Speaking their language

A former Truro College student, and now Schools Liaison and Outreach Officer for the Faculty of Modern Languages at Oxford University, returned to the College to inspire the next generation of Languages students at the Languages at University and Beyond event.

Dr Natasha Ryan (second from left) of Oxford University, with staff and Student Ambassadors from Truro College, at the ‘Languages at University and Beyond’ event

Dr Natasha Ryan studied Languages at Truro College from 2005 to 2007 before heading off to read French and English St Anne’s College, Oxford, after which she progressed to a Masters in Comparative Literature and then a Ph.D. Although she has enjoyed living abroad she is now working hard to increase the uptake of Languages study.

“There is a huge range of careers where languages can be used—it gives you more tools, and can complement other academic interests,” she says. “And it’s nice to work with schools from my home area, to help widen access to Oxford.”

This is the fifth successive year that the Modern Languages department at Truro and Penwith College have staged the event for Modern Foreign Language GCSE students. Dr Natasha Ryan’s interactive presentation was hugely inspiring for pupils and teachers alike, especially when they realised she was a former pupil and college student. The research, translating, interpreting and marketing workshops run by the languages staff allowed students to use their German, Spanish and French language skills and relate it to the world of work. Certificates were presented, and everyone left with a clearer vision of how languages fit into our global society.

This year saw 120 Year 10 pupils from nine schools attend for an inspiring, fun and very busy day. Schools involved included: Humphrey Davy, Looe, Penair, Penryn, Poltair, Pool, Richard Lander, St Ives and Truro High School for Girls.

There is currently a decline in languages uptake, due to budget changes and the perception that languages are difficult. The numbers studying Spanish have held quite steady, but French and German have declined, while Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and Japanese are increasing. There is more diversity in languages now, but fewer people taking them overall.

Ellie Mercer, Shane Dingle, Jessica Hudson, Izzy Clake, and Connor Keevill, who all study Spanish among other A Levels at Truro and Penwith College, were Language Ambassadors and assisted with the sessions. Izzy’s mum is Helen Clarke who teaches Spanish at the College—and she taught Natasha Ryan Spanish when she was at the college.

Of her time at Truro College Natasha said: “I wouldn’t be where I am now if it were not for Truro College. It is a very inspiring place to study and everyone says it feels more like a uni, so that makes it a perfect intermediate step between school and university. You get to be more independent, but there is still a lot of support. It’s a lovely environment, and just walking in you feel a buzz.”