Student Languages Assistant

Image of Patrizia Lavizani

Hear from Patrizia Lavizani, Teaching Fellow in Languages for All, in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies about this year's project:

In Languages for All (LfA) we offer a variety of credit-bearing modules in European and non-European languages as Discovery Theme modules to all University students.

As Italian language co-ordinator, this year, I have introduced a new project which is based on facilitating and enhancing students learning via the benefit derived from learning from each other (Fingerson & Culley, 2001).

I asked students in the Department of Italian who are in their Third or Final year of the degree course to collaborate with me in class and share their knowledge of Italian (using their language skills learned at degree level and during their year abroad) with our LfA students learning Italian.

In Semester 2, they were offered the opportunity to gain some teaching experience, enhance their employability prospects and develop transferable skills including digital skills, as well as using the Italian language as a means to promote intercultural awareness.

Fingerson, L. & Culley, A. (2001). Collaborators in teaching and learning: Undergraduate teaching assistants in the classroom. Teaching Sociology, 29(3), 299-315.

Hear more from one of the students who participated in this project:

“My name is Lauren Hall and I study French and Italian at the University of Leeds. I've previously spent two months in Lille, France and a year in Verona, Italy and I'm currently in my final year of University.

Image of student language assistant, Lauren

In the second semester, I have been a Languages Assistant for Languages for All Beginners’ Italian alongside my studies. I'm hoping to become a teacher after I finish university as I really enjoy helping others to learn foreign languages and this role really helped me to get a better understanding of the profession.

As a Languages Assistant, I prepare and present mini presentations each week on different topics such as specific grammar points or aspects of Italian culture. As well as doing the presentations, I also have a blog where I post my PowerPoint presentations and reflect upon what went well and how I could improve upon my performance. Having a blog has been a really useful addition to the presentations as the students can revisit topics that we’ve covered and I can look back on the progression I’ve made. I have loved helping the students to learn something new and interesting about the Italian language and culture and I feel like it’s a topic that I’m very passionate about after spending a year in Verona.

The LfA classes are very stimulating and interesting and I loved working with Patrizia Lavizani who made the classes very enjoyable for everyone. Because the number of students per class is only small, it was easier for them to interact and ask questions throughout my presentations. Usually, I would do a presentation and then ask the students questions to engage them in the activity and make sure they understood the spoken Italian.

I feel that this voluntary role has really helped me to prepare to become a teacher because I can see an improvement in my communication skills, confidence and presenting skills. As most of the presentations are taught in Italian, these lessons have also helped me to consolidate my Italian language skills as my language is much more active now that I do presentations once a week. I believe the students have improved upon a lot of skills since I have been doing these presentations, mainly listening and comprehension skills in the target language. I have really enjoyed helping the students gain a better understanding of Italian and I am always happy to answer any questions that they have outside of the classes.

My role as a Languages Assistant has been a wonderful opportunity and has allowed me to make a difference to my personal development as well as the development of the students. This new project, brought together by Patrizia Lavizani in LfA, is another great addition to the many language learning activities that the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, and the Language Centre offer and has really helped me grow as a person and inspired and strengthen my will to become a teacher."

Find out more about Languages for All: www.leeds.ac.uk/languagesforall