Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sponsorship of local events

Well, the Christmas Tree Festival in Scopwick was a success! I ended up decorating two trees, one for HS Language Services,and one for the Twinning Association. The church looked beautiful and the trees were all auctioned off successfully.
This is the second time that HSLS has sponsored an event in Scopwick, and I have also sponsored a local girl (see September's entry) for equipment.
I am more than happy to sponsor any local events and if there is something in your area, do not hesitate to get in touch. (Contact details)

Interim Report from Dearing Review

This report was published on 14th December. There is a recommendation that the earlier languages are introduced, the better. The Languages Ladder as a means of informal assessment at ks2 and ks3 is mentionned, as well as a review of the current GCSE format.
Whilst I am in complete agreement with the introduction of languages at primary level, I am not sure what measure can be taken to ensure a higher uptake at GCSE. Unfortunately the apathy shown towards language learning is just a reflection of the society we live in today. There are many hard-working, motivated students around, but numbers of those who do not wish to learn are on the increase. My experience in secondary comprehensives has shown me that teenagers are reluctant to take responsibility for their own learning, and expect to be spoonfed in lessons. There are relatively few who have a strong work ethic.
I'm not sure what the solution to this might be, but it certainly needs tackling.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Courses come to a close.....

...for this year, anyway! Both beginners courses have now finished, and we celebrated last night at the Royal Oak pub in Scopwick. Members of both courses came together to meet before we recommence in January on the post-beginners course.
I'm very pleased with the courses this year, and plan to put more on in September in various locations around the county. I am considering Bardney, Wragby and Welton for next September and plan to run the same 10 week beginners courses.

What's On in December

Monday 4th December 19.00 End of course meal for language classes. Royal Oak, Scopwick

Friday 15th December - Sunday 17th December Scopwick and Kirkby Green Festival of Christmas Trees. Auction of Christmas Trees. (HSLS is sponsoring a tree - photos to follow.)

Friday 22nd December - Tuesday 2nd January Closed for Christmas

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's On in November

Mondays 19.15-20.45 Beginners French Course, Scopwick

Tuesdays 19.15-20.45 Beginners French Course, Billinghay

3-5th November, The London Language Show

Thursday 9th November 16.00-17.00 Beginners French, Billinghay School

CILT in the news

It's a very worrying time for languages at the moment. This article highlights the problem in schools.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

HSLS is looking for tutors, translators and interpreters

We will shortly be recruiting new tutors to teach our language classes, crammer courses and to undertake private tuition work. All languages are welcome, but we particularly require teachers of French, German and Spanish. Applicants must have a teaching qualification and an up-to-date CRB check.

Translators and Interpreters
We will accept applications to join our database of Translators and Interpreters for any language.

See details on the website.

How do I get into PMFL teaching?

I have received a few emails recently about this, asking for advice on how to go about teaching languages in Primary Schools. I must stress here that I only have my own experiences to talk about and that there are many other ways to go about this.
I have not retrained to teach Primary, but I have modified my methodology - a lot of imagination is needed and a love of singing and story telling!
I have set myself up as a business. This means that I do all of my marketing, finance and admin myself, as well as the actual job of teaching. In the first instance that means writing to schools, advertising in directories and magazines and spreading the word. Then comes the hard work of making sure you deliver the service required and keeping up the momentum, as well as making sure that your accounts are up to date and that you have adequate insurance.
PMFL on its own would not be feasible, in my opinion. If you do want to go down this route, then you must be flexible and offer a range of services, otherwise the business is not financially viable.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What's On in October

2nd, 9th, 16th October - Beginners French Course, Scopwick Village Hall

3rd, 10th, 17th October - Beginners French Course, Billinghay Methodist Church

Monday, September 18, 2006

HS Language Services in the news

Felicity Carter is a student wanting to undertake the trip of a lifetime to Borneo next year, to do voluntary work. She was in need of sponsorship for equipment and I decided that I'd like to help out. I did voluntary work abroad myself, in Cyprus in 2000 and thought this an ideal way to help out both a local girl and a charity.
See the article here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

How do I become fluent?

This is a question that I am often asked and the answer is simply PRACTICE!
There are of course many techniques for improving language and many different ways of learning. This may be in classes at school, adult education classes, self-study or the total immersion method.
Spend as much time as you can reading and listening to the language. If you are a beginner, start off with short news articles, working your way up to the longer ones as you become more confident. This will enable you to get a feel for the language and to build up your vocabulary.
The most effective way of learning is to spend time with speakers of the language. If your village has a local twinning association, join it. You will get to meet the people of the country and get to understand the culture and traditions.
Fluency is described here. I have studied languages since the age of 11 (French and German) and did A levels in these subjects. However, I didn't think myself truly fluent until I spent my year abroad, two years into my degree course. This is because I had no choice but to communicate.
Several years later I started an Open University course in German, and only felt fluent after doing a residential summer school in Jena, Germany. I strongly believe that it is vital to spend time in the country n order to become proficient.
Of course, becoming fluent in a language is the easy thing to do, it's keeping up your skills that is difficult.

