PUPILS across East Renfrewshire will get a helping hand with their language skills, thanks to some special guests from France and Spain.

Six students and university graduates have come from abroad to spend the next school year helping local kids get to grips with new languages.

The arrival of the foreign language assistants – Nerea Perez, Claire Kacar, Pablo Sanchez, Marie Albertini, Manon Nalem and Gabrielle Druhen – is part of an annual project supported by the British Council, which is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.

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The initiative sees native speakers in the likes of French, Spanish, German, Italian and Mandarin Chinese being brought in to help students across UK schools develop language skills and understand other cultures.

Marilyn Brennan, quality improvement officer in the education department at East Renfrewshire Council, told the Barrhead News: “We are delighted to welcome another group of foreign language assistants to work in our schools.

“The language assistants make a unique and hugely valuable contribution to our learners’ experiences in French and Spanish.

“As well as developing pupils’ cultural and linguistic understanding and bringing that ‘real-life’ authenticity to the classroom, they also play an important role in building talking and listening skills and supporting our senior pupils as they prepare for SQA exams in these skills.

“All of the assistants are either university students or graduates and will be working across all the schools in East Renfrewshire in clusters.

“They will be staying until the end of May 2020.”

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Youngsters at Barrhead High School staged a special event for the new arrivals, with young piper Heather Grant making sure the six guests enjoyed a traditional Scottish welcome.

This year, four assistants have arrived from France, with two more making the journey from Spain.

They will work with small groups of pupils, either alongside existing teachers or on their own, to help the youngsters improve their confidence with foreign languages and give them a taste of what life is like in other countries.