Duolingo Rolls Out New Language-Learning Podcast

8 December 2017 (Language Magazine)

The language-learning app, Duolingo has decided to add NPR style podcasts to their arsenal of tools to get people speaking. 

The company, which is typically known for gamifying language in their app, has launched Duolingo Spanish Podcast, aimed at English speakers who are seeking to learn Spanish. The first podcast is available here and is about reporter Rodrigo Soberanes meeting his childhood soccer hero. Soberanes is a seasoned journalist, and his and host Martina Castro’s banter is not only easy to understand for intermediate Spanish speakers, but is also interesting and engaging.


Google’s translation headphones: you can order a meal but they won’t help you understand the culture

28 November 2017 (The Conversation)

Language learning will be vital for the future of the UK economy in a post Brexit world. This is in part why employers are desperately looking for graduates with language skills – and, more importantly, intercultural awareness and empathy.

According to a CBI Pearson Education Survey 58% of employers are dissatisfied with school leavers’ language skills. The survey also found that 55% of employers would like to see improvements in students’ intercultural awareness.

Similarly, the British Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Survey of International Trade states that a large majority of non-exporters cite language and cultural factors as barriers to success.


Could instant translation technology revolutionise world HE?

17 October 2017 (THE)

Language is often cited as one of the main obstacles to universities’ internationalisation efforts, blamed for everything from the low number of UK students studying abroad to Japan’s lagging behind on numbers of foreign academics and internationally co-authored publications.

So could new technology allow students and academics to transcend language barriers – and therefore transform international higher education?

Earlier this month Google launched Pixel Buds – a new set of wireless earbud headphones that deliver real-time translation between 40 different languages using Google Translate on a Pixel smartphone.

Bragi’s Dash Pro earbuds deliver the same feature using the iTranslate app on an iPhone.

Colin Mitchell, learning technologist at Leeds Beckett University, said that the technology has the potential to benefit scholars and students.


Google's new headphones translate foreign languages in real time

5 October 2017 (The Independent)

Google has built a pair of headphones that can translate foreign languages in real time.

The Pixel Buds are like a real-world equivalent of the Babel fish, the famous fictional creature from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

They both translate and enable you to speak in foreign languages, and worked incredibly impressively in a demo at Google’s launch event this week, enabling an English speaker to hold a smooth conversation with a Swedish speaker.


The e-Sgoil is ‘a reason to come back to teaching’

15 September 2017 (TESS)

A project that allows lessons to be beamed into Scottish classrooms has been described as “one of the best things” happening in Scottish education by a former education director who has conducted an independent review of the scheme.

The e-Sgoil – or e-school – based in the Western Isles became a reality at the beginning of 2016-17 to help tackle the teacher shortage, particularly in Gaelic, and to give secondary pupils in remote and rural schools a wider range of subjects.

Access the full article in TESS online, 15 September 2017 (subscription may be required).


Languagenut and SCILT exclusive

15 September 2017 (Languagenut)

Languagenut is a professional teaching tool that offers teaching resources across 21 modern foreign languages. 

It is the perfect tool to support the 1+2 approach to language learning, as all audio files are recorded by native speakers. With a range of games, songs and stories, Languagenut supports the four key skills of language learning: listening, speaking, reading and writing. 

In addition, Languagenut offers special integrated tools which allow teachers both create their own classes and content, and also set and track homework, generate certificates and evaluate students’ progress in real time. These timesaving tools help teachers to deliver more personalised teaching and customise lessons to fit each individual.

Accessible at school and at home, Languagenut helps to bridge the gap between classroom and home learning.

We’ve collaborated with SCILT to give Scottish schools free exclusive access to Languagenut for 45 days! Visit the website to register.


New earpiece translates foreign languages as you have a conversation

20 June 2017 (The Independent)

A new device that delivers foreign language translations directly to your ear almost instantly has just gone on sale.

The Translate One2One has been hailed as a real-world equivalent of the Babel fish, the famous fictional creature from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

It’s powered by IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, and takes between three and five seconds to complete a translation and play it to you.

It currently works across English, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, German and Chinese.

However, both people in a conversation need to be wearing one.

Lingmo International, the company behind it, claims the Translate One2One is clever enough to avoid common translation stumbling blocks.



15 June 2017 (EVALUATE Project)

EVALUATE is a European Policy Experiment project funded by Erasmus+ Key Action 3.

This experimentation will evaluate the impact of telecollaborative learning on student-teachers involved in Initial Teacher Education in the participating European countries and regions. Telecollaboration, also commonly known as Virtual Exchange, involves engaging trainee teachers involved in Initial Teacher Education in task-based interaction and collaborative exchange with fellow trainees in other locations through online communication technologies.

The guiding research question for the study is: “Will participation in telecollaborative exchange contribute to the development of competences which future teachers need to teach, collaborate and innovate effectively in a digitalised and cosmopolitan world?”

A teacher-training event is due to be held in Italy 5-7 July 2017.

Visit the website for more information about the project and how to get involved.


Super-Brainy Translation Tools Mean Language Barriers Are Falling Fast

6 June 2017 (NBC)

Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, the dream of speaking to anyone regardless of language is closer to reality than ever.

Scientists say there are more than 6,900 languages in the world, and anyone who’s traveled abroad knows how hard it can be to get even simple points across in a foreign tongue.

Breaking down language barriers has long been a dream of science fiction — “Star Trek” had its Universal Translator to help the Enterprise crew understand exotic alien speech, and C3PO from “Star Wars” knew more than 6 million forms of communication from across the galaxy.

Now, thanks to advances in real-time translation software, the dream of speaking to anyone regardless of language is closer to reality than ever. Experts say human translators won’t be out of work anytime soon — they’re vital for legal proceedings, diplomatic discussions, and scenarios when exact word choice and tone are necessary — but new inexpensive digital tools allow people to speak easily in situations where communication once seemed impossible.

