Subject Centre Report 2003-4

Author: Liz Hudswell


This document serves to provide a brief update on the key areas of activity for the Subject Centre in 2003-4. You may wish to forward this to Subject Associations, colleagues in your department or other parties interested in the work of the Subject Centre.

This article was added to our website on 02/09/04 at which time all links were checked. However, we cannot guarantee that the links are still valid.

Table of contents


English language and linguistics: from 'A' to BA

This event explored the content of English Language 'A' levels and their relation to first year undergraduate Linguistics programmes (event report)

Selling Languages

This workshop in November was also well attended. This event examined some of the findings of recent research into attitudes towards language learning and the effectiveness of primary language learning and ab initio degree programmes. It explored curriculum developments that have been adopted to respond to the changing needs of students. The National Recognition Scheme (Languages Ladder) and its relation to progression in language learning at all levels and the future of the year abroad were also considered (event report).

International Association for Languages and Intercultural Learning (IALIC)

At the IALIC conference in December, the Subject Centre organised a pedagogical forum. Through a number of presentations given by conference delegates, the forum explored specific issues relating to the learning, teaching and assessing of intercultural skills (event report).

Teaching methodology, philosophy and social theory in Area Studies

This event was held at the University of Stirling and brought together speakers from a variety of discipline areas (Slavonic Studies, Sociology, American Studies, Geosciences, Modern Languages) and focused on bringing an interdisciplinary approach to teaching (event report).

Area Studies conference

This one-day conference was held in London and included contributions from all the Subject Centres participating in the Area Studies project. Themes of presentations ranged from the teaching of economics on interdisciplinary programmes to languages and area studies on holiday'. The plenary address was given by Sir Harold Walker, former Ambassador to Iraq. The event prompted two articles in the THES, one on the issue of the vulnerability of Area Studies courses and the other on health and safety in fieldwork (event report).

Other Area Studies events

There have been events organised by partner Subject Centres as part of their contribution to the Area Studies project. C-SAP (Sociology, Anthropology and Politics) ran an event Teaching and Learning Africa . GEES (Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences) organised one on overseas fieldwork.

Promoting and evaluating the use of the European Language Portfolio

The School of Modern Languages received money from Nuffield to test different ways of using the portfolio. The Subject Centre agreed to disseminate the findings of the project through this workshop, which included four presentations involving 11 institutions.

Extending good practice in LWULT languages

This was the final workshop for the dissemination project allowing the seven mini-projects to present their work.

Residence Abroad

The aim of this event was to consider the following

  • How to market the benefits of Residence Abroad
  • Improving the support offered to students wanting to do work placements
  • Good practice in the preparation of and support for students undertaking a period of residence abroad.
  • How residence abroad can enhance employability.
  • Health and safety

More resources on residence abroad will shortly appear on our website (event report).

Materials development workshop

This event covered the commercialisation of homegrown resources, working with publishers and copyright and also included some short descriptions of practice. Richard McKracken's copyright session was appreciated and the Subject Centre is therefore running an event in November on copyright (event report).

Making your point in HE!

This was a hands-on workshop on using Microsoft PowerPoint in Language teaching in Higher Education. The number of registrations to this event was low but it was very much appreciated by those who attended.

Linguistics in Applied Linguistics MA programmes

This event was very well attended. The speakers have been invited to contribute an article based on their presentation, which will go into the Good Practice Guide (event report).

Modern Languages and the development of student criticality

The content of this workshop was put together by the criticality project, an ESRC funded project based at the University of Southampton. The project has been investigating the intellectual and social development of Modern Languages undergraduates in the course of their degree programme (event report).

Subject Centre/CILT conference:
Navigating the New Landscape for Languages: Languages and Related studies in Higher Education

Our biennial conference was held at SOAS this year. Plenary speakers included Lid King, National Director for Languages, Liz Beaty, Director of Teaching and Learning at HEFCE, Carol Taylor Torsello from the Italian Association of University Language Centres and Dick Hudson, Professor of Linguistics at UCL. There were approximately 70 workshop sessions covering the themes of collaboration with other sectors, income generation, accreditation and language schemes and innovation in curriculum structure and content (conference website).

More information about these and other Subject Centre events can be found in the event archive section of this website.


Re-thinking pedagogical models for e learning

This is the learning technologies project, which we are funding at the University of Sheffield. The project is carrying a literature review and has devised a questionnaire to map activity in the sector. They will shortly be commissioning case studies and report that some institutions are emerging as possible case studies. The project has done presentations at conferences and they report that the one at Language World was well attended.

