So you can bend a ball like Beckham, but can you get your tongue around another language?

Elizabeth Manrique, director of languages at Bethnal Green Academy, tells us about their approach to language learning, and how Vocab Express supported a recent German exchange trip…

“At Bethnal Green Academy, we try and make language lessons as engaging and exciting as possible. In 2012, we introduced the Arsenal Double Club, a combined football and language learning programme which was devised to increase students’ interest and confidence in languages in an active way.

We ran the programme with our Year 8 students to boost enthusiasm for languages ahead of their GCSE options. Delivered in two 45-minute ‘halves’ – one practical, one theory – our PE and languages department worked together to ensure the programme ran smoothly.

Following this, we spoke to Steve Eadon, the programme’s coordinator, about fundraising money to support a language exchange trip. Through Steve, I was introduced to Karl Pfeiffer, Director of Educational Links at the London Institut Goethe, who had some funding available for an exchange trip to Germany. He generously gave us £5,000, the Arsenal Double Club gave us an additional £2,000 and as a school we matched this so that we had enough to take 18 students to Berlin.

As we don’t teach German at Bethnal Green Academy, we needed a language learning tool that would help our students pick up essential vocabulary in a short space of time in the lead up to the trip. We also wanted to do something linked to the World Cup 2014 in Rio so thought it would be a good idea to challenge students to learn Brazilian Portuguese while the students were in Berlin. With this in mind, we needed something that presented language learning as achievable, rewarding and fun, while at the same time could monitor students’ academic progress. Vocab Express turned out to be the perfect solution! Our students used 1000 Word Challenge free online platform for their German vocabulary and Vocab Express specifically devised a language competition so our students and the German students could compete to learn as much Brazilian Portuguese as possible.

The trip was a complete success and all the students said how much they enjoyed putting their German and Brazilian Portuguese to the test using Vocab Express.

I would definitely recommend Vocab Express to other schools. In fact, we’re now keen to subscribe to the tool from next academic year!” 

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