What Works: Languages Mentoring and Ambassador Programmes

Front cover of What Works: Languages Mentoring and Ambassador Programmes
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Following on from Towards a National Languages Strategy and its recommendation that ambassador and mentor schemes be expanded, the British Academy has produced a briefing note exploring what works in languages mentoring and ambassador programmes. This briefing is not a systematic review but instead aims to provide case studies, outline the practical aspects, and explore the effectiveness of such schemes. It is hoped that the briefing will also provide information for those who would like to initiate further schemes.

Case Studies

The briefing paper provides case studies of recent language mentoring programmes delivered to secondary school students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

  • The MFL Student Mentoring Project
  • Language Horizons
  • OWRI Student Language Ambassador Programme
  • Routes into Languages/Routes into Languages Cymru

Each case study considers the key elements of the programme: participants, ambassadors/mentors, aims, delivery method and resource requirements, and an overview of results.

Lessons Learned

The briefing paper concludes with lessons learned and notes that programme evaluations show that mentoring and ambassador initiatives can be effective in increasing the share of students taking languages at GCSE and A levels. It appears that more intensive programmes that offer limited small group mentoring with university students as mentors, seem to have a greater effect on student choices. Inspirational role modelling from a near-peer learner is the common factor in all models outlined.

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