What's On in September

11 the September - Beginners French Class, Scopwick Village Hall, 715 - 8.45pm
10 week course commences

12th September - Beginners French Class, Billinghay Methodist Church, 7.15 - 8.45pm
10 week course commences. Places still available.

26th September - European Day of Languages
Display at Woodhall Spa Library

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Please beware pickpockets and thieves

There is a new distraction technique going on around and about, and unfortunately I fell victim to it this week. A seasoned traveller, I am surprised and rather upset to have been duped by this.
The technique is simple. I was sat in a cafe with friends, bag safely out of the way (or so I thought), when there was a knock on the window. That half a second of a glance was enough and when I went to get my bag, it simply wasn't there. I didn't even notice, nor did my friend who was looking in my direction.
Please take care when out and about.

Mon sejour en France.

Having just arrived back from France, here are a few recommendations for hotels and places to visit.
First stop Tours, a lovely city and an excellent place to stay if you want to visit the chateaux de la Loire. We went to Chenonceau a stunning place. Don't bother with the excursions, the train from Tours station to Chenonceau only takes 20 minutes and stops directly outside the castle itself. Try to take a walk into the village itself, as it's very pretty.
The Hotel Best Western was excellent value and very central.
Next stop Orleans, a pretty town, with a very impressive cathedral. This hotel, although not particularly central, was cheap and comfortable.
Finally Paris, and what a choice of things to see. We opted for the batobus, allowing us to hop on and off the boat as and when we pleased, choosing to do so at Notre Dame and the Champs Elysees, which I always enjoy. I love the atmosphere there. We stayed here out at Neuilly, which is a 15 minute walk from the Arc de Tromphe, Metro line number 1.

Well done to all my students!

Well, results are in. Congratulations to all students who studied with HS Language Services for their examinations this year. All French and German GCSE students achieved a C or above, and those doing the Spanish in a year gained a C and a D.
Well done to you all!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The future of languages

It seems that the future of languages is rather doomed. According to this article less students are taking up languages at GCSE level. This was fairly inevitable, given that languages are no longer compulsory at KS4. This article gives a comprehensive view of the current language situation.
I wonder if the introduction of languages at primary level will make a difference. I would like to think so. In my experience, younger pupils are much more enthusiastic about language learning and interested in different cultures and countries. Hopefully this will lead to more students wanting to study languages to a higher level.
People are realising the importance of language learning, but not until they are older and, dare I say it, more mature. I have many requests from adults for private tuition, and my September evening classes are almost full. This indicates to me that languages are still very much alive and kicking, and that people are still interested in learning them.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Why languages?

There have been many articles published on why one should learn a language, including this list. They detail languages being good for your career and interpersonal skills and understanding other people and cultures.
I have a love for languages that started in Secondary School. I have always been interested in language and how it works. Try looking at the origins of certain words, the links between languages and dialects - it's fascinating.
Languages work for different people on different levels. Some enjoy the intricacies of the language, others the ability to communicate with others of different cultures. I enjoy the challenge of speaking to people in a different language.
What I enjoy about teaching languages is that all students have a chance to excel, but especially those who are good at speaking and listening. The way of teaching is also entirely different, using games, songs and stories, as well as discussing the differences and similarities between cultures.

Monday, August 21, 2006

From humble beginnings

The idea for HS Language Services was born towards the end of 2004. I had been a Secondary School languages teacher for 4 years at this point, and was working at a school in Lincoln, teaching English, French and German.
Two new initiatives were brought in around this time. The first was that all Primary Schools teachers should have 10% of their timetable as Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time. The second that all Primary School pupils should have an entitlement to a foreign language by 2009.
By August 2005, HS Language Services was up and running, preparing for the new school year, taking languages into Primary Schools. The Secondary School in Lincoln was keeping me on for one morning a week and I was spending afternoons in Primary Schools.
Slowly but surely, the enquiries came for private tuition, and a little translation work. Around GCSE revision time, I had a lot of students and put on the first GCSE Crammer Courses, which were successful despite not being particularly well attended. I entered my first mature students for GCSE and we are awaiting results.
I'm looking forward to the second year trading. Evening classes are starting in September and I have a diverse group of private tutees ahead of me, as well as my work with schools.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hello and welcome

Hello and welcome to HS Language Services blogspot. It's exactly a year since HS Language Services started trading and I thought a blog was a good way to celebrate this. It will also be a chance to update you all on new developments.