Subject Centre Report 2004-5

Author: Liz Hudswell


This document serves to provide a brief update on the key areas of activity for the Subject Centre in 2004-5. 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 01/09/05 at which time all links were checked. However, we cannot guarantee that the links are still valid.

Table of contents

This report is not an exhaustive catalogue of our activity this academic year but provides some comment on the highlights.


A listing of past and forthcoming events is available on the events pages of our website

Events programme 2004 -2005

We have had a full events programme this year. More details about the events listed below are on our website

In addition to this, there have been Subject Centre sponsored lectures at Coventry University and the University of Leicester:

The Specialist Advisory Groups for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies all continue to meet. We are supporting a Linguistics strategy group and are members of the United Kingdom Council for Area Studies Associations (UKCASA).

700 Reasons for Studying Languages

The publication of '700 Reasons for studying languages' has aroused a great deal of attention this year and much praise:

'everyone here wants one (a report) and I know I could get rid of more on the black market! You are the victims of your success with everyone in languages wanting to spread the word that learning languages is both wonderful and useful'

'I'd like to say first, congratulations on the work done and on the accessible presentation of the results. It's so encouraging to read your positive conclusions'.

We have sent out over 2,000 copies of the report to our mailing list and and a further 1,000 copies in response to requests. There has also been significant interest overseas; we sent a box of the reports to an American modern languages association, for example. The report was advertised on websites used by teachers in the secondary and FE sectors and has generated a huge amount of interest in these communities. One teacher wrote to us saying that they were planning to discuss one reason a week with their students.

This interest from other sectors has encouraged us to engage in activity to promote cross-sector collaboration. We ran a hugely popular workshop presenting case studies on this theme in May. At the workshop, we issued a questionnaire asking for information about collaborative activity, barriers to collaboration and priorities. The responses have been collated and the questionnaire will be rolled out more widely so that a fuller picture of current activity can be gained.

As well as the printed report and the poster, we have established a searchable database of reasons.

Publication of the report has inevitably led to increased publicity for the Centre. Angela Gallagher Brett took part in a discussion on language learning on radio 5 live in November.

Other hard copy resources

We have produced a number of 'tangible deliverables' this year. As ever, these help to raise awareness of the Subject Centre as well as being informative documents in their own right.

  • 700 Reasons for studying languages
  • Report 'Collaboration in Strategic Subjects: the lesson of Modern Languages'
  • Handbook 'Opening the Door to Language Learning': bringing language learning to the wider community
  • 2 newsletters
  • LLAS Digest a collection of reports and articles reflecting our activity

Promoting languages

The Subject Centre team is working on two PowerPoint presentations, which aim to complement the work of the Languages Work project. One is directed at pupils aged 11-14 and aims to encourage them to continue studying languages beyond the age of 14. It will include quizzes and clips of interviews with students. The second presentation is intended for pupils aged 16+ and is intended to tell them about the various options for studying languages in Higher Education. Both these presentations should be completed by the summer.


The website continues to generate a huge amount of interest and positive comment:

'your website is excellent... it is extremely interesting and easy to follow, with a wide range of links, tips, information etc'

The website is well catalogued by Google especially the directory. This is the main route for accessing the site. Two years ago, the average number of new bookmarks to the site was 800 per month, a year ago this had risen to 1400 per month and currently it is 3300 per month.

It is interesting to note that a web developer from another Subject Centre commented on the structure and design.

'I am very impressed with it, particularly the Directory.'


The Subject Centre has been given additional funding from HEFCE to carry out a small project, which involves interviewing a number of graduates of our subject areas several years after they have graduated.

The project will explore whether the skills claimed by existing studies in this area have impacted upon graduates 5 and 10 years after graduation. It will produce an analytical report and a set of case studies which the Subject Centre and the academic community can use in a variety of contexts, including the marketing of Humanities degrees to prospective students, informing curriculum development and helping students to identify their own skills and attributes. This project is being carried out in collaboration with the English and History, Classics and Archaeology Subject Centres. The Research Assistant is currently making contact with potential interviewees but would be happy to hear from colleagues who think they could identify strong candidates to be interviewed who studied LWULT languages or area studies.

