Conference papers

  1. Collaboration with other sectors of education/marketing and recruitment
  2. Income generation
  3. Accreditation and recognition schemes
  4. Innovation in curriculum structure and content

1. Collaboration with other sectors of education/marketing and recruitment

Widening horizons: Charting progress the Aston way

Authors: Annie Bannerman and Nigel Reeves, University of Aston

This paper discusses Aston University's Widening Participation project, providing pathways into the University via Foundation Degrees, with a view to creating a new service and knowledge-based workforce in the Birmingham region. Languages form an important part of the knowledge economy and the Languages For Life project, launched in 2001, is described. Current Aston undergraduates are recruited as ambassadors for local schools and a supporting conference was held. Ways in which the project can be developed further are discussed.

'Sharing Words': Conversation, collaboration and cultural connections

Authors: Adrian Armstrong, University of Manchester and Diane Whitelegg, Xaverian College, Manchester

This paper examines the way in which native speakers of taught languages can be mobilised by universities for use in outreach activities. The authors suggest an empowering approach to facilitate cross-cultural communication. A questionnaire following such a scheme was administered to AS and A2 students, the results of which showed several benefits to the learners.

LATCOF: Lessons from a secondary/sixth-form/HE consultative forum for language teachers

Authors: Jocelyn Wyburd, University of Manchester, Elinor Chicken, Withington Girls' School, John Doherty, St Augustine of Canterbury High School, Oldham

The University of Manchester has hosted a forum for dialogue between tertiary and secondary language teachers to share pedagogic and curricular experiences and realities with the aim of facilitating student progression and bridging the secondary-tertiary 'gaps'. Participants have been surveyed to assess the impact of the dialogue process on them and their practice and to start to identify issues of broader relevance to the sector as a whole. This paper reports the experience of participants and responses to the survey.

Bridging the Gap: University of Manchester

Authors: Julie Lawton, Thomas Despositos, Susana Lorenzo, Annie Morton, Elena Polisca, University of Manchester

The University of Manchester's Bridging the Gap project to help students transition between GCSE, As and A2 level is described. Various forums and committees were set up to identify gaps in their respective syllabuses and events days were run at a Language College to help fill these gaps. Feedback on the events was good and it is hoped that this type of event will encourage more students to take languages at university level.

Enhancing student awareness of employability skills through the use of progress files

Authors: Dawn Leggott and Jane Stapleford, Leeds Metropolitan University

This study, which was inspired by the Dearing Report, aimed to explore the nature of student perception of their skills development. Taking place over five years and involving 35 undergraduate students, the study found that students had a low awareness of the skills that they were intended to develop and many of them were unaware of the skills requirements of employers. As a result of these findings, Personal Development Plans were used to bridge this gap and it is hoped that the experience gained form this study can be transferred to other contexts.

Researching 'Languages Work': Why don't teenagers pick languages?

Authors: Dominic Luddy, Teresa Tinsley and Jenny Knowles, CILT

With the removal of languages from the compulsory curriculum for 14-16 year olds, the post 16 decline in language learning is starting to affect numbers taking GCSE as well. Public debate centres on the importance of pupil choice, and the alleged unpopularity of the subject among teenagers. The 'Languages Work' project has produced materials designed to improve careers guidance in languages, and so increase take up. This paper outlines findings from our development work which sheds light on teenagers' attitudes towards languages and how to address their misconceptions.

Arousing an interest in school students for the take up of "new" languages at university; the ATLAS project

Authors: Terry King, Jane Hughes and Claire McAvinia, UCL

This presentation will report on the experience of designing and piloting a website which offers an introduction to the culture and language of five less taught languages to 14-19 year olds in nine partner schools in London and the South East. It is part of the work of the ATLAS project (A Taste of Languages in School), jointly funded by the Nuffield Foundation, CfBT and UCL, addressing the decline in numbers of students taking languages at university. The project aims to arouse an interest in language study and to spur consideration of study opportunities at university, especially ab initio courses in languages not studied at school. A survey of students' attitudes towards learning languages explored the reasons for discontinuing the study of languages after the compulsory stage and also investigated students' tastes in websites. It revealed there is much interest in learning 'new' languages.