With software from the Austrian-based tech company iTranslate and a compatible set of wireless earphones, you can now have nearly 40 languages translated directly into your ear. But the tool doesn’t help users understand everything they’d hear on a crowded street yet. Currently, it’s focused on letting people speak with someone else using connected smartphones tethered to iTranslate-enabled earphones. It can facilitate basic transactions and everyday small talk between people who until recently couldn’t exchange a word.


Not speaking another language stops almost five MILLION adults from going abroad

2 June 2017 (Daily Express)

Almost two thirds of Britons admit that they wish they were better at languages as it would allow them to become more deeply immersed in other cultures.

An international study from booking site Hostelworld, questioned more than 8,000 people in six countries about how their language skills impact on travel plans.

The research reveals that one in 10 UK adults (10 per cent) - the equivalent of 4.7 million adults - are put-off traveling because of language barriers, which particularly affects the younger generation (18-24s) where it rises to 15 per cent.


Robot priest unveiled in Germany to mark 500 years since Reformation

30 May 2017 (The Guardian)

Five hundred years after revolutionary printing presses spread news of Martin Luther’s radical call for church reform across Europe, technology is again challenging religious tradition in the small German town of Wittenberg.

A robot priest that delivers blessings in five languages and beams light from its hands has been unveiled as part of an exhibition to mark the anniversary of the start of the Reformation, a Europe-wide religious, political and cultural upheaval sparked when Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in the town.

Half a millennium later, the robot, called BlessU-2, is intended to trigger debate about the future of the church and the potential of artificial intelligence.

The item includes a short video demonstration in German.


National Digital Learning Week 2017

9 May 2017 (Digilearn)

National Digital Learning Week takes place from 15-19 May 2017.

This year the theme of the week is ‘Digital Difference’ and throughout the week you’re invited to share and celebrate the digital approaches which make a positive impact on your classroom practice.

Why not use this opportunity to share any digital approaches you have to language teaching and learning in your classroom?

Visit the website to find out more about how you can participate and be inspired.


From busuu to Babble, language-learning startups adapt to thrive

7 March 2017 (The Guardian)

Language learning is big business. Each year, students coming to study English in the UK contribute £2bn to the economy. It’s also a market suited to the flexibility of mobile learning and, sure enough, language learning apps are seeking to fill the gaps – more than 350 are listed on the Apple App Store alone.

But language tech isn’t an easy space in which to succeed. Rapid changes in technology have meant that its startups have had to adapt to survive, as Bernhard Niesner, co-founder of busuu, can attest.

Originally from Austria, Niesner had always loved languages: he learned Spanish and travelled in Latin America before undertaking an MBA at the IE Business School in Madrid. There he met Adrian Hilti, originally from Switzerland. It was 2008, Facebook was expanding rapidly, and the two wondered if they could combine technology and learning a language with social media.

So busuu, named after a Cameroonian language, was born, teaching users with interactive courses coupled with a social network of native speakers.


How to learn a language this year: ‘Will a virtual teacher work for me?'

7 January 2017 (The Guardian)

Italian, for me, has always been the one that got away. At school, French and Latin came easily, but for some reason I chose German as my third language. After getting into university to study French and Italian, I decided I’d rather lie around reading novels for three years and switched to English. In my 20s, I signed up for an evening class, but it was full and I was bumped into Spanish. Though it’s far more useful – the second-most widely spoken language in the world – Spanish just wasn’t the same.


Google's AI just created its own universal 'language'

23 November 2016 (Wired)

Google has previously taught its artificial intelligence to play games, and it's even capable of creating its own encryption. Now, its language translation tool has used machine learning to create a 'language' all of its own.

In September, the search giant turned on its Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) system to help it automatically improve how it translates languages. The machine learning system analyses and makes sense of languages by looking at entire sentences – rather than individual phrases or words.

Following several months of testing, the researchers behind the AI have seen it be able to blindly translate languages even if it's never studied one of the languages involved in the translation. "An example of this would be translations between Korean and Japanese where Korean⇄Japanese examples were not shown to the system," the Mike Schuster, from Google Brain wrote in a blogpost.

The team said the system was able to make "reasonable" translations of the languages it had not been taught to translate. In one instance, a research paper published alongside the blog, says the AI was taught Portuguese→English and English→Spanish. It was then able to make translations between Portuguese→Spanish.


Digital Days competition for schools

21 October 2016 (Goethe-Institut)

The Goethe-Institut London invites German teachers and their pupils to take part in this competition series requiring language and computer skills alike! The topic this year is Digital D.

Several categories for different levels of language skills are provided. Primary teachers and secondary teachers can choose which competition they think suits their students’ best.

To take part in the competition, visit the website and submit the registration form by 10 November 2016.


Concours de la francophonie 2017

21 October 2016 (Institut français)

The Institut français d'Écosse is pleased to announce the launch of the second edition of our new Concours de la francophonie to encourage all young French learners and their teachers across Scotland.

The competition is open to primary and secondary pupils and involves producing a short video in French which should be submitted by 14 December 2016.

See the attached flyer for more information about the competition and how to take part. You can also see pictures from the first edition competition on the Institut français website.


Related Files

Our Europe - film competition for schools

12 October 2016 (SEET)

Our Europe 2016-17 is now open for registration!

The film-making competition for S3-S6 pupils is an annual competition run by the Scottish European Educational Trust. Teams of 4 design a storyboard outlining the film they propose to make based on the competition theme. This year the topic is global citizenship, specifically addressing one of the following themes:

  • Travel and Leisure
  • Migration and welcome
  • Trade

As always, films must include the use of at least one language other than English. This year any and all languages will be accepted in entries. All teams have to do is put their ideas into a storyboard and send them to SEET by 8 December 2016.

For more information, visit SEET's Our Europe competition website.


