For any of you thinking of taking part in language learning initiatives at your local schools, I thought it might be useful to describe in more detail some of the events I’ve attended. So that you know what you’re letting yourselves in for!
The Careers Day I attended was for 2nd year pupils at Bearsden Academy, to help them decide on their “Standard Grade” state exam subjects.
Representatives from different businesses and careers were seated at tables around the school hall and canteen. On the Day I attended, the “career representatives” included police officers, scientific researchers, lawyers, accountants, a pilot (how do you follow that???) and others.
Small groups of 8-10 pupils made their way around the tables until each group had spoken to each career representative, for about ten minutes per group. The idea was for each of us to briefly describe our career path and current job, and any qualifications required, following up with comments and questions from the kids.
This is pretty labour intensive for the career representatives. I can’t remember how many groups I spoke to but I do remember repeating my spiel many times over. The comments and Q&A can be hard going with 13-year-olds so you might need to do some prompting. There’s only so much you can do with about 10 minutes per group. By the same token, not much preparation is required.
Most second-year pupils have only a hazy notion of of what they want to do in life. However, some of the kids did have career ideas, so I tried to find ways that languages could help them or complement their other skills. And to all of the kids I pointed out that learning a foreign language would ultimately help with their English and open up their opportunities and horizons.
I take it as a given that any opportunity to promote language learning is useful, and that language professionals should be represented at careers days and similar events. So if the careers officer invites me to future Careers Days, I’ll definitely accept. First, to do my bit for language learning. And second, the school laid on a lovely buffet of soup, sandwiches and cakes for us afterwards. And I’m a sucker for a free lunch.
By Marian Dougan