Posted by: LLAS projects team | April 1, 2011

Community Cafe final party and showcase!

The Community Cafe project held its final party and showcase on 29th March, at MountPleasant Junior School, Southampton! The event was a joyous evening of food, dancing, singing – and of course showcasing the work of the project to each other and to our visitors from the university and from the city council.

Sarwar Jamil, our invaluable partner in the project from the Community Languages Service at the council, started the proceedings by giving welcomes, thanks, and ‘well dones’ to the group of teachers who have joined in the work this year. Next up were Alison Dickens and myself to talk about the project, the LanguageBox, and some of the resources that have been created and shared this year through LB. Then came the important bit: Paul Nugent, Head of Standards at Southampton City Council kindly presented certificates to all participants in the project. It was a very proud moment for all of us!

After this, we had the opportunity to show our visitors some of the resources that have been created over this year and published and shared on the LanguageBox. Several teachers talked through their resources – everything from audio recordings + translation and transcript to interactive online activities and colourful powerpoint files. The visitors were impressed by their achievements this year!

We ended the evening with a fantastic dance performed by Abanti, and a song by Fateha (who was joined halfway through by Sarwar), and delicious food provided by all the teachers.

It was sad to be saying goodbye to each other after all our laughter, fun and work together this year, but it was a lovely evening and a lovely end to a really enjoyable, successful partnership…and of course, it’s not really the end. The teachers will take forward their learnings from the project, as will we, and the LanguageBox will continue to grow and be used by more and more community-based language teachers across the UK. Have a look at LanguageBox…see what we’ve done this year – and maybe you will join us too?

Kate B

Posted by: LLAS projects team | March 25, 2011

The end is in sight…

As the title suggests, the end of the project is indeed in sight!

This month, we have had a final cafe meeting and a final workshop. The cafe session on 1st March was a chance to reflect upon what we have achieved and learnt over the last year, and yes, to eat carrot cake. As we all reviewed the resources that have gone into LanguageBox – and there are many different types of resource in there now – it seemed to give us extra energy to create more, and I think that as we come to the end of the project, it is perhaps clearer to see how we can tie all of the workshops/cafe meetings together. This will lead to a final burst of creative activity to close the project – so keep an eye on LanguageBox.

Our final workshop on 22nd March, was a time to work on existing resources, polish and perfect the work that has gone on over the year. Next week is our final party and showcase, and we want everything to look good for then!

Kate B

The community cafe team

The Community cafe team

Posted by: LLAS projects team | February 25, 2011

Tips for the top

The day after my trip up North, we held another cafe meeting in Southampton, at MountPleasant School. Once more, the group indulged its obsession with carrot cake, tea and laughter, as we had another fun meeting.

This week, we were lucky to have two guest speakers – familiar faces, Jackie Berry and Liz Lord, from Hampshire County Council Children’s Services Department. They visited us back in October to tell us all about how to use Powerpoint to great effect, and were so good, that we asked them back! This time, they ran a workshop on how to teach diverse age ranges/abilities within one group, which was packed with great ideas and top tips for interesting lessons.

This particular issue is one that the community languages teachers in Southampton (and all over the UK) are very familiar with and have to find ways to deal with in their teaching lives. The situation comes about because CL teachers are usually voluntary and always give their lessons in supplementary schools ‘out-of-hours.’ This often means that teachers are only available for short and limited periods of time and so all learners have to be taken in one session. One of the ladies in Southampton teaches Hungarian, and as she is the only person in the area who does this, there are great demands on her time – she says that she has double the prep to do for her classes, because she has to split the group in two to reflect age/ability differences: two classes in one session (how to be in two places at once?!).

Jackie and Liz gave a lot of advice on how to deal with diverse ages/ranges in one group and all of their materials and handouts will shortly be available on the LanguageBox for everyone to benefit from. Watch that space!

Kate B

Posted by: LLAS projects team | February 24, 2011

Northern Lights

Hello there!

It was another trip to our friends in the North again this week, as I visited the group of community language teachers coordinated by Manchester Metropolitan University, Colt project.

