Accessibility statement

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) for Language Degree Students

Language Degree PAL information slides and semester 2 timetable

What is PAL for Languages?

Peer Assisted Learning is a scheme which facilitates student-to-student support within Languages degree programmes. Second-year students are trained to offer mentoring to first-year students on the same course.

PAL is a dedicated space to discuss topics from the Languages modules beyond seminars, allowing students to develop and explore particular interests. The purpose of PAL is both to enhance the academic experience and also to offer informal support with the personal challenges of making the transition to University education. The scheme is voluntary, both for first years to attend and for second years to become Leaders.

How is PAL organised?

Each PAL Leader is assigned a small number of first-year students; together they choose how often to meet, either one-to-one or in a small group. This arrangement gives flexibility to students and Leaders, to make the most of the opportunity to enhance their learning outside of the taught degree course.

What happens in a PAL session?

First-year students choose what they want to cover in a session, according to what they feel they need support with or are interested in discussing. Second-year students are ideally suited to assist them, as they have just completed the same modules during the previous academic year. Whilst PAL is an excellent context to practise oral language skills and reinforce understanding of key concepts, the focus is not exclusively academic. PAL is about learning in all forms, including the wider experience of University life.

Sessions are informal and are not a supplement to teaching. Whilst Leaders may be able to clarify questions about the modules, the focus is on sharing ideas at a peer-to-peer level.

What are the benefits?

For first-year students:

  • Improving communication skills, especially in the target language.
  • Approaching learning from a collaborative perspective in an informal context.
  • Improving both academic and personal confidence.
  • Being part of a learning community which extends beyond their year group.
  • Developing self-reflective learning practises.

For PAL leaders:

  • Consolidating their own knowledge and deepening understanding of course material.
  • Developing leadership, teamwork, interpersonal and organisational skills.
  • Personal satisfaction of supporting others.
  • York Award recognition.
  • Excellent experience for employability.
  • Quality-assured, highly interactive training in small-group facilitation techniques.

Testimonials from last year's MFL PAL Leaders


"I am interested in becoming an MFL PAL leader because not only is it a great opportunity to volunteer and become more involved in the languages department, but also because I believe that it is extremely important for first year students to receive guidance from their peers, who have shared their experiences and can therefore offer more personal advice. I would love to have the opportunity to share my knowledge of the languages I study, however equally, it would be nice to feel like I am helping students to navigate the sometimes daunting world of university life. Since I used to volunteer at a Spanish club whilst at school to help younger students with topics they found difficult, I believe that I have acquired good communication and listening skills that I can transfer to this role when helping students with questions and queries regarding seminar information or the course. Furthermore, I believe that I am organised and can manage my time well, meaning I can be relied on to attend all sessions and lead them with confidence to the best of my ability, all with the aim of creating a safe, comfortable environment for the attending students."

Molly Bull


"I would like to help other students with any queries they may have about the course and be an approachable fellow student to assist them. I think I will also gain valuable skills in leadership and teamwork, which will be used in future work placements. This is also something I can add to my CV for increased employability in the future, as I would like to potentially go into teaching after my degree."

Megan Hickling


"I think I’d be good at it. I have experience teaching before and I’ll give it my very best shot."

Annabelle Heritage


"Becoming an MFL PAL leader would give me the opportunity to practice and perfect my Spanish skills, which I will be able to apply not only in my lectures but also when I go on my year abroad. During my first year I went to a few PAL sessions and they had helped me clear up any questions I had, therefore I would also like to be a part of a team and help future first years. In addition, working with the PAL team would provide great volunteering experience to my CV, which would demonstrate my dedication to improving my language and communication skills."

Karina Kalinkina

Our Department also offers Peer Assisted Learning for Languages for All courses. More information here.

For general queries about the scheme, contact the MFL PAL & Intercultural PAL Coordinator: