A group of GCSE students recently visited Sheffield-based Ancon Building Products to see how modern languages are used in a busy commercial environment.
The visit from pupils of Minsthorpe Community College in Wakefield was organised by the Open University as part of Routes into Languages, a national initiative to encourage language learning beyond secondary education.
Ancon is well placed to demonstrate the value of languages in the workplace. The company manufactures a wide range of steel products for masonry and concrete construction which it exports worldwide. It has distributors throughout Europe and a sales office in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Hervé Poveda, Manager of Ancon’s UK-based Products for Structural Concrete sales division, said,
“In the business world, language barriers can limit sales growth. It is essential that Ancon is able to communicate, from the UK, with its colleagues and customers overseas. The foreign language skills of our staff are invaluable and our export sales continue to grow year-on-year.”
The students completed various activities whilst at Ancon. They read and interpreted French business correspondences from a product enquiry through to a sales invoice, and conversed in French with UK employees from the Sales and Marketing departments, who use language skills in their everyday work duties.
Margaret Senior, speaking on behalf of the Open University and Routes into Languages, said,
“Ancon was able to show the relevance of language learning to the world-of-work, something which is difficult to achieve from the classroom. The students thoroughly enjoyed their time at the business and embraced the opportunity to practise and develop their French language skills.”
The visit clearly had the desired effect on the students. Feedback forms included such positive comments as “It has made me want to continue to study a language after school” and “It has made me more aware of how languages are used by Industry”.
The commitment shown by Ancon to this and similar educational projects in its local community has earned the company ‘Business Language Champion’ status.
The Routes into Languages programme is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council and the Department for Children, Schools and Families. For more information please visit www.routesintolanguages.ac.uk