It was a miserable, rainy, cold day, in Manchester, but I received a wonderful warm welcome and made lots of new friends! I ran a Hot Potatoes/LanguageBox workshop: using Hot Potatoes to create matching exercises which can then be published straight onto the LanguageBox website. Creation to publication and use-by-students in one complete process! There were about 22 attendees teaching a range of languages including Urdu, Arabic, Chinese and Italian. I was really pleased to be able to ask Robina Akram to stand up and talk about her Urdu teaching work and the resources that she has created and uploaded to LB. You can see an example at:

Robina was keen to stress to the group that she wanted to share and collaborate with other Urdu teachers, because “why re-invent the wheel?” You can see more of her resources as she uploads them over the next few months.

By the end of the session, everyone had their own, custom-made Hot Potatoes exercise – and even better, a burning ambition to create more! I look forward to seeing some of their creations appearing on LB soon.

Kate B

Posted by: LLAS projects team | February 4, 2011

More Hot Potatoes in the new year

Community Cafe is back in business after the new year – we’ve been slightly delayed by having to cancel one meeting (the wave of sickness that everyone seemed to suffer over Christmas hit LLAS in the new year!) but on Feb 1st, it was business as normal.

We had our first workshop of 2011 – and it was a return to an old friend, Hot Potatoes. After the success of the workshop before Christmas on using HP to create matching exercises, we decided to run a second on using quizzes. In next to no time, the cafe group were downloading pics and creating exercises to use with their students – for some reason, there seemed to be a great many activities on food – this topic  is obviously close to students’ hearts! We are going to use the next workshop session to edit and upload all this material to LanguageBox – so watch LB for activities in Urdu, Polish, Hungarian, Chinese, Bengali…

Oh, and we had good cake too…

Krystyna planning her online activity

Kate B


Posted by: LLAS projects team | December 16, 2010

Hot Potatoes at the last meet before Christmas

Our final workshop before the Christmas break was held on Dec 7th, at the University of Southampton. All the usual elements were present: smiling faces, teachers ready to try something new…and cake!

The session was on the free software Hot Potatoes. I’ve used this software to create language learning activities for some years now, so I gave the session. We focused on creating simple matching tasks to practice key vocabulary. HP is really simple to use, so after a quick walk-through and demo of how to create activities, change colours/fonts/buttons/text, everyone hit the computers and got started!

By the end, everyone was proud to publish an attractive vocab exercise, using drag and drop – and all the teachers agreed that their students would love this kind of activity. We also got onto how to find copyright-friendly images online and how to embed these – and attribute correctly – into an HP activity. Many of the group are keen to experiment now with embedding audio and video files…and we look forward to sharing the results on LanguageBox!

Kate B

Posted by: LLAS projects team | November 22, 2010

The Cafe goes North!

Project Director (Alison Dickens) and Project Manager (me – Kate) braved the wilds of Manchester recently, to take the Community Cafe to a northern audience (well, I say ‘the wilds’ – it was actually wilder back in Southampton which was hit by torrential rain and violent storms during our absence…we’re not sorry we missed that!) coordinated by the COLT project at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The COLT project is part of Routes into Languages, a national project working at getting school children learning languages, and it has contacts with community languages teachers across the Manchester area.

We held two workshops to introduce LanguageBox and the project to two groups of teachers: an Urdu-speaking group and an Arabic-speaking group. It was great to make new friends and I hope that we have recruited new participants into the project. We were certainly impressed by the materials creation that goes on amongst both groups of teachers – and the usage of digital resources that already goes on. During the workshop, we shared some ‘top teaching tips’ and had a good chat about effective teaching strategies and which methods really work when teaching youngsters ‘out-of-hours’. It is clear that a tremendous amount of excellent teaching is going on in Manchester in the area of community languages, and that this teaching is often better supported by mainstream authorities than is the case in the Southampton. While this is likely down to the demographic mix in the Manchester area, I think it shows how much can be achieved with just a small amount of resource.

