Headshot Young Girl

Susan Andrews

VIA22 EMEA

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Challenge

My challenge is how might we support pupils in rural areas to develop their modern language skills? Throughout my teaching career I have witnessed teachers struggling with their own language acquisition skills, before disseminating lessons and learning to pupils. This lack of confidence, coupled with a lack of access to resources without high cost implications has created a barrier to meaningful learning. If teachers themselves are not confident in their skills base, then how will they create confident learners, engaging in the wider world and using their language skills? Through research, it has been identified that rural schools are comparatively poorer in teaching foreign languages, and this is a global issue as seen by the work of the Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco in Mexico and the University of Science and Technology in Bangladesh. This is thought to be due to the cultural diversity in rural areas being far less than in larger cities, so pupils and staff are not exposed to such a wide variety of language on a daily basis. Rural poverty, as discussed by Education Scotland, has a significant impact on children's development of identity and belonging as needs tend to be hidden behind the ‘rural idyll’. With educational attainment impacted not only by the significantly higher cost of living, but by a lack of specialist academic or vocational courses, tied to social isolation, largely due to a lack of social venues or peer activities. Expanding pupils' horizons and building a stronger awareness of the wider world and its communities would engage and empower all pupils, celebrating success beyond their school community.