Language skills are a tangible skill which will benefit students in their future careers and enhance their confidence in our connected world where we need a global mindset. Summer holiday season is a time to relax, but it can also be an opportunity for students to practice language skills useful in their future CV.
If you holiday in a foreign country you can practise future work skills
In the world of work most of today’s young people can expect to deal with aspects in their future work involving international interaction - be it customers, suppliers or trade shows. How will they react in the future to new work-related situations with diverse people? Someday today’s student will be networking at a conference or taking out crucial foreign delegations for dinner. It can be daunting to use a foreign language in real-life situations if a classroom has been your only experience. An authentic environment is invaluable and during foreign holiday students can utilise it to practise dealing with real-life situations.
Local radio and music, tv, subtitled films in the original language and written language like menus or setting the social media in the local language give the student an opportunity to mini-immerse. Abroad students are faced with situations they have practised in school, such as being able to buy things or ask for directions. Even if the holiday destination can handle English, it is a good opportunity to have a go at managing situations in a foreign language - something they may face some day. And even if the student does not use the target language, cultural aspects will be useful to learn.
Language courses and Exchange stays enhance cultural awareness
Language courses are an obvious option and often an experience which creates memories as well as providing immersion in the target language and culture. The students will encounter situations many of them will face in the future as they travel abroad for work or deal with culturally diverse people.
An exchange where you cut out the host family fee and the language course fee is possible by choosing an exchange where students exchange families. The student is immersed in the everyday life of the host family, and uses the language in real time, in real situations and with real people. This option demands more work than a commercial language course, but when successful can create lifelong friendships and ties to the target language country. The student has to get involved and join in the family activities to get plenty of language practice. This is all good preparation for future work skills to navigate foreign environments.
PPLI administers funding for school exchanges during term time : Applications are now closed for this year but future funding will be available next year.
Longer language courses or exchanges give the student an opportunity to improve and make real progress in fluency. A longer time spent abroad can be a game-changer and the student may well return with superb fluency, something valuable for their future CV.
Work camps abroad combining work and languages
Not every student can afford to go abroad for a holiday or a language course. One way to immerse oneself in a language is to look at work camp options, which are not necessarily completely free but are generally more affordable. Work camps are primarily for over 18-year-olds, but no matter whether the student is in post-primary or 3rd level at that age work camps are a way to practise a language and work.
There are also camps for younger students, for example castle restoration in France or Italy. Full details here.
A quick look at this year’s camps shows what is on offer: for example for those interested in German as the required language there is a camp helping disabled children or working in drama with refugee children in Switzerland, or under 18’s camp in garden renovation in Austria and in Ireland.
Summer camps in Ireland
Summer in Ireland can also include foreign languages. Summer language courses are available in many languages through language schools. Those students with a heritage language they speak at home can also access summer camps in Ireland or their heritage country to help them to brush up in their own language. Embassies will be able to assist in directing heritage language speakers to the right courses in heritage countries.
PPLI Summer camps for heritage language speakers: Applications are now closed for this year but available again next year for 2020. More information here.
For more information languagesinititative.ie and awareness-raising campaign.
Check out school exchanges in Carndonagh Community School in Donegal and Lucan Community College Co Dublin https://vimeo.com/277417214