We so enjoyed our meeting with ‘our friends in the North’ that we intend to bring them into the project and will make another visit there in February.

IT workshopKate B

Posted by: LLAS projects team | November 4, 2010

The Power of Powerpoint

This week saw another enjoyable workshop: this time on the topic of Powerpoint for Language Teaching. We were really fortunate to have Jackie Berry and Liz Lord, from Hampshire County Council Children’s Services Department visiting us to facilitate the workshop. Jackie has developed a comprehensive and useful suite of resources designed to teach various elements of Powerpoint 2010, and these formed the basis of an informative and inspiring session.

All attendees were fired up by the possibilites offered by ppt – and the snazzy things that can be done with colours, animations and sounds. Jackie demonstrated how simple but effective activities could be created to teach basic language points. Both Jackie and Liz have experience teaching French at primary school and this was invaluable in relating the features of powerpoint to actual classroom usage – especially when considering motivating activities for young learners.

Our two hours flew by – so much so that I think the next session will be devoted to more powerpoint work…yet again, we seem to have the beginnings of great things here!

Kate B

Posted by: LLAS projects team | October 14, 2010

Birthdays and teaching tips

Our latest cafe session (Tues 12th October) featured the ever-popular carrot cake and tea – and turned into something of a birthday celebration! Gurwinder (one of teachers of Punjabi) turned 21 at the weekend and so we raised our cups and our cake in her honour (and wished we had brought candles), and we welcomed Humaira back after a prolonged absence due to advanced pregnancy – with the wonderful news that she gave birth to a healthy child just nine days ago! She looked great, and not actually that tired considering the circumstances! She was regretful of missing the podcasting workshop – but had very good reasons for doing so…

In the cafe this week, I reviewed how to use the LanguageBox website and showed off some of Krystyna’s Polish resources which she has been uploading regularly to the site. She is putting together a suite of materials on the topic of ‘famous Polish people’. This is a topic that she uses regularly with her students and is very popular- it also lends itself to a range of multimedia resources. I reminded the group how to put comments on other people’s resources, and was thrilled when, in the subsequent practice, Abanti immediately went and commented on one of my own resources – the start of a wave of reviewing, I hope!

We also talked about how we could add activities to the podcasts created in the last workshop, to make them useful for other teachers to use once they are published and shared on the LanguageBox. The group intend to prepare transcripts, translations and activities in time for the next workshop, which will be on the topic of powerpoint, and will be facilitated by two guest presenters from the Hampshire county council primary languages service.

We also talked about how to be creative in the use of technology: many teachers teach in rooms which do not have computers or Smartboards in them – and are only rarely allowed to use computer work stations. Many even have limited access to CD players/tape players in their work. We talked through the idea that they could make use of the fact that most pupils (if not all) have computer and internet access at home, and so once files are published on the LanguageBox, can be accessed and used outside of class to prepare  for class or revise post-class. This issue of access to technology is one that the project team will broach again with the local council, to see if anything can be done to assist our enthusiastic teachers in the use of technology in their work.

Kate B

Posted by: LLAS projects team | October 1, 2010

Workshop 2: podcasting

We’ve started the new academic year with a word and a song…and by creating some audio material!

Our first workshop of the new term was held this week, on the topic of podcasting. We were lucky to have an invited trainer, senior lecturer Rose Clark, from the School of Languages and Area Studies at the University of Portsmouth, who conducted a session on the why, when and how of podcasting using the software ‘Audacity’. The community cafe-ers had all been busy in the week before, preparing scripts to record, and thinking up ideas of how their podcasts could be used in their teaching – and we all had great fun recording everything from stories, descriptions, directions to  instructions and mini lectures in languages including Urdu, Hungarian, Bengali, Punjabi, Polish, Chinese. Our next cafe session will see the group considering how to add activities to the podcasts to give them a teaching context – before we share them on the LanguageBox.

We all found the software really easy to use, and as Rose gave the group instructions on how to download Audacity for themselves, I could see this workshop being the start of something big for audio recordings in community languages…

Kate B

Older Posts »