2. Income generation

Making languages pay - academic integrity and commercial reality

Author: Ann Carlisle, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Over recent years, university language programmes have, by necessity, increased the emphasis on revenue-generating activity, which in some cases may be seen as creating a division between the academic and the non-academic. Here, the author shows out some of the benefits that this can bring, via three case studies, and makes the point that increased commercialisation can strengthen the foundations for future development.

3. Accreditation and recognition schemes

The agony and the ecstasy: Integrating new literacies and reflective portfolio writing into the languages curriculum

Authors: Marina Orsini-Jones and Monica Koehler-Ridley, Coventry University

This article reports on the impact of a curriculum innovation in the area of academic and professional skills for undergraduate linguists at Coventry University, the aims of which were to raise students' awareness of language learning processes and reflect upon their own learning. The authors that all involved found this curriculum development very beneficial.

Applying the CEF to Slovak university courses

Author: Dana Hanesová, Slovak Republic

The author starts her presentation with the historical background and current trends towards the application of the Common European Framework (CEF) in Slovak schools. Giving an example of an English course for Social Sciences, she then describes the specific phases of the application of the CEF.

The case for a common framework of reference for the validation of assessments of written English on English language degree programmes in Europe

Author: Carole Sedgwick, University of Surrey, Roehampton

The Bologna process carries out an agreement by European governments to create by 2010, a European Higher Education Area with two main degree cycles, undergraduate and graduate, and a common system of credits and quality assurance. In this climate of review, revision and collaboration, this paper describes a survey of existing practice with regard to expectations of attainment on degree programmes in Europe. It will also outline a proposal for a collaborative project to develop a framework for the self-validation of skill assessment on a language programme. The concept of validity informed the design of a questionnaire to collect qualitative and quantitative data on the final assessment of students' written English on English language degree programmes across Europe. Analysis of responses from 30 universities in 12 European countries revealed wide variation between different countries, within the same country and, in some cases, within the same degree programme. As a result of this survey, European partners have been identified to collaborate on the development of a framework for the self-validation of assessments of written English, which can inform the assessment of other skill areas and other languages.

Yes, but is PEL the same as ELP?

Authors: Marie-Odile Leconte, Leeds Metropolitan University and Patricia Monjo, IUFM Montpellier

In September 2003, Leeds Metropolitan University started delivering a new French specialist route on its BA(Hons) Primary Education and was paired with the IUFM of Montpellier in France. As lecturers from both institutions started collaborating together, we decided to look into the use of the Common European Framework and in particular the European Language Portfolio (ELP) as tools offering an element of commonality between France and the UK. How is the use of these interpreted differently in both countries? How much do these interpretations reflect a different approach to language learning and the means to achieve that learning?

A Common Framework for Chinese

Authors: George Zhang and Linda M Li, SOAS

The authors look at the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF) and posit that a complementary Europe-wide framework for Chinese is much needed. They claim that this is necessary as the CEF is politically, linguistically, socio-culturally inadequate for the issues facing the teaching and learning of Chinese. A number of ways of taking this idea forward are introduced.

4. Innovation in curriculum structure and content

Solo learning module: Giving control to the learner over materials and learning session design

Author: Graham Bishop, Open University

Normal practice in course construction is to supply learners with pre-selected material chosen by the teachers to illustrate a grammar syllabus or progression. This paper will discuss the reversal of this process. The learners will be invited to select the material they wish to learn from according to their needs and interests. The tutor will provide a bank of exercise typologies, graded for level of difficulty and by skill, and guide the learners on how to select a balanced learning session from the bank which is commensurate with their level of expertise and the skills they wish to concentrate on. This method will make maximum use of the motivation of the learners to work with material which they are already interested in and which may be of direct use to them. It will also allow them to specify which skills they wish to acquire or to prioritise.

Before navigating: Grief and the new landscape for Languages

Authors: Mike Gonzalez and Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow

This paper engages critically with the futures we are presently imagining in terms of the language of 'employability', 'service teaching', and 'skills'. It engages the energy of grief as of key structural import and argues that for us to learn to navigate anew, for us to be people who language and who bring the intellectual delight and the trouble of languages to life, in the university, then collective grief and the sense of loss are not marginal affairs. Indeed, the authors argue, this is the ground from which innovation, hope and imagination grow.

