Digital Modern Languages Seminar Series

Digital Modern Languages Seminar Series
11 December 2019, 5.30pm - 7.30pm
Room 1.02, Bush House South East Wing, King’s College London

Modern Languages and Student Mentoring: Digital Innovation and Raising Motivation for Languages in England and Wales

Speakers: Claire Gorrara, Lucy Jenkins and Neil Mosley
Statistics released by the Welsh Government in 2018 revealed that only 18.6% of young Welsh learners took a GCSE in a foreign language in 2017. Whilst not so stark, the situation in England is not dissimilar with sustained declines apparent over the last 20 years which have only recently been slowed. The MFL Student Mentoring Project (funded by Welsh Government) and Language Horizons (funded by the Department for Education) are mentoring projects which aim to arrest and reverse the decline in uptake of languages at GCSE level, both in Wales and England respectively. The MFL Student Mentoring Project which has been running since 2015 is a partnership between Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea universities. Language Horizons, is currently a partnership between the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, Warwick University and Coventry University. Both these projects look beyond single language learning to promote a positive shift in attitudes towards languages and intercultural communication by sending UG and PG language students into secondary schools to mentor year 8 or year 9 pupils.
This presentation will explore how mentoring methodologies have been brought together with digital technologies in Wales and England through the creation of a digital languages mentoring experience to improve pupil motivation. We will explore the role of the digital across these two projects and discuss the design and methodological approaches taken. We will consider potential benefits and pitfalls of collaborative working, digital technology and peer-to-peer learning for increasing intercultural awareness and language learning. These two mentoring projects demonstrate the value of developing engaging practices and platforms which promote languages as a key component of our multicultural and multilingual realities.  

Claire Gorrara is Professor of French at Cardiff University and is Chair of the University Council of Modern Languages. She is Academic Lead for the Welsh Government funded MFL Mentoring Project. Lucy Jenkins is the National Coordinator of the MFL Mentoring Project and is also Project Manager for Language Horizons, a Department for Education funded digital mentoring project for languages. Neil Mosley is Digital Learning Designer at the Centre for Education Support and Innovation and project lead for Cardiff University’s online courses. Together they co-authored a 2018 report (pdf) on ‘Modern Languages and Mentoring: Supporting Digital Learning across Language Communities in Wales’, based on the Digi-Languages pilot project on online mentoring. 

The seminar will be followed by a wine reception.

For more information about the series see: 

This series is part of the AHRC-funded Open World Research Initiative, and is supported by OWRI projects Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community and Language Acts and Worldmaking projects, and by the AHRC Leadership Fellow for Modern Languages (Janice Carruthers). The series is convened by Paul Spence (King’s College London) and Naomi Wells (Institute of Modern Languages Research).


Elizabeth Dearnley
020 7862 8738