Broadening Language Provision and Creating Independent and Engaged Language Learners

Language Futures is an exciting initiative for creative primary and secondary schools interested in developing languages beyond the classroom.  The core purpose of Language Futures is to generate deep engagement with learning, such that learners are motivated not solely by outcomes but also by the learning process, that they take responsibility for their learning both within and beyond the classroom, voluntarily extending it outside school.

A core feature of the approach is the personalised support offered to students by mentors who are volunteers with an in-depth knowledge and fluency in a particular language, recruited to provide good models of the language and advise students on language and learning tasks.  Mentors come from a wide variety of backgrounds (across the school and local wider community, local universities and businesses) and both teachers and pupils speak about their impact on learning.

Research Exercise

Over 2016/17, we are carrying out a rigorous research exercise which is exploring and evaluating the impact of the approach on learners, teachers, and the wider school community, particularly parents and mentors.  Research focusing on learners is exploring their learning outcomes, evaluating linguistic competence, progression, motivation and engagement, and autonomy. Research focusing on teachers is exploring the role of teacher-facilitator while research on the wider school community is examining the effects of the approach on perceived home-school relationships, as well as on mentors.

Over 2015/16, a Pilot Study Research Report was completed – an Executive Summary of the report is also now available.  The Pilot Study explored three key questions:

  • What progress do pupils make following the Language Futures approach?
  • How does their progress compare to conventional classroom-based progress in language learning?
  • What are some of the key factors that impact on this approach?

”The findings of this pilot study replicate the positive alignment of choice with motivation, and extend the identification of different elements of choice that contribute to positive engagement.  The identification of a multi-lingual environment as a motivational factor was an interesting, new finding.” (Language Futures Educational Researcher, Dr Rachel Hawkes).

Please see the Background section of our website for information on how this highly innovative approach has been developed over the last number of years.  The Approach page contains information on the core features of the Language Futures approach whilst the Getting Started page offers advice on how the approach can be established in your school, including planning and preparing for its introduction.  For further information on launching Language Futures in your school or on becoming a Language Futures mentor, contact the Language Futures Project Manager Clodagh Cooney at


Language Futures was originally developed by Linton Village College as part of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Initiative.  In September 2015 the Language Futures initiative was transferred to the Association for Language Learning, with legacy grant funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for the next two academic years.

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