This edition of Herts for Languages blog sees the launch of the first in a series of guest posts by language experts. Our last blog of the academic year is on the theme of community and resilience in the language teaching and learning world.
At HfL, we work hard to bring together language teachers; through our training and conferences and through our Strategic Learning Networks for Languages (SLN), launched in 2003. The SLN, which meet every half-term and are free to join, have enabled collaboration between a wide layer of primary and secondary teachers, improving transition between key stage 2 and 3. Every year, their work is showcased at our annual SLN presentation and again at our conferences for Primary and Secondary Leaders of Languages conferences in December. If you would like to join one of our networks, please contact Ruth.Brown@Hertsforlearning.co.uk.
‘Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable’: communities and resilience in languages
Post by Dr Anna Lise Gordon, President of the Association of Language Learning and Academic Director for Teaching and Learning at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
‘I am delighted to be invited to write this guest blog and have chosen to focus on the importance of community in the MFL teaching profession. Having followed Herts for Languages over a number of years, I am aware of their commitment and energy in leading and supporting modern language enthusiasts across a wide range of primary and secondary schools in Hertfordshire and beyond.
So, what is community? Broadly speaking, it’s a social group of any size who share common values and a shared sense of purpose, often in a specific area of interest. I am involved in a number of professional communities. My level of involvement varies considerably, from being President of ALL which is a busy and active role, to little more than attending meetings to learn from others. The most important online community in my current role is #mfltwitterati, an amazing group of MFL enthusiasts (including @herts_languages) who share their work, ideas and resources freely. This online forum provides a welcome opportunity to celebrate and be inspired by so much positive work that it is going on across the country to inspire children and young people in their language learning.
When we are extremely busy and dealing with a range of challenges, it is easy to think that we do not have time to engage with community. However, there is a Kenyan proverb which encapsulates the importance of community for me: ‘Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable’. We all know the value of collaborative learning, the importance of discussions and networking, as well as the inspiration that comes from sharing ideas with others. I am reminded of these benefits every time I summon the energy after a busy week at work to attend an ALL event, always returning home refreshed, brimming with ideas and ready for action!
At a time when teacher recruitment and retention is of concern, we all have an important role to play in actively supporting new teacher colleagues, modelling the benefits of working collaboratively and encouraging them to join in our communities as equal and valued members.
Speaking personally and professionally, the Association for Language Learning has been a community of huge significance throughout my career and I would urge you to join me as active members. Be inspired to connect and engage with community, by checking the ALL website – www.all-languages.org.uk. As a modern language community of teachers, we are stronger together!’
See you in September …
Herts for Languages’ next blog post will be in September. In the meantime, take time to reflect over the summer on the following quote by John Le Carré, spoken at this year’s German Teacher Awards.
‘To learn a foreign language is an act of friendship;
to teach one an act of generosity and heroism.’
After 44 years of such heroism, it is with much sadness that we say farewell to Jackie Rayment, who has been the Languages Adviser at Herts for Learning for 11 years. If, as the Kenyan proverb says, ‘sticks tied in a bundle are stronger’, Jackie has been the string holding us together. So over to Jackie to have the final word and to wish you all happy summer.
I am writing to inform you that I will be leaving Herts for Learning at the end of term, as I am retiring after 44 years in education.
Whilst I am excited about this new challenge and chapter of my life, I am also sad to be leaving Hertfordshire. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with so many of you over the past 11 years, and with such outstanding colleagues in secondary, primary and special schools in the LA.
Thank you all for the support and friendship that you have shown me over the years. I have learnt so much from working with you all.
From September, Yvonne Kennedy will take over the reins, so I leave you in her very capable hands.
Best wishes to you all for the future,