Variations on the theme: Frequently Asked Questions by Rachel Hawkes

There are many successful variations on the Language Leader Award theme. Teachers need to decide:

· when to run the sessions

The sessions can take place in curriculum time, lunch time or after-school. We use a lunch-time model.

· which year group should do the Language Leader Award

We introduced the Award in 2006 with Year 10. This year we have moved the programme to Year 9 because of pressures of modular courses and potential overload in Year 10.

· who should teach the course and how many groups to have

When the programme first began I taught the only group of students and they offered different languages within it. Now we have 3 different groups: Spanish (& Mandarin); French and German.

· where to do the teaching

We take learners out to local primary schools. This is much more work to organise than for them to teach Year 7 but the gains for the leaders and for the primary learners far outweigh the logistical considerations.

· when to do the teaching

We had always followed a model of summer term delivery, believing that this was much preferred by our primary schools. This had the disadvantage that our leaders had to sustain interest and momentum over a very long time before ever experiencing the ‘teaching’ in a real context and then they had 3 visits within a very short time frame. This year we have decided to spread the teaching so that they will go once in January, once in March and once in May. Our experience to date suggests that this will be a much better model.

· how to select your language leaders

There is clearly no one answer to this. Much will depend on whether you are doing this award programme as enrichment activity or part of the curriculum. However, one element to the programme that we added this year was an application form (insert hyperlink) that must be endorsed by a signature from a peer and a teacher. The application asks the student to explain why they want to be a language leader and what s/he can offer the programme. We found that this was a very illuminating addition to our processes and we will definitely keep this element in for future years.

· what other responsibilities or challenges to include in your Language Leader Programme

We certainly feel that applying to be a Language Leader involves a commitment to representing languages for the school and taking on an ambassador-type role in languages. We do ask our language leaders to support the department on Open Evenings, Options Evening, and other special events such as our International Talent Evening. We find that students respond very well to these opportunities and these add a further dimension to their work as a language leader.