University of Salford – Language Gateways into the Professions: Arabic for students on Built Environment degrees

Author(s): Teresa Birks
Institution/Organisation: CILT, the National Centre for Languages (UK)


1.1 Scope of the initiative


The Language Gateways into the Professions project is an innovative partnership project coordinated by CILT, the National Centre for Languages and funded by DIUS, the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills.

Partners in the project include the modern languages departments and vocational (engineering or built environment) departments within the Universities of Bristol, Kingston, Loughborough and Salford working in collaboration with sector skills councils, professional bodies and employer to design and deliver contextualised language courses to students on engineering and built environment degrees.

The four partner HEIs developed courses autonomously from one another though shared and learnt from each other’s experiences over a period of one year during which the four HEIs and other partners met four times.

Specific – Salford

  • An initiative undertaken in collaboration between the school of languages and the built environment department
  • Aimed at undergraduate students on Built Environment degrees
  • Hopes to encourage student take up of the optional year abroad work placement in Dubai

1.2 Range of languages learned

  • Arabic – The programme is offered over 8 weeks (2 contact hours per week) with additional on-line learning materials (total of 20 hours tuition).
  • Ab initio
  • Course was optional
  • Arabic chosen because of optional one year industrial placement abroad in Dubai

1.3 Learning outcomes

  • Familiarise students with aspects of Arabic language and culture which are particularly relevant to their undergraduate programme of study and career intentions
  • Basic-level communicative skills in some everyday and context-specific situations
  • Course aims to develop built environment context-specific language skills
  • Understand and write very simple messages
  • Have some understanding of the way of life and specific work environment in the countries where Arabic is spoken

1.4 Practical realisation

  • Development of a contextualised language curriculum though much of the course has had to be generic because of the nature of Arabic for ab initio students
  • Difficult to contextualise from the beginning, but vocational context is being integrated into the course
  • Integration of language learning with student’s mainstream academic subject
  • Collaboration between language department and built environment department
  • Improve graduate employability
  • Encourage students to take optional year abroad work experience in Dubai
  • Collaboration with employer
  • Use of the Asset Languages
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