Final LangOER Conference: “Open Education: promoting diversity for European Languages”

12 October 2016 (ECML)

The conference, held in Brussels on 26-27 September 2016, was an initiative of the European funded network LangOER, and was co-organised with the Educational Repositories Network – EdReNe. The event brought together experts in open education and digital content repositories, educational researchers and policy makers concerned with language education, pedagogical use of ICT, and social integration and inclusion.

Presentations and livestreams from the conference are now available online.


Can Duolingo's chatbot teach you a foreign language?

7 October 2016 (The Guardian)

Chatbots suck. We all know it. If you want to get something done with a computer, it turns out, there are better ways to do it than laboriously type out conversational sentences to be read by a programme with a shaky grasp of the language and a gratingly affected sense of humour.

So I’m as surprised as anyone that for the past week, I’ve started every morning with a 10 minute conversation with a chatbot. In French.

The bot is the creation of Pittsburgh-based language-learning startup Duolingo, and it’s the first major change for the company’s app since it launched four years ago. In that time, the service has gained 150 million users, and stuck stubbornly to the top of the educational app charts on every platform it’s available on.

If you haven’t used Duolingo, the premise is simple: five to 20 minutes of interactive training a day is enough to learn a language.


Wife cake and evil water: The perils of auto-translation

28 June 2016 (BBC News)

Imagine a far flung land where you can catch a ride from the Jackie Chan bus stop to a restaurant called Translate Server Error, and enjoy a hearty feast of children sandwiches and wife cake all washed down with some evil water.

If such a rich lunch gets stuck in your gnashers, you'll be pleased to know there are plenty of Methodists on hand to remove your teeth.

And if by this point you've had enough of the bus, fly home in style on a wide-boiled aircraft. But whatever you do, please remember that when you land at the airport, eating the carpet is strictly prohibited.

No, I haven't gone mad. These are all real-world examples of howlers by auto-translation software.

Joking aside, poor translations can have big implications for firms who run the risk of offending customers and losing business, or at least looking very amateurish.


Scientists create 'app' that teaches computers to understand Gaelic

25 June 2016 (The Herald)

Scots scientists have create an app-style programme that teaches computers to understand Gaelic.

It is hoped the move will help to secure the future of the language has been announced.

The device helps computers understand Gaelic text and can be used in a range of functions such as voice recognition and online translation, as well as grammar and spell checks.


Related Links

New app teaches computers to ‘speak’ Scots Gaelic (The Scotsman, 25 June 2016)

Statistics and nuance – the new secrets behind learning a foreign language

21 June 2016 (European Commission)

Software that uses statistics to adapt to your learning style and greater insight into how the brain processes ambiguity and nuance are helping scientists design new ways to learn a foreign language.

Dr Mait Müntel, CEO and co-founder of EU-backed start-up Lingvist, is an unlikely language-learning entrepreneur. He was working as a physicist at the CERN lab in Switzerland, part of the team that discovered the Higgs boson, when he had the idea that he has developed into a growing business.


From autism to Chinese, a headset to help you with your language

4 May 2016 (New Scientist)

Learning a tonal language like Chinese is notoriously difficult – it’s easy to end up calling your mother a horse. But soon there could be a wearable headset that can help.

The system was created for people with autism who want help with social interactions, but it could be adapted to help with speech or anxiety problems – or even language learning, says LouAnne Boyd at the University of California at Irvine, part of the team that designed it.


The Language Magician - German for children

28 April 2016 (Goethe-Institut)

One of the main aims of this Erasmus+ project is to develop an assessment tool to be used in primary schools called THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN. The game will be fun for the children, build on their language and IT-skills and provide information on their progression. It will support teachers by giving them a tool to assess their pupils’ abilities using non-threatening testing methods and hopefully also increase the enjoyment of learning a foreign language at this age.

The project is still under development, but visit the Goethe-Institut website to find out more.


Robots teach Germany's refugees a foreign language

2 April 2016 (Deutsche-Welle)

Fancy learning a new language from a robot? As Europe struggles to integrate the largest influx of refugees since the end of WWII, scientists have designed a robot that can interact with children learning German.


Gaelic Virtual School for Scotland

18 March 2016 (Stornoway Gazette)

Bòrd na Gàidhlig today announced funding to support the creation of a Gaelic virtual school for Scotland, E-Sgoil.

The announcement was made by the Cathraiche of Bòrd na Gàidhlig at the National Gaelic Language Plan 2017-2022 Seminar in Edinburgh to open discussions on the creation of the 3rd National Plan for Gaelic.

E-Sgoil will look to design and develop an online learning environment that will provide connectivity initially, between all secondary schools throughout the Western Isles and beyond.

It will provide greater quality of subject access, vocational choices and learning opportunities across Gaelic medium secondary schools nationally.


New ECML projects

8 March 2016 (ECML)

2016 sees the start of two new projects run by the ECML. Follow the relevant links for more information.

  • 'Digital literacy for the teaching/ learning of languages' - started in January 2016 and will run until December 2018. In response to the shortage of teacher training opportunities in digital literacy across Europe, the project provides a basis for a teaching methodology which integrates digital technologies. This will be done through a range of online interactions for teachers, plus a critical use of digital tools and resources to develop language and intercultural skills.
  • 'Languages at the heart of learning' (2016-19) - along with a new 'Language for Work' project with the focus being on the professional development of practitioners involved in work‐related language learning for adult migrants including refugees and ethnic minorities, who are often facing language difficulties by the integration into the labour market. The project creates tools and resources to support teachers, teacher educators, providers and other actors in the field.

Find out more about the ECML and their range of activities on their website or via their most recent newsletter, the European Language Gazette 30 - February/March 2016..


Language barriers may be consigned to history by earpiece gadget

13 February 2016 (The Independent)

"Language barrier" may be a phrase lost in translation to the next generation.

By 2025, when someone speaks to you in a foreign language, an earpiece will be able instantly to translate their words into your native language, Hillary Clinton’s former innovation advisor Alec Ross has written in The Wall Street Journal.

