Well, what a weekend we’ve just had! Another training weekend successfully completed, and we can’t stop beaming about the entire experience – the people we’ve had the privilege to meet, the fascinating conversations we’ve had, and the overall atmosphere of joy among our mentors!

In total 44 trainee mentors joined us in Cardiff for two days in order to learn more about MFL Mentoring and what it means to be part of the project, learning from some of our incredible current mentors, who played an integral role throughout the training weekend.

‘Sharing diverse ideas’ 

It’s always exciting to meet a new intake of mentors, and this training weekend was no different. Joining us from Aberystwyth, Bangor, Wrexham Glyndŵr, Swansea, Cardiff and Cardiff Met, we knew this would be an interesting weekend before we even began!

Usually, our training weekends are held in different locations across the country, but this weekend saw them all come together from across Wales, allowing us to work with our new cohort of mentors in one big group.  

 As always, one of the best parts about meeting the mentors was finding out more about who they are and what motivated them to get involved with the project.

With mentors from almost every corner of the globe, from Wales and the UK, to India, Poland, China, Spain, Vietnam, Cyprus, the Philippines, and so many other places in between, it’s a rare and wonderful opportunity to have so many individuals from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds all together in one place.  

The feedback we had from one of our mentors after the event sums this up perfectly: ‘I didn’t expect a lot of people from different cultures to be in one space and sharing diverse ideas. I loved that and enjoyed the company of such lovely people!’ 

The mentors are also studying such a wide array of different subjects, from language courses to subjects including marketing, business, zoology, song-writing, law, comics, and criminology. It’s inspiring to see people with such varied backgrounds and specialities come together and find commonality over their shared love of languages.  

We also couldn’t be prouder of our current mentors who came into their own over the course of the training weekend, working hard and taking the reins in the training of the new cohort.

We were lucky enough to be joined by mentors Alice, Dom, Firial, Elliott, Hannah, Jacob and Jules all weekend. From start to finish, they set a perfect example of everything an MFL Mentor should be, which is particularly impressive when you consider some of them only began their mentoring journey with us back in September! 

It’s not that you can’t find a language you like. It’s that you haven’t found a language you like yet... 

Over the weekend, the mentors learnt first-hand from the project team about what the role of an MFL Mentor entails and took part in practical hands-on activities with our current mentors, covering topics including mentor skills and qualities, safeguarding in schools and an interactive ideas fayre.   

In one of the activities, where mentors discussed how to respond to negative attitudes surrounding languages in schools, there were some particularly brilliant responses.  

Hypothetically responding to learners who didn’t want to engage with international languages due to their dislike of learning Cymraeg, one group had the following advice: “You need to think of languages a bit like sports. You might not like one sport, but you might find that you enjoy another completely different sport with different rules.” 

Another great response to this from another group was: “It’s not that you can’t find a language you like. It’s that you haven’t found a language you like yet.” 

We also encouraged mentors to reflect on their multilingual selves, asking them to visualise different aspects of their multilingual identities by placing sticky notes on a world map.  

Again, it was amazing to see how much everyone had in common despite their different backgrounds.  

No matter where in the world they’re from and what course they’re studying, our mentors all share a common bond of being multilingual individuals, and are enthusiastic about sharing that part of themselves with learners across Wales with the hope of inspiring them to pursue their own multilingual journey.  

Over the course of the weekend, we also asked our trainee mentors to answer some questions for us that we could potentially use their responses in future resources.

When asked what language they would love to learn one day, one of our mentors replied: “Punjabi, because my family speaks it but I never learnt it myself.”  

Similarly, in response to the same question, another mentor replied: “Gaelic, because it’s a lost language in my family and I love how it sounds.” 

Although answering with two different languages, the sentiment shared between these two mentors is the same – reclaiming a part of their identity that has been taken away or lost.

This might be something they’ll be able to tap into with their learners too, given the different attitudes towards Cymraeg in different parts of the country.  

Next steps 

We are currently allocating schools as we speak, which we do based on who we think will be a particularly good match for each school on a case by case basis.  

We can’t wait to see where our mentors end up and what the future holds for them after such a wonderful training weekend!  

Now that they’re part of the MFL Mentoring family, we’re looking forward to getting to know them more and finding out more about their time with learners.  

 And who knows, hopefully some of them will return later this year to train future mentors….