Founded by serial French entrepreneur Camille Huyghues Despointes, World is a Village was originally launched as a homestay platform to connect families around the world to organise cross-border language and culture exchange trips for their teens. The new Digital Journey, built in response to overseas homestay and school trips being cancelled due to Covid-19, is an online educational programme aimed at fostering conversation between teenagers in different countries and boosting their confidence in foreign languages.
Founders4Schools’ mission is to bridge the gap between education and the world of work. Through this partnership, they aim to help pupils build an international network and develop their knowledge of the world around them. Through this, young people gain essential communication skills and self-confidence that help successfully transition from education into employment.
“The ability to speak multiple languages has opened many doors and opportunities in my professional career. The awareness of different cultures and the impact on behaviours has helped me to become a strong leader. The partnership with World is a Village (WIV) expands our ability to support young people to acquire cultural awareness and communication skills beyond what the standard curriculum provides them today; it is an opportunity that excites me personally and as the Managing Director of F4S. Our ambition is to equip students with the skills of tomorrow, to improve their employability and their confidence to achieve. The partnership WIV is yet another great opportunity to help us reach our goal.”
This comes at a time when teens exchanges are affected, not only by Covid-19 but also by Brexit, with the UK leaving Erasmus and its school twinning programme eTwinning earlier this month. Since 2005, 217,438 schools have benefitted from the European school twinning programme.
“As employers are recruiting more and more internationally - borders blur, and cultural awareness and language skills become increasingly important. The UK is not regarded as a leader when it comes to training our young people to communicate in foreign languages. Brexit and the end of the Erasmus programme don’t help; they amplify the issue. Partnering with World is a Village, which brings cultural connections and the possibility to communicate with young people abroad, is an outstanding opportunity for us to help young people and students build these skills and become better prepared for the future World of Work which is at the heart of Founders4Schools.”
The World is a Village Digital Journey experience is complementary to what children are taught in school language lessons and focuses on boosting the student’s confidence by increasing the frequency of their practice in a fun and relaxed environment, with students from across the world. The gamified platform brings teenagers together to practice a foreign language via games, quizzes and missions but also, just as importantly, opens them up to new cultures and ways of life at a time when global travel is on hold. These digital friendships will then translate into trip opportunities when borders reopen, whether they are organised by schools or by the families individually. World is a Village’s homestay platform is a great tool for families to connect with like-minded families abroad and organise future homestay trips for their children.
The Digital Journey is open to families, but also to schools who can use it as an extracurricular activity for their pupils or create twinned communities with partner schools abroad.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Modern Languages estimated that the UK was losing out on £4.8bn every year as a result of its lack of language skills. British Council’s Language Trend Report 2020 suggested that Brexit would have a negative impact on language learning in schools, with a shift in attitudes and an increasing number of pupils and their parents feeling that European language skills will be of limited use following the UK’s exit from the EU.
“As many secondary schools have found their normal physical exchange programmes with overseas schools curtailed due to Covid-19 and Brexit, we have found secondary schools are particularly receptive to this idea as a replacement for their physical programmes. This is also an innovative and affordable solution for those schools that don’t have an international exchange programme; teachers and students alike want to use technology to keep borders open and avoid being a less insular world”
‘’The dual impact of the COVID pandemic and Brexit on the UK will reverberate through our economy and society for some time. In terms of language education, the impact is clear. At a time when our country should be investing in developing language skills, socialising is difficult and travelling almost impossible. It is our role, as educators, parents, and future employers to mitigate these effects by finding new ways for our children and teenagers to socialise, make new friends abroad and open up to new cultures.’’
"This is a great platform for interaction between teens in a bilingual way, especially during these times when travel is restricted, as we can continue to make friendships as well as learn about different cultures and traditions and share experiences."