The Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics launched the Language Mentoring Scheme in 2020, to provide A-Level pupils across Kent the opportunity of speaking-practice virtual discussions with the University’s language course students. Beginning with several local schools and 20 University student mentors, this expanded to include 74 Kent student mentors, 15 secondary schools and over 200 pupils across Kent and the south east.
Modern Language students volunteered to conduct weekly tutoring sessions on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, engaging the A-Level pupils in language exercises and conversation in French, German, Italian and Spanish, whilst also offering support with homework, conversation practice, and university applications.
The free scheme was created in response to the pandemic and the closure of schools and universities, but soon transformed into a greater online initiative for a larger number of students, schools and pupils to participate via online virtual technologies.
Rachel Etherington, Stage 3 ELL and German student, said: ‘I’ve found being a language mentor both challenging and rewarding. I find planning the sessions really interesting to try and find topics that are interesting for the students and that stimulate interesting conversation. Some sessions are really rewarding as I can see the students improving in confidence and verbal precision.’
Dr Tobias Heinrich, organiser of the scheme and Lecturer in German at the University of Kent said: ‘We created this scheme to give students opportunities for practical language experience, in ways which would feed back to their own learning and enhance their employability. That this has supported Modern Languages in local schools, reflects the University’s commitment to widening participation and demonstrates an existing demand for language skills from the national student community that are on the verge of applying to universities.’
The scheme will re-open in the autumn term. Interested schools can get in touch here.