The PPSS pilot programme aimed to improve student’s employability by developing effective communication skills in a professional and personal context in another language. It incorporated the latest trends in teaching and learning methods and was focused on graduate skills and competencies.
Of the initial 72 initial expressions of interest, 60 students undertook the Polylang module and 47 completed in-country trainings in the UAE, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain over the summer 2018. The University of Westminster established new partnerships with universities in these countries to get students enrolled in a language summer course.
The scheme was possible thanks to £150K grant offered by the Quentin Hogg Trust to the Westminster Professional Language Centre in 2016. It grew as a collaborative effort between Student Mobility, Finance, Polylang staff and the Distant Horizons Fund.
Students had to submit a two-minute video in the target language on completion of the in-country training. The videos showed them, often with no previous language experience, speaking competently and coherently about their time in-country.
Kate Weir, Principal Lecturer in Academic Enterprise and organiser of the scheme, said: “When I see in our students’ videos the progress they have made and how much they have enjoyed the experience, then I know that the planning and preparation were truly worthwhile!”
Michele Gaspe, a Business Economics BA student who went to China, said: “The overall experience has been great, the partner chosen by the University of Westminster who hosted us for the program had excellent facilities and efficient staff who assisted us with everything we needed. Being directly exposed to the culture and to the people here in China has truly maximised my learning experience.”
Maria Campuzano Perez, a Journalism BA student who completed her in-country training in Italy, commented: “It was an amazing opportunity to enhance my learning of Italian beyond the Polylang module and my course with the chance to do the in-country training in the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the Western world. I got to meet people from very diverse backgrounds and the teachers there were very flexible and adapted to our different levels.”