International students at Preston’s university are improving their English language skills and learning more about conservation at the same time.
It is all thanks to a new initiative run by the Language Academy at UCLan and the university’s Students’ Union.
This is the first time the Language Academy has adopted the theme of sustainability into its annual English language summer school, which sees international students from around the world working together to develop their language skills.
More than 80 students from Angola, Brazil, China, Columbia Hong Kong, Italy, Korea, Portugal and Spain have taken part so far and the project has even been given the thumbs up from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) after Gordon Franks, Higher Education Policy Adviser, visited UCLan to see the project in action.
The week long course, Eco English, was a joint initiative between UCLan’s Students Union Green Ladder Project, which is funded by the National Union of Students via the Students’ Green Fund to support green volunteering and transformation projects, and The Language Academy, part of The School of Language, Literature and International Studies.
Gordon Franks said: “This is a great way to keep Student Green Fund projects active throughout the year, and making them accessible to visiting students. Visiting international and UCLan students will benefit from shared experiences which will go a long way to spreading the word about all the work being achieved by the Student Green Fund.”
Events have included a tour of an ethical business, an energy trail across the campus looking at air source heat pumps, solar panels and rain harvesting and working in the campus’ new Secret Garden and a local nature reserve.
The international students have all spent time working in the UCLan Secret Garden; a forest garden in the heart of the Preston campus that will provide a leafy and environmentally sustainable haven for visitors.
It is one of four areas on campus that will be transformed over the next two years as part of the Green Ladder Project.
Hou Yuanging, 21, from Gengdan Institute near Beijing in China, said: “I’ve never tried gardening before as it’s not something we really do in China. I’ve taken a lot of pride in my work and had lots of fun doing it. I hope I get the opportunity to do it again when I return home.”
Her teacher Melody Yuan, who is an English instructor at Gengdan, added: “The students have enjoyed taking part in all of the eco activities.
“It’s allowed them to learn new words that they have never come across before and make friends with students from other countries.”
Emma Bartlet, Green Ladder Project manager, praised the project. She said: “The Eco English course has helped the students to take classroom learning and apply it in real-life situations.
“It’s also the ideal way for the Students’ Union to engage with international students and it’s allowed us to share our exciting Green Ladder Project with a wider audience.”