[...] The earpieces won’t necessarily spell the end of foreign language learning, however.

“I can't imagine a time when we don't value the ability to communicate in languages other than our own”, Mr Ross told The Independent. “But I can't help but think that this will have some kind of impact for the future of foreign language learning. Exactly what, I don't know.”


The uTalk Challenge 2016: New Year, New Language

9 December 2015 (EuroTalk)

Take on the uTalk Challenge 2016 and learn a language for free this New Year!

All you need to do is sign up at, and on January 1st we’ll send you over a code to unlock the Essentials upgrade (worth £7.99) for your chosen language. Then it’s over to you…

Unfortunately the uTalk app is only available on iOS, but if you’re not an iOS-er and you’d like to take part, drop us an email to and we’ll see if we can work out an alternative for you.

For more information visit the Eurotalk website.


Task Based Language Teaching Survey

30 November 2015 (PETALL)

The SCILT e-bulletin of 12 November carried information about a project involving modern foreign languages and ICT. The University of the West of Scotland’s School of Education is involved in this innovative project which has the acronym PETALL (Pan European Task Activities for Language Learning. It is funded by the European Commission and involves 10 European Universities working jointly to create, trial and evaluate activities for modern foreign languages classrooms which are ‘task based’. Exactly what constitutes a ‘task based’ lesson or series of lessons is wide ranging. The key element, however, is that it should involve a language activity which is communicative, has a real-life connection and which has an end product or outcome.

By way of example, some of the tasks created by the consortium include tasks such as buying a house, making a documentary using Windows moviemaker or iMovie, planning a visit to a town abroad, poor party – rich party, presenting you town, webquests on energy issues, creating a wiki, creating animations using free software such as Voki or Go-animate, creating a Blog, using on-line dictionaries, uploading short videos to YouTube and so on.

Eventually all the tasks created by the project team will be freely available on the project website. For more information about the project visit the PETALL website.

The project team is conducting an international on-line survey on teachers’ awareness of a TBLT approach and invite all teachers involved in MFL to take part in a short survey. The survey takes no more than 10 minutes to complete. Your participation would be greatly appreciated.


PETALL Project

12 November 2015 (PETALL)

The Pan European Task-based Activities for Language Learning (PETALL) Project is funded as part of the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme.  It aims to help teachers teach young people how to communicate effectively in other languages through ICT by using task-based activities in the language classroom.

To learn more about the project and how you can get involved, see the attached leaflet or visit the PETALL Project website.


Related Files

Tech’s ability to close language gaps deserves cautious support

28 October 2015 (New Scientist)

Machine translation and apps that try to ease language-learning are flourishing. But whether tech will save or kill off endangered tongues is hard to foresee.


Language learning can be free, thanks to the Internet

28 October 2015 (Marquette Wire)

Over the summer I made it a goal to teach myself Portuguese. No classes, no academic books, no teachers. This was a journey, and at the end of it, I was adequately knowledgeable about the language. The best part? I never spent a dime.


Student's smart glove translates sign language into speech

1 October 2015 (ZDNet)

Student Hadeel Ayoub has invented a smart glove which converts sign language into text and speech.

Those with difficulties with spoken language or hearing can find communicating difficult. This problem may be intensified if others do not understand sign language, which replaces words with gestures. However, a student from Goldsmiths, University of London has decided to tackle the problem with a glove that converts these gestures into understandable text on a display or audible dialogue.


1+2 Factor

17 August 2015 (Glow Scotland)

The 1+2 Factor is a nationwide event taking place on 18 November 2015 in the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow where Scottish educational establishments are invited to share and showcase their work using digital technology to implement the 1+2 languages policy.

Visit the 1+2 Factor site on Glow to find out how your school can take part.  (Glow login required).


Google Translate's new sign-reading feature takes on La Bamba – video

6 August 2015 (The Guardian)

The team at Google headquarters in California tests Google Translate’s new ‘sign-reading’ feature and shows how it quickly translates La Bamba into 27 languages simply by having the camera pointed at printed text.


Scottish Equity Partners backs language app

9 July 2015 (The Herald)

Scottish Equity Partners has spearheaded a $22 million (£14.3m) investment round into Babbel, the language learning app.

The backing is aimed at maintaining growth of the company, which has been profitable since 2011, while allowing it to invest in new product development.

[..] Babbel, whose mobile app is seeing up to 200,000 downloads per day, allows users to learn 14 languages, available for display in seven languages.

The subscription-based app, whose courses are available for iOS, Android, desk top and Apple Watch devices, is aimed at people outside the formal education system.


East Ren plan to boost Gaelic language use

6 July 2015 (The Extra)

Residents in East Renfrewshire are being asked their views on a new draft Gaelic language plan.

The ERC plan is aimed at promoting and developing the use of the language, from encouraging communication with it to integrating it into day-to-day council business.

The council proposed making certain documents available in Gaelic, as well as having a Gaelic language section of its website.

The proposals are part of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 passed by Scottish Government, aiming to secure the language status as an official Scottish tongue.


Just how effective are language learning apps?

12 June 2015 (The Conversation)

Around 70 million people – including Bill Gates – have signed up for the language learning app Duolingo. The app has received plenty of media attention, and its creators claim that it can help anyone with a smart phone learn a new language.

The app is free, and promises all kinds of cutting edge features, such as adaptive algorithms to suit users’ learning speed, as well as gamification to boost motivation. They also claim that this app can provide members of poorer communities with access to language learning that would otherwise be denied them; a worthy aim indeed.


The digital language barrier: how does language shape your experience of the internet?

28 May 2015 (The Guardian)

Does the language you speak online matter? The ability to communicate freely and access information are all promises woven into the big sell of internet connection. But how different is your experience if your mother tongue, for example, is Zulu rather than English? Explore the relationship between languages and the internet in this online presentation.


