The Click, Connect, Learn fund is funded by Nesta and was launched in order to explore how digital technology could work to make volunteer tutoring more accessible. In 2017, Language Futures was announced as one of three organisations to receive a grant to model, implement and evaluate their work in this area. CCL LF is led by our partner organisation Whole Education.
A key objective of the CCL funding is to broaden languages provision, offering pupils opportunities to study a language of their choice (either within the curriculum or as enrichment) while being supported in their learning by an online language mentor. Currently, we are trialling this highly innovative model of language learning to support KS3, KS4 and KS5 across a range of languages (Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish).
Mentors are required to deliver a short online session to a small group of students once a week.
This academic year, we are collaborating with the University of Cambridge where the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages’ outreach department is supporting recruitment of language students to act as online language mentors. We are also being supported in the training of students by Cambridge Student Community Action (SCA), a group working to encourage the involvement of students in voluntary community work.
Recently, the project offered a kick-off training session for student mentors hosted by Cambridge SCA. Mentors received training on how to approach digital volunteering and how to work with schools and pupils in a languages classroom. The CCL LF project team was very impressed by the enthusiasm and passion for languages demonstrated by the mentees who gave a variety of reasons for becoming involved in the project:
I want to get involved as I want to spread my love of languages and share my own knowledge … give back the support my teachers gave me.
I feel like languages aren’t been valued enough in schools around the country which leads to students feeling that it’s pointless or boring to learn languages. I want to help make sure that every student has the opportunity and the tools necessary to fuel their own language learning experience and feel motivated to learn a language completely of their own choosing.
My motivation for being part of this project is that I want to be part of the effort to keep language learning alive – communication is the most human and the most integral part of living, so we should do everything we can to preserve languages.
Access to language learning is important to me because it facilitates communication and enriches cultural understanding and awareness through promoting the positivity of each having our own unique language.
I wanted to be involved with the project because I think access to languages is something every student deserves, and the online aspect makes it much easier and convenient to communicate with students.
I have been volunteering in schools for several years, and I would like to try something new by committing to online mentoring. Language is important because it respects not only communication but cultures.
English native speakers tend to expect others to know English. Learning a different language apart from stimulating intellect, opens an understanding of different cultures. I find languages fascinating and think more people should learn multiple languages. You become more tolerant and open to difference.
I want to make languages trendy! Language learning was discouraged at my school, and now I want to help pupils who don’t have support. Languages are for life – good support can give pupils a passion for languages that will last a lifetime.
I wanted to get some teaching experience with a view to working as a language assistant in France after my degree. Having been educated in the comprehensive system, I am all for widening access to languages.
For further information on becoming involved either as a school or language mentor, please contact the LF – CCL Project Lead Clodagh Cooney.