Ab initio language teaching in Scottish universities

Authors: David Bowker and Susan Stuart

This paper is based on a research project which reviewed the provision and operation of a range of ab initio language courses in Scottish universities. Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews helped sketch a picture of the Scottish situation. It was found that the current provision demonstrates a number of features highlighted in earlier UK research and that it is possible for students who start as beginners to exit as successful Honours graduates in the language. It may be, however, that the success of these students depends on a curriculum that is not appropriate for all students who take an ab initio course.

Storm clouds with a silver lining: New opportunities for language programmes

Author: Tim Connell, City University

Although university language programmes have undergone many difficulties during recent years, there have also been success stories. In this paper, the author balances the negative and the positive, encourages institutions to face the commercial argument head-on and provides a list of perspectives which language course providers can use to promote take-up.

New contexts for university languages: the Bologna Process, globalisation and employability

Author: Jim Coleman, Open University

So far, the Bologna Process is changing university studies in all countries except the UK. However, the author posits that the globalisation and commercialisation of HE may overtake the Bologna agenda and goes on to discuss this paradox. Prior strategies for emphasising employability have perhaps been badly-implemented and so suggestions for future improvement are included.

New hats for old: Intercultural competence and the integration of Language and Linguistics teaching

Authors: Sue Train, Nöelle Brick, Pat Lane and Libby Rothwell, Kingston University

This paper discusses the development, delivery and outcomes of a module in Intercultural Communication aimed at first year undergraduate students of English Language and Linguistics, French, and Spanish at Kingston University. The incorporation of key skills and the integration of the varied linguistic and cultural experiences of the students was central to the module.

Teachers' roles and training in intercultural education

Authors: Inma Álvarez and Cecilia Garrido

Foreign language degree programmes have been engaged, more than ever, in an active dialogue with other disciplines. In addition, these programmes can now be delivered in various environments. These recent developments have enhanced the learning experience, but they have also highlighted important implications for the roles and responsibilities of foreign language teachers. Here the authors summarise their investigation into the extent to which new approaches to foreign language teaching have had an impact on current established models of teacher education, and in particular, on how effectively the intercultural agenda has been incorporated in language teacher education programmes.

Content and language integrated university course: A task-based approach

Author: Anna Rita Tamponi, University College London

The presentation discusses the results of an experimental study carried out at UCL, Italian Department, aiming at finding an acquisitional model in order to abolish the barrier between content courses and language courses through a task-based approach to teaching/learning, and at creating a bridge between language and content courses. The presentation shows how an input, relevant to the learner (i.e. related to content courses) to be processed through tasks, raises motivation and allows a rapid interlanguage change and development. Results of a two year experiment will be presented, acquisitional models will be discussed and operational solutions will be proposed.

Go forth and multiply: the UU experience of extending language provision at the University of Ulster

Author: Alvaro Jaspe, University of Ulster

Magee Campus has developed new diplomas and undergraduate degree courses in modern languages in response to the perceived decline in demand for language places at university level. This article will assess circumstances prevailing in Northern Ireland with regard to language provision, then examine the specific experience of language provision at UU, the Magee campus in particular: previous language provision, centred around one course, has been extended to combine with new options from subjects within Arts, Business, Social and Health Sciences. It will reflect on the reservations of some languages staff and others to this new association. It offers an insight into the changes and pressures imposed on languages staff UK-wide, within - as reflected in the title - an environment of adapt or perish.

Big is beautiful: Institution-wide language provision for two universities

Author: Andrea Dlaska, University of Zurich

In this paper, the author describes the operation of a Language Centre which offers its services to two institutions, the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The advantages of such a system are described, especially with regard to size and diversity. The Centre sees its role as an engine of cooperation between the two institutions.

Online self-study: The way forward

Author: Cécile Tschirhart, London Metropolitan University

After two years in existence the LondonMet e-packs (on-line language materials) are now being used by a number of UK universities and Companies. The LondonMet e-packs consist of twelve on-line sessions and contain 100 exercises per language. These include a substantial number of listening activities aimed at developing and integrating the other skills.

