University provides free mentoring for Kent’s sixth form language students

Sam Wood

Kent’s Department of Modern Languages has begun a free mentoring scheme for sixth form language students across the county, to help them maintain and develop their language skills despite the restrictions of lockdown.

Through the scheme, Kent’s fourth-year Modern Language students conduct weekly tutoring sessions on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, engaging the sixth form students in language exercises and conversation in French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Language provision in schools has been reduced over recent years. Dr Wissia Fiorucci and Dr Rebecca Ogden, lecturers in Kent’s Department of Modern Languages, designed the scheme to provide the best language-studies resources available for those pupils eager to develop their skills and perhaps consider studying further. The University is also providing free online resources to partner schools via the Department of Modern Languages’ website and has recently organised an online teaching forum on distance learning in Modern Languages. A recording of the forum can be found here.

The scheme also benefits the University’s students, as the majority are currently in their fourth year with many considering teaching modern languages in the future, for which mentoring provides valuable experience.

The scheme is free to all schools who wish to take part, with a current majority of partner schools based in Kent. Further information on joining the scheme can be found here.

German language student Takara Allum has tutored pupils on the scheme in German. She said: ‘The mentoring scheme has been a real confidence boost for my teaching of languages, but I would have to say the most rewarding thing is the results for the pupils. They are so grateful for support, especially around hard grammar concepts, and love knowing more about learning language.’

Dr Tobias Heinrich, organiser of the scheme and Lecturer in German at the University of Kent, said: ‘It is part of the University’s civic responsibility to provide learning opportunities for young people across Kent. This mentoring scheme allows for language students of our partner schools across the South East to ensure they can maintain and develop their standard of language skills whilst under lockdown. Conversation is vital for developing language skills, and our students have embraced the opportunity to share their time with young people.’