Online petition calling for Salford to reconsider Humanities closure

An online petition calling on Salford VC Martin Hall to reconsider the university’s decision to “disestablish” the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences is garnering widespread support.

From the petition:

Despite the continual stress that linguists enjoy greater employability, one of the country’s best established department of languages (University of Salford) is to close “to secure the future of the University” and ensure that the institution can “benefit students in areas that are in demand with employers.”

Although it seems there is a clash in what is now considered as a requisite from employers, “disestablishment” has been considered as the last resort and is reportedly due to “low levels in interest from applicants”. This could be due to a manner of reasons: tuition fee increase, culling of mandatory language learning at GSCE by Labour government, staff cutbacks in SOL to name a few.

As highlighted by Professor Myriam Salama-Carr in her statement to Vice Chancellor, Martin Hall, the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences should be merited for its ongoing achievements and keeping in line with what was once the University’s core mission.

If you wish to lend your support to the petition, please follow the link.

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Open letter to Salford about proposed closure of MFL, translation and interpreting

The following statement regarding the proposed closure of the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at the University of Salford is currently being circulated. It clearly highlights why this decision is both short-sighted and likely to be very damaging to the reputation of the university:

The University of Salford is proposing to ‘disestablish’ its School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, and close down its language, linguistics, translation and interpreting degree provision, on UG and PG level, over the next few years. Staff and students in the School are informed that the activities carried out in languages, linguistics, translation and interpreting do not fit with the University’s new strategy and mission, and that closure is necessary to ensure financial sustainability at institutional level. Regardless of the impact of such cuts on the institution as a whole, which seems to be moving away from what should be the core mission of a University, the proposal is a blow to the achievements of the language and translation and interpreting community over the last few decades.
The University of Salford has a 40 year old track record of teaching applied languages. Its postgraduate programmes in translation and interpreting, which are now part of the prestigious European Masters in Translation’s Network, were first set up in the early 1980s and the growing network of alumni are playing a key role in the translation and interpreting profession. With an annual average of 65 postgraduate students on its translation and interpreting programme and a vibrant community of research students in the field (20 students are currently enrolled on doctoral programme, and Salford PhD holders are in academic posts in a number of institutions in the UK and abroad), the School has been active in various translation and interpreting related initiatives.  The University of Salford is currently leading the Routes into Languages National Network for Translation and is a partner in the Routes’ National Network for Interpreting.
At a national and European level, the proposed closure represents a step backwards and a short-sighted initiative at a time when the UK government recognises the need to protect languages – an indispensable asset for any professional in an increasingly globalised world.
The University proclaims its commitment to Internationalisation as part of its Teaching and Learning strategy.  With the closure of Languages, it is difficult to see how this strategic goal can be met in any serious way.  With the removal of the Languages programmes and strong links to international areas these provide, the university’s claims to be an international institution will greatly diminish.  The strong reputation of Languages programmes in the Middle East has influenced recruitment to programmes across the University. Following the damage done by these moves international recruitment is likely to suffer.
Past and current students, staff and key players in Modern Foreign Languages, Linguistics and Translation and Interpreting strongly condemned the proposals for the disestablishment of the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences.
We ask that the University reconsiders the decision as a matter of urgency and looks actively for ways to retain Languages within a strategy aimed at preparing students for a globalised labour market and society.
Today we are calling on you for support and would like to encourage you to send letters condemning these proposals to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Martin Hall. In closing, may we express our gratitude and appreciation of the many messages of support which have been received by individual colleagues.
On behalf of colleagues in the Directorate of Languages, and the Centre for Translation and Interpreting
Myriam Salama-Carr
Professor of Translation Studies

(reposted with permission of the author)

The following are just some of the reactions to the proposed ‘disestablishment’ at Salford:

University of Salford student Paul Hambling is “Left speechless” and calls the decision “a grave mistake” in this letter published in THE. He has also written about this issue on his blog, Languages from a student’s point of view.

In this blog post, a Salford insider explains how Salford came to be in this precarious situation and voices faint hopes for the future. He has now published a follow-up post, reporting on the latest developments.

The Chairman of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), Iwan Davies, has written to the Vice Chancellor of Salford “to register the Institute’s deeply held concern regarding the proposed closure”.

Greater Manchester MP Matthew Gwynne is “deeply saddened” by the decision; if plans go through, he “can only mourn the future of our country”.

Deutsch International! at Aston University

Routes into Languages logo network for languages CLERA logo

 

 

Wednesday 27th March was Deutsch International! This was the final in a series of Routes into Languages cultural events in collaboration with Networks for Languages  and CLERA.

The event was for Year 8 pupils of German and featured three workshops from final year students and native speakers from German speaking countries around the world. The countries covered were Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland.

Sprechen sie DeutschThe aim of the event was to show German as a world language and inspire pupils to continue studying German at school and beyond.

We were very fortunate to have Alex Pickering, the Special Projects Advisor from the Goethe Institut in London, who kindly came to talk to the teachers while the students worked in their groups. Alex was also responsible for judging the best poster created by the pupils and the best speakers of German.  On this occasion, the winning country was Luxembourg. Congratulations to them on such a wonderful team effort!