Learn a language while you text

14 May 2015 (MIT News)

Graduate student's “WaitChatter” app teaches vocabulary during moments in between text and instant-message replies.

The average person spends 10 to 15 minutes a day waiting for texts and instant-message (IM) replies, according to an analysis by Carrie Cai, a PhD student at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL).

What if you could be more productive during those idle moments? Cai is on the case.
A CSAIL team led by Cai recently developed “WaitChatter,” a Google Chat extension that delivers foreign-language vocab quizzes right to your chatbox any time the system detects that you are waiting for an instant message.


Skype Translator now available for everyone, offering live translation in video chats

13 May 2015 (Belfast Telegraph)

Skype users can now have their conversations translated in real time. The Translator feature, which analyses voice and then sends it to another user during the conversation, was first rolled out in an early version in December to select users. But Microsoft has now removed the limits on the sign-up process, letting anyone with the right hardware join up.


The 1+2 Factor

7 May 2015 (Glow Cast)

Listen to Glow product owner Chrisse Lamont talking about the 1+2 Factor, a nationwide event for Scottish education establishments to share and showcase their work with 1+2 using digital technology.


Use of ICT in support of language teaching and learning

6 May 2015 (ECML)

Find out more about the ECML’s ICT-Rev initiative which aims to promote the benefits of ICT in language education, provide training and awareness raising workshops for teachers and develop a selection of freely available ICT tools and open education resources which support language teaching and learning.


MOOC: Games in schools (2nd round)

29 April 2015 (European Schoolnet Academy)

Primary and secondary teachers are welcome to join this exciting MOOC exploring the potential of games-based learning in schools. The course is being run jointly by European Schoolnet and ISFE (The Interactive Software Federation of Europe) and is entirely free. The course will examine the opportunities but also challenges offered by integrating games into our teaching and learning and will provide practical examples of gaming tools and activities to use in your daily teaching practice. We will be learning through a mix of video, interactive activities and discussions as well as sharing of resources.

The first question we will explore is, why use computer games in schools? We will then look at a range of games which do not necessarily have an educational purpose but can be used nicely for thematic learning on topics such as gravity, planets, construction, and many others. However, we will also explore games that have an explicit pedagogical focus and are designed to help students learn anything from Maths to Languages.

The course commences on 18 May 2015 and runs for 6 weeks. Visit the European Schoolnet Academy website for more information and to sign up.


1+2 Factor – first judge announced

27 April 2015 (Glow Connect)

The 1+2 Factor is open to all Scottish education establishments and the aim is to showcase the learning and teaching of languages in Scottish schools and encourage the use of digital technology. We are inviting individual classes, schools or clusters to use any of the tools within Glow to create a learning space which will help in the implementation of the 1+2 languages policy.

We are pleased to announce the first judge of the event. Jim Fanning is Head of Emerging Technologies in the Digital Teaching and Learning Team. The team work on a joint programme between Scottish Government and Education Scotland that supports the use of technology to enhance learning.


Working together for languages learning - The 1+2 Factor

27 March 2015 (Education Scotland/SCILT)

Children are growing up in a multilingual world and the ability to communicate effectively is crucial if they are to play their full part as global citizens.

To support the implementation of the 1+2 languages policy, we have organised a national initiative which will culminate in an event at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in September.

The 1+2 Factor is open to all Scottish education establishments and the aim is to showcase the learning and teaching of languages in Scottish schools and encourage the use of digital technology.

Find out more on Glow on the national 1+2 Factor site and 1+2 Factor blog.



16 March 2015 (Eurocall)

The latest edition of the European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning review is now available online.


Learning the Duolingo – how one app speaks volumes for language learning

8 March 2015 (The Guardian)

Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist, can lay claim to a lifetime of achievements, but confessed earlier this year that a foreign language was missing from his CV.

During an online chat, the former Microsoft chairman and world’s richest man said he feels 'pretty stupid' that learning a foreign language had eluded him.

In an attempt to tackle the problem, he rejected using some of his $79bn wealth to hire a private tutor. Instead he joined the 70 million people around the world who have logged on to Duolingo, the free online courses that aims to democratise the teaching of languages to anyone with a smartphone, tablet or laptop and an internet connection.


#DigiLearnScot - Have You Got the 1+2 Factor?

27 February 2015 (Education Scotland / SCILT)

Next week, as part of Digital Learning Week, sees the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning launch 1+2 Factor, an exciting new competition which aims to showcase the learning and teaching of languages in schools across Scotland. Individual classes, schools or clusters are invited to use any of the tools within Glow to create a learning space which will help with the implementation of 1 + 2.

On the 1+2 Factor site within GLOW you can find important dates, useful links and documents to help create your learning experiences.

Join us on Glow TV on Wednesday 4th March at 12:30 PM to find out how to get involved in this nationwide event for Scottish education establishments.  Register on the #DigiLearnScot - Have You Got the 1+2 Factor? webpage

So what are you waiting for? Create, Collaborate, Innovate.

Please note, Glow login required to access.


Skype and the teaching of languages! What are your thoughts?

20 February 2015 (Microsoft UK teachers blog)

With Skype with its real time translation feature (Skype users to get real-time language translating tool, BBC News, 16 December 2014)  and other software that offer translation into language and even Klingon. Is there a need to teach languages in schools?

Helene Fyffe, one of our ex-interns is looking into that very question through her dissertation. She would like to get your thoughts and ideas. Please take some time to complete her survey.


Related Links

Skype's real-time translator – the end of language learning? (British Council blog, 12 February 2015)

Top 10 podcasts to help you learn a language

9 February 2015 (The Guardian)

From videos in Japanese to news in German, language blogger Lindsay Dow recommends her favourite podcasts to keep you motivated and inspired while improving your skills.


