The Language Cafe

Language Café

This European Commission funded project built on the concept of café culture to provide informal, social settings for people to get together, practise languages and share cultural interests.  We developed a multilingual website which includes downloadable materials offering advice on setting up and joining a Language Cafe, publicity and sponsorship, and ideas for activities (


October, 2006 - September, 2008

Key contact(s):

Funded by:

Commission of the European Communities Socrates Lingua programme


The Language Café

Project gets lifelong learning award

Marie Weaver and Alison Dickens

The Language Café Project was last week awarded one of six European Awards for Lifelong Learning at a ceremony in Barcelona. The Language Café project worked in with partners in 8 European countries to develop a model for community based language learning that offers a sociable and enjoyable way of improving language skills for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Language Café model is deliberately simple to enable café goers (the learning community) to set up and manage the cafés themselves using community spaces such as cafés, libraries, bookshops, sport centres etc. Since the project ended many of the original cafés have kept going and many more have been added (over 50 cafés are listed on the Language Café website). To support new cafés the project has put together some easy to use guides on how to set up and maintain a café which are downloadable from the project website. LLAS itself has just received funding from JISC to run a Community Café project which will be using the Language Café model to work with local community language teachers (in Southampton and Hampshire) to support the creation and sharing of teaching materials for community languages. The Subject Centre has also been approached by other groups seeking EU funding who are keen to adapt the Language Café idea to other groups.  

Alison Dickens, Language Cafe Project Director, says:

“This award really goes to all the language café goers who made and continue to make the Language Café Project such a success. It is heartening to see so much enthusiasm for the idea and we think it has great potential in supporting informal language learning for non-traditional learners."

For further information on the EU Lifelong learning programme visit the European Commission Education & Training website.

The EU has also produced a publication "Education and training for social inclusion. European Success Stories" which includes details about the winning projects plus 20 others shortlisted for the European Awards for Lifelong Learning Programme (pdf download).

Project partners:

  • UK, Subject Centre for LLAS, University of Southampton (lead partner)
  • Dalarna University College, Falun, Sweden
  • Izmir University, Izmir, Turkey
  • Libra Books Ltd, Budapest, Hungary
  • Lessius Hogeschool, Antwerp, Belgium
  • University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria
  • Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Public Service Language Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Public Service Language Centre, Riga, Latvia

Project aims:

The main aims of the project were to promote self-managed and non-traditional language learning that is replicable and sustainable through creating partnerships between hosts and/or coffee providers and language enthusiasts.


The main outcomes of the project were at least one self-managed Language Café in each partner country, a set of resources to support the management, hosting and sustainability of the Cafés and a website to disseminate information and to create a network of Cafés across Europe.

Further resources available on our website:

Opening the Door to Language Learning (OdLL)

Opening the door to language learning (OdLL) was a three-year project funded by the European Community Socrates Programme, which sought to develop and test strategies for increasing access to language learning. We worked with partners in Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Spain and Sweden.

Join the Club

LLAS was a partner in this Lingua 1 project, which established a network of community based language learning clubs.