Spain today: Language and contemporary society at your fingertips

Authors: Jacky Collins and Ariane Bogain, Northumbria University

Many institutions have introduced e-learning into the languages curriculum, often with a commensurate reduction in the number of contact hours. The authors describe this approach using the Spain Today web site at Northumbria University. Student motivation was reported to be high and the site was regularly visited, though the interactive tools available were not greatly used. However, a blended mode was strongly supported by a majority of students. It was found that overall student performance was actually slightly lower than when more contact hours were included. The authors also note that e-learning often shows itself to be far more time-consuming than traditional teaching.

'English for Excellence': an innovative, comprehensive, web-based and tutor-supported programme of study in Academic English

Author: Dimitra Koutsantoni, University of Luton

This paper is a presentation of 'English for Excellence' (EfE): a web-based and tutor-supported programme of study in Academic English. The EfE is a project initiative jointly funded by the University of Luton and the Higher Education European Social Fund (HE ESF) programme, under the theme of Widening Participation. The paper discusses the research base of the teaching materials, their content and presentation, followed by interim evaluation results of its beneficiary effects on learners.

Collaborative writing in Russian with shared text editor

Authors: Lydia Buravova and Jane Hughes, University College London

A shared text editor was introduced into a Russian class in writing skills and used over a period of four years. It was initially adopted for its potential practical advantages over a traditional classroom whiteboard. Its use has led to new language learning activities that have contributed to the whole language programme and the writing class has become more integrated into the language programme as a whole. Opportunities for sharing and collaboration have been greatly increased and the role of the teacher has changed.

Implementing a digital multi-media language learning environment

Author: Derrik Ferney, Anglia Polytechnic University

This article examines a number of the practical and pedagogic considerations involved in the implementation of a digital language learning environment. It makes a distinction between digital audio-lingual and digital multi-media learning environments and focuses mainly on the latter which, because they provide a computer for every user, have rather more pedagogic potential (and are considerably more expensive) than digital audio-lingual systems. The article - presented here in shortened form - aims to providing readers with an analysis of the practical and pedagogic factors involved in deciding to move from analogue to digital materials.

On-line languages and reflective learning

Authors: Mike Thacker, Cathy Pyle and Anne Irving, University of Surrey

This paper describes a programme of university language courses, delivered as a combination of both online and face-to-face teaching. The authors believe that the approach taken can promote learner reflection. Evaluation studies reported a good level of student satisfaction and focus groups indicated an increased quality of student work. Further work to foster greater reflection is discussed.

An interim assessment of the introduction of accredited portfolios in introductory French courses

Author: Christine Penman, University of Stirling

This paper reports on the introduction of accredited portfolios into an ab initio French language course at the University of Stirling. These were introduced to help students progress from a teacher-led learning environment into one in which a more autonomous approach was required. Student feedback was mainly positive, whilst a slight improvement in grades was also reported. However, some areas of difficulty would benefit from further development.

The year abroad: A critical moment

Authors: Brenda Johnston and Florence Myles (co-authors Rosamond Mitchell and Peter Ford), University of Southampton

The year abroad component has faced challenges in recently, although it represents a life-changing experience for most students. This paper illustrates the importance of the year abroad to the undergraduate language degree, drawing on research evidence arising from an ESRC funded project of the development of criticality in undergraduates. Our suggestion, supported by our empirical evidence, is that the Year Abroad has a powerful role in allowing language students to develop in the domains of the self and the world which in turn helps progression in the domain of reason, and feeds into their ability to engage critically with academic work.

Identifying student needs for the year abroad preparation

Author: Ulrike Bavendiek, University of Liverpool

The author examines student needs in preparing for the year abroad, looking at the relationship between metacognitive learning strategies and linguistic development during the year abroad, and how students' subjectivities relate to their linguistic development. The author summarises her findings by producing a list of steps that would ideally be included in a year abroad preparation course.

Virtual learning and virtual teaching: challenging learner and teacher identities in a distance learning professional development programme

Authors: Mark Pegrum and Marion Spöring, University of Dundee

This paper examined the dual roles - student and teacher - played by participants in a postgraduate programme for language teachers, the Master's in Teaching Modern Languages to Adults (TMLA), run in online mode at the University of Dundee, Scotland, since 2003. It was explained that in order to enrol as a student on the programme, an individual must already be a practising teacher of languages, usually at post-compulsory level. Participants are spread across the world, from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the Americas.