10th LLAS elearning Symposium 2015

9 February 2015 (LLAS)

22-23rd January, saw the 10th LLAS elearning symposium taking place at the University of Southampton. Over two fantastic days, language teachers came together from across the UK and the world to share their experiences using technology in teaching and learning. There were inspiring and informative keynote talks from: Sara Pierson and Chris Cavey from the British Council, Marion Sadoux from the University of Nottingham, Ningbo, and Benoit Guilbaud, from the University of Manchester. You can watch their presentations again.

LLAS also had speakers talking about a range of topics from mobile learning, to Twitter for Italian, online interpreting, screencasting for pronunciation, open educational practice, e-portfolios, blended tandem learning, MOOCs and much more. LLAS recorded most of the sessions and you can see the recordings.

LLAS marked the occasion with the publication of a free, open access ebook, which is an edited collection of case studies and reflective pieces which showcase good practice in the use of technology for language teaching and learning. The book is an inspiring snapshot of good practice and contributions came from practitioners across the world, many of whom attended the symposium itself as speakers. Download the book.

German online group course

20 January 2015 (Goethe-Institut)

This online course suits those with busy schedules who want to learn German fast.  The course enables you to study an entire level in four months.

Offered at levels A1 and A2, the course starts on 2 March 2015.

See the Goethe-Institut website for more information and to enrol.


Open access case studies in good practice using technology in language teaching

LLAS (19 January 2015)

Open access case studies in good practice using technology in language teaching have been made available to mark 10 years of the LLAS elearning symposium.


Google Translate 'turns interpreter' with voice function

14 January 2015 (BBC News)

Google says its Translate app can now act as an interpreter, with the addition of a real-time voice-translation mode. It said the updated app would automatically recognise languages being spoken and translate them.

The update, launched on Wednesday, also allowed users to instantly translate messages using their phone's camera. But one academic said it would fail to understand the more complex linguistic tools.


Related Links

Google: 'Your phone can now speak 80 languages' (The Telegraph, 14 January 2015)

Support for putting Gaelic on Google translation service (Press & Journal, 15 January 2015)

How the Goethe-Institut uses digital technology to make learning German a virtual reality

13 January 2015 (The Herald)

The internet might have brought the English-speaking world closer together, but understanding another language can give you a valuable edge in an increasingly competitive world.

And the good news is that the internet has revolutionised language learning. It hasn't taken away the need to practise, but it has made much easier - and more interesting.

The Goethe-Institut has harnessed the power of online learning for its German courses. "It gives people the flexibility to learn whenever - and wherever - they have the time," says Sylvia Warnecke, the course director at the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow.


7 Outstanding Language-Learning Apps and Websites

7 January 2014 (The Huffington Post)

Speaking the local language - or at least knowing some basic phrases - is one of the best ways for travellers to tap into foreign cultures. In countries where English isn't widely spoken, it's essential to learn some key words and phrases, but even in places with an abundance of English speakers, you'll find that locals tend to respond better when spoken to in their native tongue.

[...]The next time you're planning an international trip, consider practising the local language with these 7 indispensable language-learning apps and websites.


Google urged to go Gaelic

23 December 2014 (The Courier)

Internet giants Google are being urged to add the Gaelic language to the database of its widely used online translation service.

It follows a successful campaign in New Zealand which resulted in the search engine service agreeing to include Maori to its translator app, despite a core number of just 30,000 speakers.

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser called on the Scottish Government and the taxpayer-funded Gaelic Board to work with Google to feature the centuries-old Celtic tongue alongside Welsh and Irish.


Instant translation – no longer sci-fi

19 December 2014 (BBC News)

The idea that you could speak into a device in one language and it would emerge in another has long been a sci-fi fantasy. But this week that kind of automated translation came a step closer to reality when Skype launched the beta version of its Translator service.


Hi-tech schools rescuing an ancient language

30 November 2014 (BBC)

Technology and education have a long, complicated and sometimes exaggerated relationship.

[...] So you might not expect to find tablet computers being deployed to defend a language first written down 1,700 years ago when "writing on a tablet" would have meant carving on a stone.

But in an innovative blend of ancient and modern, online technology is being used to keep alive teaching in the Irish language.


Competition for Secondary Pupils: Sport in meinem Leben

6 November 2014 (Goethe-Institut)

Let your pupils shoot a video about “Sport in meinem Leben“ and win a trip to Berlin or other cool prizes. Register and upload your video by 16 November 2014.

See the Goethe-Institut website for more information.


Skype’s real-time language translator needs testers

4 November 2014 (CBS News)

Skype gives its users a way to easily communicate between two countries. Its new feature, Skype Translator, could soon make it easy to communicate between two languages.

Microsoft announced Monday that Skype is accepting applications for a limited number of openings to preview, test and comment on the translation service, due later this year.

The translator is being developed by Skype and the engineers behind Microsoft's automatic translator, which is integrated into various Microsoft products, including Office, Internet Explorer and Bing.


Flexible Learning: German Online Group Course

7 October 2014 (Goethe-Institut)

This online course suits those with busy schedules who want to learn German fast. The course enables you to study an entire level in just 4 months, starting November 2014. On offer are levels A1 (A1.1 & A1.2) and A2 (A2.1 & A2.2).

The course will be fully online through use of tailor-made online materials. Please plan to spend about 7 study hours per week. There will be written interaction with your fellow students on a dedicated website, regular tutor support and virtual conferences for practising speaking with others.

More information about the course is available on the Goethe-Institut website.  Here you can also experience an online taster and enrol by 20 October 2014.


Tech is removing language barriers – but will jobs be lost in translation?

19 September 2014 (The Guardian)

Could Microsoft’s Star Trek-inspired translation service ever replace professional human translation?


Study: Swedish Boys Are Learning English From World of Warcraft

2 September 2014 (Slate)

Swedish children, especially boys, may be learning more English during a late-night Minecraft session than from struggling through hours of homework.

[..] As Sundqvist and Sylvén note in their study, many online games incorporate key principals of effective learning that make them highly useful for taking up a foreign language.