The event was a great success: sixty pupils and five teachers from local schools turned up on the day.

Many thanks to Kat Stevenson for leading the event; to Alex Pickering for his time, wonderful CPD input and professionalism; to the student ambassadors for running the workshops and of course to all the pupils and teachers who made the effort to come in sub-zero temperatures and make this event worthwhile.

Seminar: Language Learning and Teaching in the Digital Age: New research methodologies

Date: 18 April 2013, 1.30pm–5pm

Venue: The Open University, Milton Keynes

Format: Half-day seminar

Type: Public

Co-ordinators: Regine Hampel and Uschi Stickler (The Open University), Gráinne Conole (University of Leicester) and Norbert Pachler (Institute of Education)

Speakers: Simon Buckingham Shum (The Open University), Gráinne Conole (University of Leicester), Julia Gillen (University of Lancaster)

Objectives of the seminar:

  • To explore new quantitative and qualitative research methodologies that can be used for researching digital environments for language learning
  • To discuss the possible application of these methodologies to specific environments
  • To inspire new collaborative research projects employing these methodologies

Attendance: This seminar is free but numbers are limited and will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis. For registration and additional information, please complete the ‘Expression of interest’ slip below and return by 10 April 2013 to Anne Foward (anne.foward@open.ac.uk).

————————————————————————————————————–

  I would like to attend the half-day seminar on 18 April at the Open University.

Name: _____________________________________________________

Institution: __________________________________________________

Email address: ______________________________________________

Main research interests: _______________________________________

News from the Higher Education Academy

HEA_LLASUpcoming events

Changing the Learning Landscape – social media in the Humanities, London, 15 May 2013

This workshop offers an opportunity for those involved in teaching, or directly managing degree programmes in the Humanities disciplines, to find out more about the role that social media can play in enhancing the student and tutor experience. Through a series of presentations, activities and discussions, led by academics from the Humanities discipline areas, participants will be introduced to social media approaches and see discipline-focused exemplars of social media applied in teaching practice.

Storyville: Exploring narratives of learning and teaching, Brighton, 29-30 May 2013

Booking is now open for the Arts and Humanities conference, Storyville, which seeks to explore the intersections between narrative and learning and teaching. Places are already going fast, so book early to avoid disappointment. For more information including the conference programme visit the conference website.

HEA Annual Conference, Powerful partnerships: defining the learning experience, University of Warwick, 3-4 July 2013

These partnerships are multifaceted and we address this at the conference within three strands: students; employers; and organisations as partners. This conference will develop our understanding of how partnerships affect the student experience and educational outcome, and also benefit society as a whole. These partnerships are multifaceted and we address this at the conference within three strands: students; employers; and organisations as partners.

Publications and Funding opportunities

Just published: Engaging home and international students: a guide for new lecturers, Dr Rachel Scudamore

A new guide published by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) is aimed at those who are new to teaching in UK higher education (HE) and who work with diverse groups of students. Engaging home and international students: a guide for new lecturers, written by Dr Rachel Scudamore, Head of Teaching Enhancement at the University of Nottingham, features techniques for engaging international and home students in a range of contexts.

UK Travel Fund 2012-2013: Call open

The UK Travel Grants Scheme provides funds for staff and students to engage in activities that will support the development of teaching and learning practice by contributing to travel, accommodation, subsistence and event fees that will be incurred. Applications will be accepted until 30 June 2013.

Discipline Workshop and Seminar Series 2012-13: Upcoming Events

The internationalisation of Spanish: teaching applications and the role of translation, Swansea University, 22 March 2013

This workshop will explore the applications of state of the art language and translation tools (online, electronic and interactive) to the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language.

Engaging with local ethnic and linguistic communities: a one-day workshop sponsored by Multilingual Manchester and the Higher Education Academy, University of Manchester, 26 March 2013

The workshop will focus on ways to promote active engagement with ethnic and linguistic minorities through higher education teaching by discussing examples of individual course modules.

Student peer mentoring in the Arts and Humanities, University of Nottingham, 5 April 2013

The purpose of this event is to consider different approaches to peer mentoring and tutoring, and to look at a range of models implementing mentoring schemes in the Arts and Humanities. Mentoring is widely recognised as a key initiative in enhancing and enriching the student experience, and this workshop seeks to look at concrete models of peer mentoring in practice. Participants have either experience of peer mentoring themselves, or are interested in setting up similar schemes. Student mentors will contribute a workshop to the event.

Early career interdisciplinary conference (EPIC), University of Liverpool, 8-10 April 2013

The HEA is pleased to be sponsoring the ‘Early career interdisciplinary conference’ open to postgraduate students and university lecturers within the first five years of their appointment and designed for early professionals in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

Something to talk about: integrating content and language study in higher education, Aston University, 11 June 2013

11 Jun 2013 (Free, but registration required)

This workshop draws on international research to outline the benefits of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in MFL degrees in UK higher education. It provides a platform for sharing practice in subject-specific content teaching through the target language and discussing implications for curriculum design and teacher training.