Research into attitudes to reading among undergraduates

Angela Gallagher-Brett is continuing to work on the research project looking at the attitudes of undergraduates to reading literature in a foreign language. We have designed a questionnaire to obtain qualitative and quantative data on prevailing attitudes among Modern Languages undergraduates to reading both in L1 and L2. This has been sent out to six institutions. We have received a high number of questionnaires which will be analysed over the summer.

Learning and Teaching Coordinators Focus Group

We have recently held a small meeting of colleagues who have this role within their department. The meeting focussed mainly on Personal Development Plans and the role of Key Skills in degree programmes in our subject areas. We will hold an event in November to explore this further.

Project funding

We have this year distributed mini project funding for six pedagogic research projects and projects to develop resources for our materials bank. We have also allocated funding for colleagues at University College Northampton and Sheffield Hallam University to develop materials that they have been cascaded at workshops in May and June. The materials will be made available on the Subject Centre website.

Collaboration Programme in Modern Languages in Higher Education

The report on the lessons learned from this programme was launched at an event at the British Academy on 11 March 2005. Copies of the report are available if you have not received one already. A report on the programme was published in the most recent HEFCE bulletin.

The Collaboration Programme Steering Group which includes a number of representatives from the UCML executive met for the last time at the end of June. It made a number of recommendations to the HEFCE and the Subject Centre which are being presented at this meeting.

DfES funded project the National Languages Strategy in Higher Education

As many of you will know, the report is now available online ( or copies can be ordered from the DfES. The Subject Centre in partnership with CILT and UCML put forward a project proposal to the DfES which included a number of sub projects to implement the recommendations in the report. We have yet to hear which of the sub-projects will be funded. We also put in a bid to HEFCE for a number of pilot cross-sector collaboration projects and have recently learned that HEFCE are not able to fund this at present.

Education for Sustainable development

The Subject Centre has received a small amount of funding to carry out a focus group looking at how issues of sustainable development should be taught in our subject areas.

Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs)

This large HEFCE funded initiative has awarded funding for 74 Centres many of which are generic in focus. SOAS, in partnership with UCL, has received funding for a Centre entitled 'Languages of the Wider World' ( which will focus on the less widely taught languages. The Subject Centre will be working with this CETL to disseminate its work more widely and will also establish partnerships with a CETL based at Sheffield Hallam looking at employability across a number of subject areas. The Northern Ireland Funding Council has funded a similar initiative. The Department of Languages at the University of Ulster has received funding for a centre looking at digital resources. In addition to this, we have made contacts with all CETLS inviting them to join an LLAS CETL Advisory Board if their activity includes work in our subject areas. The Subject Centre will work with the CETLs to disseminate their work more widely and will also use their expertise to convene more Special Interest Groups.

LLAS Digest

We have produced a digest of reports and articles on themes that have concerned us over the past year. This includes the themes reported above as well as pedagogical research, the RAE, interdisciplinarity and e learning.

Cross sector collaboration

The publication of the 700 Reasons report generated a lot of interest from teachers in the secondary sector and FE as it was publicised on the CILT and ALL websites. This led to the development of a number of good links with particular schools. We have also been invited to join a curriculum development group in Hampshire which is led by one of the Specialist Language Colleges.

We held an event on 6 May on cross-sector collaboration including presentations from a number of schools. At the end of the event we carried out a survey of initiatives and what colleagues felt the barriers to collaboration were.

The results of the survey will be systematically collated and publicised (without naming specific institutions). In addition to this, the Subject Centre plans to extend its survey of outreach activities so that a more detailed (if not exhaustive) mapping can be produced. We hope that this can be linked to more detailed case studies of some initiatives.

We are setting up a Jiscmail list to encourage colleagues to share practice in cross-sector collaboration. When this has been established, we will announce it in our e bulletin.

The Subject Centre has made a number of presentations at events to advertise its promotional material and to encourage schools to make contact with their local university. We will be making a presentation for parents and pupils at the London Language show.

Forthcoming events

This is not an exhaustive list of our workshops and conferences but a selection of those taking place this calendar year.

Policy events

We have a couple of events which are aimed particularly at heads of department/deans of faculty. If you think that your head of school is not on the Subject Centre mailing list, please contact me ( )


If you would like to know more about our work or the activities described here, go to our homepage or email the Subject Centre ( )