Transferable Skills Project Receives European Award

Posted on: 26 September 2005

The Transferable Skills in Third-Level Modern Languages Curricula project, which was initiated and directed by the Careers Services of TCD, DCU and WIT was awarded the European Award for Languages – the Language Label, by Léargas on 26th September 2005. This award, which is supported by the European Commission, recognises language-learning initiatives across Europe which are innovative, creative and motivating for learners.

Recipients of the award were Katrin Eberbach, Dr. Gillian Martin, Jürgen Barkhof, Dr Tim Jackson, Thomas Muller and Birgit Sens of the Department of Germanic Studies and Dr. Cormac O’Cuilleanáin and Elisa Sperati of the Department of Italian, and Rhona Sherry, Sean Gannon & Orlaith Tunney of the Careers Advisory Service.

“The Transferable Skills Project is innovative as it is the first time that specific research on transferable skills has been carried out in Ireland and consequently it first time that these skills have been highlighted within language learning in a very explicit way.” states Rhona Sherry, Project Officer, at the Careers Advisory Service, TCD. “The value of this project lies in the fact that it assists students to acknowledge that they gain much more than language skills through learning a language, thus increasing their confidence in themselves and in the marketability and relevance of their qualification when they graduate. Even if students do not ultimately work in a language-centred profession, they realise that they can apply the skills they have learned to a range of other professions and to a range of tasks within both their working and personal lives.”

The aim of the Transferable Skills Project is to raise language students’ awareness of their transferable skills by explicitly integrating these skills into their academic programmes. Research carried out by the project identified the kinds of transferable skills which are most important for third-level students to develop in preparation for their transition to the workplace. These included oral communication, time management, team work, presentation skills and multi-tasking. This research formed the basis of the project’s pilot programme which was implemented by academic staff in language courses they were teaching during the first term of the 2004/05 academic year.

For this pilot programme, each lecturer customised or developed skills materials for integration into their regular language curriculum, the purpose of which was to highlight their students’ skill development in tandem with their language learning. In Trinity Katrin Eberbach and Dr. Gillian Martin of the Dept of Germanic Studies and Dr. Cormac O’Cuilleanain designed the integration of skills into the curriculum for the pilot programme and along with their colleagues assisted in the delivery to students.An evaluation of the pilot programme revealed encouraging evidence that the students’ confidence in and awareness of their skills did appear to improve over the time period in question. While the project was implemented specifically with language students, its work is relevant to all disciplines, as all students can benefit from the development of these kinds of skills, regardless of discipline or career path.