Book now: Eliciting data in second language research: challenge and innovation, University of York, 2-3 September 2013

This two-day series of invited talks and poster presentations will bring together researchers working across diverse areas of second language studies. Delegates will learn more about the IRIS project, a fast-growing open access digital repository of data collection materials used in SLA research. Abstracts for posters may be submitted until Friday 26 April.”

¡Una Fiesta Hispánica at Aston University!

Routes into Languages logo network for languages CLERA logo

 

 

Wednesday 13th March was the second in a series of Routes into Languages cultural events in collaboration with Networks for Languages and CLERA.

Fiesta HispanicaThe event was for Year 8 pupils and featured three workshops from final year students and native speakers from Spanish speaking countries around the world. The countries covered were Paraguay, Peru and Ecuador.

The aim of the event was to show Spanish as a world language and inspire pupils to continue studying Spanish at school and beyond.

We were very fortunate to have Natalio Ormeño Villajos, the Education Advisor from the Spanish Embassy Education Office who travelled from Manchester to talk to the teachers while the students worked in their groups. Natalio was also responsible for judging the best poster created by the pupils and the best speakers of Spanish.

The event was a great success: sixty pupils and eleven teachers from local schools turned up on the day.

Many thanks to Kat Stevenson for leading the event; to Natalio Y Ormeño Villajos for his time, generosity and professionalism; to the student ambassadors for running the workshops and of course to all the pupils and teachers who made the effort to come and make this event worthwhile.

Careers in Translation and Interpreting

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Careers in Translationi 1 May 2013

Jour de la Francophonie! at Aston University

Routes into Languages logo network for languages CLERA logo

 

 

Wednesday 6th March was the first in a series of Routes into Languages cultural events in collaboration with Networks for Languages and CLERA.

The event was for Year 8 pupils and featured three workshops from final year students and native speakers from French speaking countries around the world. The countries covered were Switzerland, Quebec and Burundi.

The aim of the event was to show French as a world language and inspire pupils to continue studying French at school and beyond.

We were fortunate to have Yves Letournel who came from the Cultural department of the French Embassy to talk to the teachers while the students were enjoying their workshops. Yves was also responsible for judging the best poster created by the pupils and award prizes.

The event was a great success: sixty pupils and eight teachers from local schools turned up on the day.

Many thanks to Kat Stevenson for leading the event; to Yves Letournel for his time,  generosity and dynamism for the teachers; to the student ambassadors for running the workshops and of course to all the pupils and  teachers who made the effort to come.

We hope to repeat the event next year.

Recap: Network for Languages national meeting

NetworkForLanguages logoJust before the Christmas vacation, Network for Languages, of which Aston University is an enthusiastic member, held a national meeting at Bath Spa University. Regional Managers and Directors representing the different regions of the country attended the meeting.  Each region outlined its CPD and student activity to date and its plans for 2013 with the needs of modern language practitioners firmly in mind.

Network for Languages provides professional development, support and training for the languages community. Building on the achievements of the Links into Languages programme which ended its funding in 2011, Network for Languages works to:

  • Maintain and develop relevant and innovative continuous professional development programmes for language teachers
  • Support language teachers and other language professionals within the changing policy landscape
  • Disseminate good practice and research around language learning and teaching
  • Explore opportunities for collaboration
  • Inform and influence policy in order to put the benefits of language learning at the forefront of the agenda.

Network for Languages is pleased to announce that it will have an annual slot at the Language World conference.  During the coming year, Philip Campagna, Regional Director for Network for Languages South West, will be giving a workshop at the 2013 event: http://www.all-languages.org.uk/events/language_world/language_world_2013.  This initiative is just the start of more to come as Network for Languages plans to raise its profile nationally and work more closely with other organisations.

For further information about the Network and to find out what is happening in your local region, please go to: http://networkforlanguages.org.uk.

Jacqueline Harding
CPD Teacher Educator
School of Languages and Social Sciences
j.harding@aston.ac.uk

Universities offer free courses to foster students’ appetite for foreign languages

With the number of students taking languages at A-level shrinking and a corresponding decline in students enrolling in undergraduate language degrees at universities, Britain seems destined for a monolingual future. However, a number of initiatives have been launched to counteract this worrying loss of linguistic diversity in the national education system.

One of these current developments concerns higher education: This year, following the introduction of higher fees, the number of applications to language degrees has fallen by up to 21.5% (for non-European languages; a decline of 7.7% for languages overall). If the trend continues, more language degree programmes will have to be shut down due to lack of admissions, which will further increase the skills gap bemoaned by many.

One way universities have adopted to promote language learning is by offering free language classes to their undergraduates as a way to enhance their cultural awareness and their employability. Aston University, for example, has introduced its Languages for All programme where all new undergraduate students can study one of the five languages on offer (Arabic, French, German, Mandarin and Spanish) for free. In yesterday’s Guardian article ‘Free courses – now that’s a language students understand’, Carol Marley, Associate Dean of undergraduate programmes in Aston’s School of Languages and Social Sciences explains why so many students use this opportunity to study a new language: “Learning a language doesn’t just make you more employable, it allows you to explore a culture, and that can be a real eye-opener.”

Read more about Aston’s Languages for All programme here and on the website.