What keeps me awake at night?

29 August 2014 (TES)

Parlez-vous Français? Never mind, Skype does.

I have just seen my professional coffin. Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, will soon be launching a real-time translator that enables users to have a conversation with someone speaking a foreign language; their words are instantly understandable via the wonder of modern technology.
In the demonstration I watched, one person spoke German and the other English. There was only a short pause between sentences and, apparently, the translation was accurate.

Thus, my low spirits sunk to new depths. Being a modern foreign languages teacher these days is often soul-destroying, and we rely on the few students who show an interest to keep our spirits up.


Three ways to use iPads in the languages classroom

19 May 2014 (The Guardian)

'It is the ability to marry teacher and tech that makes the iPad so formidable.' Will Strange explains his innovative approach to teaching modern foreign languages.


Teaching languages with technology: tools that help students become fluent

13 May 2014 (The Guardian)

From Padlets to Popplets, languages consultant Joe Dale shares the tools modern foreign languages teachers are turning to in their classroom.


Is technology a silver bullet for language teaching and learning?

13 May 2014 (The Guardian)

Technology such as Twitter and videos does support language learning, but teachers will only see the benefits if it goes hand-in-hand with a change of pedagogy.


The key to successful language learning in schools? It's all about the culture

13 May 2014 (The Guardian)

Technology and software has enabled Harrogate Grammar School to integrate language learning in their school community – and achieve their best ever results.


Using Skype in the primary language classroom

12 May 2014 (eTwinning)

Diana Linford, French teacher at Eastburn Junior and Infant School and Steeton Primary School, not only gained a national Quality Label but scooped the ‘Creative Language Learning’ prize at the 2013 eTwinning Conference in the UK.

Her eTwinning project used Skype in the primary classroom to enable effective communications between pupils at Eastburn (near Keighley, Yorkshire) and l’Ecole de Vouillers (Champagne-Ardennes, France).

Diana Linford gives us her account of how she created such an innovative project with Magali Grapton from her French partner school.


German IT Competition: Digital Days - Reisefieber

29 April 2014 (Goethe-Institut)

The Goethe-Institut London invites German teachers and their pupils to take part in this unique competition series requiring language and computer skills alike! Fun and steep learning curves are guaranteed when you take on one of these tasks:

  • Watching a video animation clip to solve a German city puzzle
  • Doing a digital treasure hunt about Germany’s UNESCO sites
  • Taking part in a sports commentary reading competition by recording or filming your class/group (texts will be provided)
  • Completing your own German comic inventing a funny storyboard
  • Using your own creativity to write an e-postcard
  • Doing the sound recording for the Felix & Franzi-Reise animation clip and come up with creative German dialogues
  • Special: Finding German traces in your neighbourhood and present them

… and all you need is a computer.

Seven categories for different levels of language skills are provided. Primary teachers and secondary teachers can choose which competition they think suits their students’ best.

Please register by sending a registration form to by 20th May 2014 and you will be sent a USB-stick. All the categories are explained and the relevant materials are provided. The materials are also suitable for work offline.

Visit the Goethe-Institut London website for full details and the registration form.


I need a verb table, I can't learn Spanish with just a smartphone

12 April 2014 (The Guardian)

After a month of trying to learn Spanish with only a smartphone app, Alan Haburchak is crying out for some structure.


How ICT can connect children from around the world

8 April 2014 (British Council blog)

How can ICT help children learn about people from other cultures? Teacher Wilma Gordon has this week won an eTwinning European prize for an online school project which joined together primary school pupils from around Europe. Here, she explains the benefits of using ICT in the classroom and tells us about some useful tools.


Related Links

Do you believe in European Identity? They did (eTwinning, 9 April 2014) This Thursday (8th April 2014) students and teachers involved in eTwinning projects were in Palais des Academies where the award ceremony of 6 winning projects (out of 300) took place. See the full blog of the eTwinning Prize event, 2014, including the Special Project winners of the Mevlana Prize for Intercultural Understanding – Winner project: e-cultural Kaleidoscope, a collaboration involving Mid Calder Primary.

I need real people to help me learn a language

1 April 2014 (The Guardian)

A few weeks into his attempt at learning Spanish only with a smartphone, Alan Haburchak is beginning to doubt he will succeed with tech alone.


At risk of digital extinction: Europe's smaller languages fight to survive

26 March 2014 (The Guardian)

The internet and its technologies are eroding many languages, especially in the Baltic countries. What can be done about it?


If making embarrassing mistakes help you learn a language, I'm doing great

21 March 2014 (The Guardian)

After a fortnight's sulk, our writer is spurred into action when he watches an American actor being interviewed – in French. This article is written by Matt Hambly who is taking part in the Guardian’s online language learning challenge.


iPads, Language Learning and the #mfltwitterati with Joe Dale

20 March 2014 (Edtechteacher)

Webinar presented by Joe Dale on using technology in the language classroom.


Related Links

Developing French (Journey to Excellence, March 2014) Learn how one school makes the learning of a modern language come alive through the use of ICT and active learning.

Oxford MFL workshop: Joe Dale – Languages and new technologies

6 March 2014 (YouTube)

As part of a series of free workshops by Oxford University Press for MFL teachers, Joe Dale presented this session on Languages and new technologies.


Learning Russian via Skype is click easy ... as long as you keep still

4 March 2014 (The Guardian)

After trawling the online 'wanted' ads for a tutor to teach her Russian, Anna Parkin settled on Skype specialist Olga.


Will I be able to learn Spanish with just my smartphone?

22 February 2014 (Guardian)

A self-proclaimed tech lover uses just his smartphone to learn Spanish as part of the Guardian's online language learning challenge.


Can I successfully learn a language online?

21 February 2014 (The Guardian)

Technology has changed the way people learn and access education, particularly languages. But can you successfully master a language only using online tools?


