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This is Language Connect – reporting from the front line for Business Language Champions

hot air balloons in sky
in Education and Training, Language Connect

Language Connect recently took part in their first Business Language Champions workshop at the Convent for Jesus and Mary Language College in Willesden and I’m happy to report that it was a raging success.  So much so, that now the panic I and my colleagues experienced at having to talk to a group of teenage girls has abated, I thought it would be good to let you know how it went and what we did.

Our task?  To engage with sixteen native Polish speaking girls in Years 10 and 11 and demonstrate how their natural linguistic aptitude could put them on the career ladder after they finish school.  Easy right?

Providing the facts about what Language Connect does was the easy part – it was the engaging with 16 teenagers that posed the most immediate problem.  What if they thought we were boring and rubbish?  What if they didn’t say anything?  What if they didn’t want to join in?

We had a double lesson in which to perform – that’s 1 hour and 40 minutes for those whose school years are a nothing but a distant memory.  We divided our time into three sections – a brief Language Connect presentation on interpreting and translation, a talk by real life interpreter Aleksandra and finally role plays (as written by the students themselves) that would be judged on content, fluency and creativity.

The first two thirds of the session were eerily quiet and my colleague Amy and I soon experienced what it’s like to die on stage at your first stand up gig.  But then came the role plays and what a show!  All of a sudden, the students who had previously been silent participants in the workshop became actresses and performers all.  Following a brilliant example acted out by Amy, Iwona and Aleksandra (I was the director, natch) we handed the floor over to the students who had 15 minutes to write their own versions of situations either in the doctor’s surgery or a court of law.

Donning a judge’s wig or a doctor’s coat for authenticity and to help them get into character, the students acted out their scripts in groups of three with one person as the interpreter.  The scripts were imaginative to say the least and we were regaled with tales of stolen one legged chickens and feisty old women going to the doctor just to put their feet up and have a chat.  Whilst the drama was unfolding, the class teacher told me that she couldn’t believe what she was seeing – previously quiet and withdrawn students were literally coming out of their shells before her very eyes and she was thrilled.

It was decided that there were two clear winning groups and so duly presented with official Language Connect certificates it was almost time to go, but not before a quick fire Q and A session.  Whereas before, you couldn’t squeeze a word out of the students, the questions were practically pouring forth – the most common being whether they could come and do work experience for us!  An amazing result and such a worthwhile workshop – Business Language Champions is a fantastic scheme and one that Language Connect will continue to enjoy taking part in.

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