Area Studies project

Funding for this project will end in July of this year though we are hoping that the work started through the project will continue. The aim of the project has been to engender a sense of community between practitioners of different Area Studies courses. The work of John Canning, Academic Coordinator for Area Studies, has done much to bring this about.

Extending good practice in less widely used less taught languages

The mini projects have now completed their work and are writing case studies for inclusion in the GPG. Each project has also written a project report and the project officer has written an overview of the activity of the project as a whole. Those who have participated are keen to set up a Special Interest Group to consider issues specific to LWULT languages.

Pedagogical research in Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies

This project also comprised a number of mini-projects. A workshop was held in February at which project leaders presented their findings. All the projects delivered detailed reports and case studies. We feel that this project and the LWULT project (above) represent excellent value for money and hope that we will have sufficient resources to fund similar mini-projects in the future.

Lingua projects: Join the Club and Opening the Door

Join the Club is due to finish in the autumn. Opening the Door is currently in phase two of its project term. Each of the projects is trialling a second activity which aims to promote the use of language resource centres. Ali is working with Southampton City Library to run a series of sessions enabling members of the public to reactivate their skill in a language previously learned.

Collaboration programme

The collaboration programme is in its final year. The two-year projects are now complete. Other projects will finish in September after which a final report on the processes of collaboration will be written. HEFCE is very interested in the work of the programme and the lessons learned about working collaboratively. The ten projects which make up this programme and the structure of the programme as a whole, have also generated a lot of interest in the languages community and beyond. More information can be found on the Subject Centre website at

DfES research project

The Subject Centre and UCML have received funding from the DfES to carry out a research project. There are three strands to the project

  • Research into current provision and trends (to be carried out by the DfES using HESA data)
  • Mapping professional/vocational routes
  • Institutional case studies 6 institutions.

Much of the work is to be carried out by Hilary Footitt of UCML but the project is being managed by the Subject Centre. The completed report on the findings of the project should be available in November 2004.



We are still working to develop further the content of the Materials Bank and the Good Practice Guide. The GPG is a much visited part of our website and those who refer to it when writing articles on teaching and learning themes find it very useful. However there are still a number of themes which need to be covered and we are keen to promote this and the Materials Bank so that they are more widely used.


We have produced three editions of Liaison this year.

Other activities

Partnerships with CILT Cymru and Scottish CILT

Mike Kelly and I attended a very successful policy event at Stirling on 18th March. Dick Johnstone had managed to secure some high profile speakers and those who attended were very positive about the day.

We have established a partnership with CILT Cymru following the model of our partnership with Scottish CILT. We will be holding the first meeting of an Advisory Group for Wales in early July. At this meeting we will hope to scope ideas for activity in the coming academic year.

Rationales for studying languages

Angela Gallagher-Brett has done a lot of work on this over the year. Through an extensive literature search, questionnaires and focus groups she has gathered personal' and social' reasons for studying languages. These will be made available in a variety of ways: some of the rationales will be incorporated into a poster designed to attract the attention of school pupils. A full taxonomy of rationales will be placed on the website and Angela will produce a document explaining the process for gathering the rationales. These will be available in Autumn 2004.

FDTL5 Celtic Studies

Of the three bids submitted to HEFCE, the one written by staff at St Mary's College Twickenham was invited to place a stage 2 bid. We have yet to hear the outcome.

Supporting New Academic Staff (SNAS)

This is a project led by the Generic Centre and involves developing a database of resources which will be useful for new academic staff. Dawn Ebbrell is populating the database on behalf of our subject areas.

Looking ahead

We are starting to put together our programme of activity for next year. We will continue to organise a full programme of workshops. This will include a one day conference on issues of strategy and policy which will be of particular interest to Heads of Department. This is likely to be in the Spring of 2005. There will also be events on globalisation and interdisciplinary learning, teaching linguistics and literature and a workshop looking at issues of copyright.

We would like to run a sponsored lecture series next year. Institutions wishing to invite a speaker to give a lecture on a teaching and learning theme may be eligible for a bursary of up to £200 to cover the cost of a speakers fee and expenses. This lecture would then be open to staff in HEIs across the country.

We are also planning to compile online toolkits' on themes such as assessment. These might be used by departments in house for staff development. The toolkits would comprise GPG articles, weblinks, case studies, reports and materials drawn mainly from our website.