Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)

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

“I found PAL really helpful because the second years were really good at discussing grammar points that I needed to improve on. I also felt the sessions helped me to feel more motivated and made studying a language Ab-Initio feel less overwhelming. PAL sessions complement the teaching on the course really well!”

Maddie, first year German and Spanish Language
‌‌ “As a PAL leader, I have loved interacting with the freshers as they have navigated their way through first year, struggling with many of the same topics as I did. I hope the scheme can continue to offer academic and social support for those starting University for the first time.”

Eleanor, French PAL Leader

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

For general queries about the scheme, contact the PAL Academic Contact for Languages: lorena.lopez@york.ac.uk