Interview, News

MMU Languages ‘Best Overall Department’

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Dr Derek Bousfield receiving the 'Best Overall Department' award for the Languages Department

Dr Derek Bousfield (Head of Department) receiving the ‘Best Overall Department’ award for the Languages Department

On 26th May 2014, the Languages Department at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) won ‘Best Overall Department’ at MMU Teaching Awards, and the Department’s Dr Huw Bell also won a MMUnion ‘You’re Brilliant’ award from his final year class.

Humanity Hallows got on the case and spoke with several of the Language Department’s student representatives to find out exactly how this state of affairs came to be.

Oscar Cesare Greco

Second year studying BA (Hons) TESOL & Linguistics

HH: Can you tell me some of the things a Language course rep does?

OCG: The main role of a course rep is to act as a mediator between students and University staff. Reps collect feedback from students, and then ensure that the issues they raise are addressed efficiently and effectively in staff-student liaison and programme board meetings. An informed course rep must also be an active member in student events, and keep themselves as fully informed as possible as to any ongoing and future activities. This helps hold us together as a small, tight-knit group.

Course RepsAnnabel Forster

Final year studying BA (Hons) German & Linguistics

HH: Do you feel that your role has contributed to the success of the Languages department this year, and if so, how?

AF: I do think that my role as a course rep has contributed to the department this year. There have been a few problems with Erasmus payments that students have approached me with. After feeding this back to the lecturers, this problem was quickly sorted out. I think it’s really important to have course reps so that the staff know what is going on!

Hannah Sykes

Final year studying BA (Hons) Language & TESOL

HH: Do you feel that your role has contributed to the success of the Languages department this year, and if so, how?

HS: After 5 years at MMU and after many of us spent a whole year abroad, everyone in our year has become friends. I simply tried to speak to as many people as possible. I think it has definitely been a very successful year but I do not think that this was down to my role in particular. I think it was more through a collaborative effort involving lots of people in the department. John Byrne, who was completely new to us at the beginning of the year, made it easier to discuss issues and give feedback and Chris Jones, the Programme Leader, actually acted on the feedback given to him. It doesn’t matter how much or how valuable the feedback is if there is no one in the department who can act on it or who wants to hear it. This is quite an important fact, and I think it marks the difference between the role of the Languages course rep and the representatives in other departments.

Dr Huw Bell and his students

Dr Huw Bell and his students

Jennifer Rose Hanley

Final year studying BA (Hons) Spanish & Italian

HH: So the Languages department is now officially the best overall department at MMU. How do you think that happened?

JRH: It’s lovely to hear that Languages has been voted the best department in MMU! I think this must be thanks to the sheer dedication of the lecturers and the language support tutor, John Byrne, who have always been there to give advice, help, or extra homework and feedback. They all seem genuinely in love with their subject area. One other thing that makes our department the best is definitely the media centre. Not only does it give us space to practice languages together, but also it’s been a catalyst in much of the friendship-making over the four years that I’ve been here. It’s great knowing there’s a place in the uni where you can always find someone to hang or study with.

Zaynab Salim

Second year studying BA (Hons) French & Linguistics

HH: We’ve heard that Dr Huw Bell (senior lecturer in TESOL) has had a role to play in the department’s success. Can you tell us anything about them?

ZS: Huw’s just an amazing teacher. I have to say he’s actually been one of my favourite teachers ever because he has a lot of passion about his subject. You can tell from the amount of information he knows about it, and by the fact that he explains it with such clarity and confidence that a three hour lesson just goes by in a blink of an eye – you’re that taken in by what he’s talking about. He’s very funny as well so it provides some light relief from all the information being thrown at you.

Dr Christopher Jones

Programme leader of BA (Hons) Language Programme

CJ: I think that I can speak for all of us on the staff side when I say that our great reps have been indispensable to us in understanding things from a student point of view. There’s been a lot of talk about feedback, but this year I believe that we’ve managed to go one step further: it’s really had the feeling of a dialogue, an ongoing discussion with our students about what’s working well along with suggestions for where to improve.

Angus is an aspiring writer, hobbyist photographer, and undergraduate student of English and Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is originally from Dundee, Scotland and has been living in Manchester, England since the summer of 2011. 

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