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What Connects and what Divides ? Liverpool’s Hidden Culture.

‘Hats off’ to the fantastic cultural work of the language teachers in Liverpool.

Over the past month I’ve been amazed at these unsung heroes and heroines, the champions of Merseyside’s Cultural heritage and a driving force to push the study of languages into the forefront of education.

The seventeen Supplementary Language schools in Liverpool, had a showcase of culture recently at Broadgreen International School. Here the different cultures in Liverpool provided a showcase of talent in singing, dancing, cuisine and art.

I was enthralled with the Wirral Multicultural evening at Wallasey Town Hall, meeting the Mayor, headteachers, governors and leaders of cultural organisations; discussing and networking future festivals and seminars in the pursuit of our cultural goals and diversity.

The Liverpool school improvement ‘EMTAS’ Awards ceremony at the Devonshire House Hotel on Monday was a feast of delights with performances from Liverpool Malayalee Association, Chinese Poetry, dancing and a performance of young children singing in Arabic.

On Friday I was in London giving a report to the British Academy of Schools Language Awards and was proud to receive an accolade for a second year involving a project developing language skills at the Liverpool Polish School.

In tandem, South Sefton College, Litherland also received an award from the British Academy for their ‘Love Languages’ Project, which is a student-driven programme aiming to develop the student’s experience of a varied range of languages and cultures. It also aims to develop the skills and confidence of students to broaden their horizons through partnerships with schools, universities, employers and schools abroad.

Throughout Merseyside I have witnessed the brilliant work of the language teachers in both Primary and Secondary. Imaginative language studies which bring ‘Snow White’ alive on the stage in German, visits to Chateau and the pupil exchange initiatives which enhance pan-European experiences.

As part of a global economy and increasingly multilingual and multicultural society, I feel it is essential that we equip the next generation of students with vital skills which allow them to succeed. Language skills are an integral part of this.

I was amazed to see so many children at the EMTAS Awards, receive Fast Trackers Language Awards, Traveller Awards, EAL Awards, Grade A GCSE & A- Level Awards in Polish, Chinese, Bengali, Somali and Arabic.

Events like this across Merseyside, celebrate the efforts of staff and children and give well-deserved recognition for the important work they are doing.

I spend well over three months of the year in Europe, travelling, teaching, lecturing, developing projects and working through diplomatic agencies. The cost of living in Europe is not that demanding and undergrads overseas this year saw a 17% rise in UK students considering studying overseas. The US was the most popular destination, followed by Australia, France and Germany. Germany surprisingly is the most affordable study location, with costs of £4,200.

With UK universities charging up to £9,000 a year for tuition fees, an increasing option is to study abroad for a fraction of the cost.

Once a month I’m in Bruges. Language is no problem if you have a simple understanding of French or German but in the case of Maastricht University for example, 11 out of 16 undergraduate programmes are taught in English.
As an example-
Netherlands Fees-£1,500 (£4.500 for a standard degree)
Monthly Rent £357 (student flat)
Tutorial Groups-12-15 students
Teaching Hours- 14
Worst Thing- Health Insurance is a must at £80 a month
Value- Excellent, you get lots of education for your fees!.
“It’s like Cambridge, with warmer weather, and the fees are £1,500 a year”.

With so many Primary schools taking up a modern foreign language now, it’s well worth seeing through that particular language to a higher level, and using it to advantage in todays competitive jobs market. There is strong evidence to suggest that the UK is suffering from a growing deficit in foreign language skills at a time when global demand for language skills is expanding.

With the evidence I have seen in Liverpool this month, the children of Liverpool are indeed one step ahead in the game, and there is a hidden culture that certainly connects.

As we move towards a New Year, I would like to think that some of our readers may take up the pursuit of a language, renew its acquaintance or support a younger member of the family to see how language learning translates to employment.

Atten-shun! Volunteer for the Giant army

Recruitment poster 2014CALLING all recruits – the Giants need you!

A massive call out has gone out for volunteers for this year’s biggest street theatre event and now 120 people have the chance to be part of the show itself.

For the first time in its 21 year history of producing jaw-dropping giant events, the company behind the theatrical spectacle, Royal de Luxe, is asking members of the public to play a central role in their production.