Related Links

I'm learning French ... to be more like George Orwell (The Guardian, 21 February 2014) Inspired by his literary idol George Orwell, Esquire writer Matt Hambly will be learning French as part of the Guardian's online language learning challenge.

Our Europe 2014 – winning films now online!

20 February 2014 (Radio Lingua/SEET)

The winning films from this year’s Our Europe film competition for schools can now be viewed online.


Introduction to iPads in the primary language classroom

18 February 2014 (Lisibo)

See the presentation shared at the #ililc4 conference last week on using iPads in the primary language classroom.  The blog also includes links to further ideas and information including lists of useful apps.


Another year, another great e-learning symposium!

14 February 2014 (LLAS blog)

Well, it is February again and I’m basking in the memory of another excellent LLAS elearning symposium on 23/24 January… This year was our 9th and biggest yet, with speakers and attendees from around the globe delighting and inspiring us with stories of innovation in the use of technology in language teaching.

We kicked off on day one, with an entertaining and informative keynote presentation from Professor Jozef Colpaert (University of Antwerp) who proposed a theory of ‘educational engineering’ as an approach to understanding when, where and how to use technology in teaching.


Our Europe Film Competition Winners 2013-14!

6 February 2014 (SEET)

Congratulations to Lenzie Academy who triumphed at the final of the Our Europe Film Competition hosted by the Scottish European Educational Trust on Monday 3rd February.

Six teams of high school pupils (S3-S6) participated in the film-making workshop at SocietyM in Glasgow. With the assistance of technology expert, Mark Pentleton from Radio Lingua, the pupils worked hard throughout the day to turn their storyboard ideas into short films.

Download the attached flyer for details of all the finalists who took part or for more information about the competition visit the SEET website.


Related Files

The technologies that are shaking up education – in pictures

5 February 2014 (The Guardian)

Digital breakthroughs are changing the way we learn: our gallery picks out some winning ideas, from surgery augmented by Google Glass to cats teaching Spanish.


Duolingo: The future of language learning that puts a personal tutor in everyone's pocket

5 February 2014 (The Independent)

Seth Stevenson tries out the new app that everyone's talking about, which won't even cost you a penny – or a peso.


You BETT it's about collaboration

4 February 2014 (eTwinning blog)

Our British Council Ambassador, Andrée Jordan (International coordinator, Global Education Consultant), tells us all about her experiences of online collaboration.

Walking around the BETT show it seemed to me that the theme this year was collaboration. With Office 365, SharePoint and other collaborative programs on display, it does seem that someone is getting the message that we work best as collaborators and how better to collaborate than with other students around the world through the internet. Barriers are becoming removed, we no longer have to travel to experience life in other countries and language barriers can be overcome with increasingly sophisticated communication.

The article features ways in which technology is being used to help develop language skills through collaborating with pupils in other countries.


Learn a new language with TV and mobiles

28 January 2014 (The Portsmouth News)

Millions of Britons could improve their foreign language skills by watching TV and using their mobile phone.

The application, based on research by a computer scientist at the University of Portsmouth, is designed to encourage language learning while people are being entertained.

It works by providing an explanation, translation or context around difficult words, when watching programmes in a different language.


Google Translate: 10 reasons why it's no match for learning a language

8 October 2013 (The Guardian)

The number of British universities offering specialist modern-language courses is in sharp decline. Is it possible that this collapse might be partly down to the rise of free software such as Google Translate? After all, why waste several years of your life perfecting every last conversational nuance of a second language when you can listlessly prod "CAN I HAVE SOME CHIPS?" on to your phone and then wave a screen reading "POSSO TER UM POUCO CHIPS?" in the face of a disappointed Portuguese waiter?


‘Motivate the demotivated’

26 April 2013 (SCILT)

Looking for ways to inspire and motivate your language students? Using film in the classroom is a great way to combine interdisciplinary learning and generate enthusiasm amongst your pupils for language learning.  These projects were filmed in three different Scottish schools involving pupils from P7 to S6 who worked together to create their own animated movies using skills they developed in Modern Languages, Art and ICT. Have a look at these video clips to see what can be achieved and hear feedback from some of the pupils who took part.


Russian language second most popular on the internet

22 March 2013 (Moscow Times)

Russian became the second most frequently used language on the Internet in 2013, having passed Germany by a narrow margin, according to a report by analytical company W3 Techs. The company counted the number of sites in each language regardless of the number of hits the sites get, Vedomosti reported Friday.



The language of Twitter: the rise of MFL teachers online

7 February 2013 (The Guardian)

Since spotting Twitter's power for connecting subject specialists, Joe Dale has been an ambassador of social networking. Here, he describes Twitter's impact on the MFL teaching community.


Yu han competition

23 November 2012 (YCP)

Can you write a song or rap in Chinese?  Do you have the IT skills to make a video?  If so this is the competition for you.

To find out more and to register visit the website. 


Related Files

Call of Duty and World of Warcraft double as language class

20 November 2012 (The Toronto Star)

Mette-Ann Schepelern remembers when she first heard a curious sound coming from her son’s bedroom. Someone was speaking fluent English loudly, peppered with mysterious slang. To her surprise, it was her 9-year-old Danish son. Schepelern and her son Carl live in Copenhagen, where English lessons begin in the first grade. To become fluent, a child would need to practice several hours a day — which Carl did, but not in front of a textbook. Carl was playing World of Warcraft, a multiplayer online game with more than 10 million players and available in 11 languages, none of them Danish.


QR codes for language learning

7 November 2012 (eTwinning)

eTwinning Ambassador Joe Dale shares his fantastic ideas on using QR codes to improve students language skills in today's article 'Bringing Language Learning to Life: teaching tips, tech and ideas' on the Guardian Teacher Network.


Related Links

If you are a language teacher looking to reenergise your lessons and make language learning more meaningful to a 21st century learner check out the full range of innovative ideas on the Guardian Teacher Network.

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