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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics

Why Not Languages? Resources for school teachers and pupils

Why study languages?

These resources aim to inspire pupils to include languages amongst their subject choices for GCSE and A level, and to consider studying them at university.  Find out why languages are important, rewarding and useful, and enjoy some translation and language taster activities to discover new skills and languages.  

'Why Not Languages' is an annual programme of widening participation events and activities for schools (mainly in the East of England) with low participation in Higher Education. These events promote and enhance language learning in schools, and encourage pupils to continue with their language studies at GCSE, A-Level and at university level. We work in partnership with colleagues at the University’s Language Centre and the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies to create targeted resources and activities for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.

In response to COVID-19 and the move to virtual events, this year's programme has been amended to include online resources, available on an ongoing basis for independent use by school teachers and students.


Talk - 'Why Not Languages at GCSE?'

By Dr Stuart Davis, Director of Outreach & Schools Liaison and Senior Lecturer in Spanish at the University of Cambridge



Workshop - An Introduction to Haiku Translation

By Katrina Barnes, Translator and Teacher, Comberton Village College


Language Taster - German

By Maren de Vincent-Humphreys, Language Teaching Officer at the University of Cambridge (MMLL)


German handout 1 - Teacher Information sheet

German handout 2 - Student handout


German taster video


Language Taster - Arabic

By Farida El Keiy, Language Teaching Officer at the University of Cambridge (FAMES)


Arabic Handout 1 - Oral exercise

Arabic Handout 2 - Arabic script


Arabic taster video


Language Taster - Russian

By Dr Anna Schneider, Language Teaching Officer at the University of Cambridge (MMLL)


Russian Handout 1 - Cyrillic Alphabet

Russian Handout 2 - Dialogue


Russian taster video


Language Taster - Hebrew

By Dr Benjamin Kantor, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Cambridge (FAMES)


Hebrew Handout 1 - The Modern Hebrew Alphabet

Hebrew Handout 2 - Vowel Chart

Hebrew Handout 3 - Dialogue


Hebrew taster video

Sample Lectures & Worksheets

French sample lecture - 'Language Shift' - Video / Worksheet

French sample lecture - 'Lexical Borrowing' Video / Worksheet

German sample lecture - 'Introduction to reading Kafka' - Video / Worksheet

Spanish sample lecture - 'A 21st Century Narrative of the Spanish Civil War' - Video / Worksheet

Italian sample lecture - 'Medieval Visions of Vice & Virtue in Giotto's Arena Chapel in Padova and Dante's Comedy' - Video / Worksheet

Portuguese sample lecture - 'A Translation Challenge' - Video / Worksheet


Student Testimonials

Find out what some of our current students have to say about their language choices and their experiences at Cambridge University



Visit MEITS' newly-launched suite of games about languages and multilingualism at, which show that learning languages is fun and easier than you might think.


Click HERE to return to the main Outreach pages to find out about access & participation, events for prospective students, and further resources for students and teachers.