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School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Press Releases

Routes into Languages in Newcastle

Learning A Foreign Language is 'aaaalreet'

Geordies are the most likely tourists to try and speak a foreign language while on holiday.

In a nationwide poll conducted by low fares airline, easyJet, more than 74 per cent of people from Newcastle confirmed that they attempt the basics of the local lingo when it comes to saying hello, asking for directions and when ordering a drink at the bar.

 Routes into Languages and easyJet teamed up to provide translation cards for useful holiday phrases in French and Spanish. These will be available on flights departing from Newcastle Airport to French and Spanish destinations. Routes North East also delivered a mass languages lesson from Grey's Monument in Newcastle city centre. (<-Click on the link to see the clip.) 

Sophie Dekkers, easyJet’s commercial manager, explains: “We’re an airline that wants its passengers to get the most out of their chosen destination and we were really encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by people in Newcastle when it came to learning the local lingo for their summer holiday."

Ruth O’Rourke, project manager at Routes into Languages, continues: “A little language goes a long way. We know that linguists are more successful in the job market in terms of employment and salary, are great communicators, we are apparently more attractive to other people and there are even health benefits."

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at Alzheimer's Society, added: “We recommend that people stay socially activeas this can help reduce your risk of developing dementia. There is also research to suggest that if you started learning a language early enough, this could make you less likely to develop dementia later in life.”

To date easyJet, the UK’s largest and best value airline, has flown more than 11 million passengers from Newcastle Airport since its arrival in 2001. It currently operates 30 flights every week to 16 destinations including, Alicante, Paris, Malaga, Faro, Nice and Malta.

Local pupils get taste of modern languages at University

15 July 2009

Sixth-formers from schools around the region spent a day at Durham University in July, working on their language skills and getting a taste of Chinese culture.

Fifty pupils took part in a language day, organised by the University's School of Modern Languages and Cultures and the Oriental Museum, as part of a nationwide drive to encourage more young people to continue their language studies at A-level and on into Higher Education.

Pupils spent the morning in the modern languages department, honing their skills in French, German and Spanish, practising interpreting in the digital language lab, and finding out about the Argentinian tango.

During their afternoon at the Oriental Museum, they had a ‘taster' session in Mandarin Chinese, tried their hands at Chinese calligraphy and enjoyed a tour of the museum.

Zhe (Joe) Xu, a student from China now studying at Durham University, showed them around the ‘China Today' gallery and Dr Sarah Price, the University's education outreach officer, arranged for them to have a closer look at a selection of ‘mystery objects' from the museum's Chinese collection.

Joe Xu said: "I think events like this are very important for improving cultural understanding. I have visited the museum many times and think that it is a good way to find out more about life in China."

Dr Sarah Price said: "This is a new venture for the museum. Combining an introduction to a language with an exploration of the culture through our exhibits is a good way to see how the two go hand-in-hand."

Dr Sally Wagstaffe, outreach officer for the School of Modern Languages and Cultures said: "We hope that these days will show A-level pupils that language-learning at university is varied and interesting. Students can take their A-level languages to an advanced level and they can begin new languages as well. Having good language skills is a real asset when it comes to looking for a job or a career. "

The pupils came from the Hermitage School in Chester-le-Street, St Bede's RC Comprehensive School in Peterlee, Prior Pursglove College in Guisborough, Whickham School in Newcastle, Prudhoe Community College and Ponteland High School in Northumberland.

Durham University's language days are offered as part of the programme of Routes North East, a consortium of all the universities in the region to promote the study of modern languages. To find out more about events for next year, visit the website.

Routes into Languages is a programme funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Department for Children, Schools and Families which aims to increase the take-up of languages from schools to university.

15 July 2009


September 2008

Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a joint press conference with the US president George Bush at his Texas ranch; President Nicolas Sarkozy addresses the UK Parliament; Fabio Capello, the new manager of England's football team, talks to the British press for the first time. What do they have in common? They speak in their native language and what they have to say is relayed to English-speaking listeners by an interpreter.

Interpreters make it possible for people who speak different languages to communicate. In these examples we see that interpreting can be a high-profile and high-pressure job but interpreters are also needed regularly in all kinds of everyday situations: business, legal and medical.

There are different types of interpreting. Simultaneous interpreting: where the interpreter listens to a speaker and, almost simultaneously, relays the message into the listeners' language (from German into English, for example). Consecutive interpreting: where the interpreter takes notes and then relays the message in full at the end. (If you've seen the film The Interpreter, you'll have seen Nicole Kidman doing simultaneous interpreting (in a booth) at the UN for a debate in the main chamber and liaison interpreting in a meeting.) Liaison interpreting is used in business situations, diplomatic or political meetings, interviews and court hearings and here the interpreter relays the words of the speakers in both directions between two languages. On-sight interpreting is when the interpreter provides an oral translation of a written text.

Practising interpreting is a very effective way of developing your knowledge of German and also your thinking skills. It helps you to understand the structures of a language and identify the message to be communicated; to build your vocabulary knowledge; to speak clearly and fluently. It also helps you to develop your memory, your concentration and your ability to think on your feet

Students taking courses in modern languages at university can often take modules in interpreting and/or translation. Some may then go on to take a MA course which prepares them to work as interpreters and/or translators in national and international organisations and major companies.

Many of the listening resources used for your German course at school can be used to practise interpreting. There are also video clips or podcasts available on-line - on the BBC Languages website, for example, or through the website of the Goethe Institut - which are suitable.

Interpreting sessions are offered at several of the universities in the Routes North East consortium as part of GCSE and A-level masterclasses. Come and have a try!

September 2008