Last year, Winstanley fortified its already strong relationships with both Oxford and Cambridge universities, becoming the hub for the ‘North West Centre for Languages and Cultures’ (NWCLC) in partnership with Pembroke College, Oxford. The NWCLC works alongside hubs across the region devoted to the other subject areas of Science, Humanities, and Theology.
First launched in February 2016, the NWCLC aims to inspire budding linguists to pursue modern foreign languages at degree level and beyond. Throughout the academic year, interested students will be able to access a creative and intellectually stimulating course of events hosted by experts in the field – whether they’re currently studying an MFL A Level or not! As well as developing subject knowledge for those studying a language, the course aims to introduce students to a range of languages they are unlikely to have encountered previously, and to improve understanding of the utility of language skills in career development and intercultural appreciation.
The launch event for the 2016/17 programme took place at Winstanley College just before Christmas, with ninety Year 12 students participating from across the North West; our own students were joined by keen linguists from Carmel College, Oldham Sixth Form College, South Cheshire College and St John Rigby College, all eager to find out more about the study of languages at a higher level. The day was supported by speakers from Lancaster University and the University of Manchester, which both have incredibly well-renowned language facilities with outstanding teaching and learning.
It commenced with a lecture on ‘The Importance of Studying Languages’, led by Dr Birgit Smith, Head of the Department of Languages and Cultures at Lancaster University. This offered a fascinating glimpse into the multiple language courses on offer at university, and the diverse range of careers such degrees can lead to. One student commented: “This was really helpful because it gave me an insight into how languages can help you succeed, and I now feel more aware of the possibilities that they can bring”.
After this, students participated in their choice of two language workshops, delivered by researchers from both universities. Students could opt to stretch and enrich their knowledge of MFL A Level subjects in Advanced workshops, which examined how the cultures of different countries are expressed through their music; Spanish looked at contemporary Latin American music, whilst French examined Piaf and popular music in France. Alternatively, there were a range of Beginners workshops on offer to display how the world of languages opens up at degree level – some students had a taste of Chinese, Italian or Russian!
Lastly, all students came together for a concluding lecture delivered by Prof. Eva Schultze-Berndt, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Manchester, in a topic completely new to all. Of the estimated 6,500 languages spoken in the world, students gained an insight into some specific languages of Australia, Africa, and Papua New Guinea. They examined how these unrelated languages actually have very similar grammatical rules, and how at a closer look these rules can also be recognised in more familiar European languages such as English, German and French.
This was a really jam-packed day with an excellent array of activities on offer; as one student summed up: “I liked meeting so many other students studying languages, and now I feel encouraged to learn more new languages”. This is only the first in a full programme of NWCLC events scheduled throughout the academic year, and we’re looking forward to what’s to come. Furthermore, some Winstanley students will also be participating in events run by the other North West hubs – watch this space!