Although the full story is yet to be revealed for Memories of August 1914, part of it will focus on the recreation of the recruitment of the Liverpool Pals battalions, which 100 years ago saw men volunteer alongside their family members, neighbours and work colleagues, signing up to defend Britain on the battlefields of Europe.

The team is after 120 men to volunteer to take part in Memories which runs from 23-27 July, with the main action taking place from 25-27 July. To apply you must:

  • be over 18 years of age
  • be physically fit as marching repeatedly will be required.
  • be available for rehearsals on the 27-30 June, 16, 19 and 24-27 July
  • be able to supply your own costume – period civilian outfits are welcomed as are period military uniforms (of the era)

The deadline for applications is 10pm Tuesday 6 May. For full details on how to apply visit and fill in the Liverpool Pals Battalions re-enactment volunteer application form.

Founder and Artistic Director of Royal de Luxe, Jean Luc Courcoult, said: “We put our heart and soul into these shows and it’s hugely important for us that our giants tell a story which resonates with the city they are exploring.

“Liverpool has such a rich history and the Pals is an incredible and inspirational part of that – and one that we had to incorporate in the show.  When we looked at developing the idea, we decided we must recruit an army, and there was no doubt in our minds that we wanted it to be made up of people from Liverpool.

“We aim to recreate the recruitment spirit of 100 years ago, and we’re positive the finished product will be an emotional highlight for many. “

Tony Wainwright, Secretary of the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund, said: “We are delighted that Royal De Luxe have chosen to incorporate the story of the formation of the Liverpool Pals in the production Memories of August 1914.

“The Liverpool Pals story is a remarkable one. Following Lord Derby’s promise that Liverpool would provide one battalion of men from the business community of Liverpool, the response was overwhelming. Between August and November 1914 not one but four battalions were formed and there were enough volunteers to form two reserve battalions. They went on to distinguish themselves during the course of the war, seeing action in some of the fiercest battles.

“Sadly over 2800 men fell in action and never saw the peace for which they gave their lives. On 31 August 2014 a memorial will be unveiled in Lime Street station. The date is significant, being 100 years to the day of the first volunteers signing up at St Georges Hall to join the Liverpool Pals.

“We hope that the Pals being involved in the show will raise the profile of their story and allow many more people to discover their heroism. The city of Liverpool should be rightly proud of OUR Pals, the first to be formed and the last to be stood down. With the help of Royal de Luxe we hope to show just how proud we should be.”

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Liverpool school gets British Academy of Language Award

In 2011, the British Academy launched a four-year programme to deepen awareness and demonstrate the importance of languages in the humanities and social sciences.

A recent report stressed that there was strong evidence that the UK is suffering from a growing deficit in foreign language skills at a time when global demand for language skills is expanding.

Languages in many British institutions are difficult or impossible to study within the UK education system at a higher level.
It is very uncommon for university students to take degrees combining languages with vocational or STEM (Science, Technology, English and Maths) subjects. This so limits the UK’s ability to transfer domestic innovation into international markets.
The aim of these Awards is to encourage more young people to take languages to higher levels.

It is with these aims in mind that I devised a programme of extending the Polish/English language taught at one of Liverpool’s Supplementary schools to incorporate aspects of financial acumen. In other words, asking the children “If I give you £5, how can you make £10?” Keeping within the dimensions of the language lessons, the children grew in financial wisdom by visiting the local Tesco superstore and learning from a Polish manager in their native language about how the store operates.
A Polish financial Advisor helped them understand savings and pensions and what a mortgage is. A Polish guide from the Liverpool National Museums, guided them through the acquisition of objects of art. A Polish confectioner gave a master-class in cookery and the economics of running a restaurant business.

Although a majority were English born, I had created a language classroom in the real world.
This educational ‘idea’ works and has become a beacon of good practice in the facilitation of language teaching. Weeks later the children used the knowledge gained from the ‘experiences’ to create, advertise and sell their own product at a profit. The project brought in maths skills, ICT design skills, communication skills, confidence in selling and approach, and above all, a joy of using a foreign language.
It is, with this approach, that the Liverpool Polish School was awarded the British Academy Language Award. As Polish school educational consultant, I was proud to accept the Award and discuss future interests with the Polish Ambassador Witold Sobkow.
Andre Olchowski
MEd, BEd, QTS, DASE, NPQH (National Professional Qualification of Headteachers)

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