Watson - South West education set to impress Euro Commissioner

October 15, 2008 3:27 PM

This Friday the European Commissioner for Languages, Leonard Orban will be in the West Country following an invitation from the South West's Liberal Democrat MEP Graham Watson. The Commissioner will be a key note speaker for a Conference at Exeter University which will discuss the importance of teaching emerging languages such as Chinese in the West's schools.

This is the second European Commissioner in as many weeks that Graham has welcomed to the West Country, and ahead of the visit Graham Watson commented;

"It is great to get the opportunity to show key European figures what we are doing here in the South West. Our schools and colleges have a lot to be proud of.

China is becoming increasingly important in to all of us in the global economy, and if youngsters here can learn some Chinese it can only be good for our children and region's future.

The Broadening Horizons scheme offering students this opportunity has already been a great success. I'm pleased the Commissioner will get to visit the Sir Bernard Lovell School to meet some of the students involved in this Chinese language scheme.

Graham went on to comment;

"As a former interpreter I am pleased we will also be getting the chance to visit Bath University's Languages Department with the chance to meet a number of the students on the courses there".

Also speaking at the Conference in Exeter will be the Taiwanese Representative to the UK, Ms Katharine Siao-Yue Chang, as well as Academics from Exeter University, and representatives from the British Council and the South West Regional Development Agency.

Following the Conference the Commissioner and Graham Watson will visit the Sir Bernard Lovell School, in Oldham Common Bristol where they will meet students and Taiwanese teaching assistants Wei Lee and Yen-Han Hu. The teaching assistants provide tuition in Mandarin Chinese under the 'Broadening Horizons' scheme first implemented last year.

From there the Commissioner will travel to the International Learning and Research Centre in Bristol to view its facilities.

They will then go to the University of Bath to view its translating and interpreting department and participate in a question and answer session from students.

Editors note:-

The 'Broadening Horizons' scheme, which Graham Watson MEP established last year, provides a teaching assistant to schools keen to introduce Mandarin but previously held back by budgetary constraints. In return for providing accommodation, food and covering basic administration costs, the schools get an assistant for between 8 and 12 hours per week to work with pupils of all ages, feeder primary schools, and where demand is such, the wider community too.

The participating schools involved in the 'Broadening Horizons' scheme 2008-2009 are: Hayle Community School (Cornwall), Penrice Community College (Cornwall), Pilton Community College (Devon), The Sir John Colfox (Dorset), Kingsmead Community School (Somerset), Huish Episcopi School (Somerset) and The Sir Bernard Lovell School (Oldham Common, Bristol),The John Bentley School (Wiltshire) and The Cotswold School (Gloucestershire).

The Chinese Teaching Conference will take place from 9:30am-12 noon at The University of Exeter.

The Conference is free to attend. Those interested should email admin@grahamwatsonmep.org with their details.