Clodagh Cooney, the Language Futures and Click, Connect, Learn project manager and former languages teacher writes about the value of combining volunteer mentors and digital resources.
Since 2013, Nesta and the Cabinet Office have been working together to increase the availability of volunteer-led tutoring within schools in order to improve the educational attainment of disadvantaged pupils. To this end, the Click, Connect, Learn fund was launched in order to explore how digital technology could work to make volunteer tutoring more accessible.
Language Futures is one of three organisations to receive funding to model, implement and evaluate work in this area. Language Futures combines digital resources and language-proficient mentor volunteers with project-based learning, peer collaboration and teachers’ expertise. The approach supports students to choose their own language, so that in one classroom several languages might be being learnt. This means students can learn a language that is relevant or meaningful to them.
Students speak very highly of the positive impact of volunteer mentoring. However, there can be some geography-based barriers to mentoring: finding mentors for all requested languages, consistent mentor attendance, and travel arrangements. Therefore, a key objective of the Click, Connect, Learn funding is to explore recruiting mentors who can deliver sessions online. Currently, we are trialling online mentoring in seven schools in order to offer more students their own choice of language, giving them a better educational experience. Funding will support training for schools involved as well as for the mentor volunteers involved in online tutoring.
The Language Futures – Click, Connect, Learn approach encourages students to work together and share their learning, both in and outside the classroom. CCL also allows students to learn at their own pace and the skills and attributes the approach provides will be beneficial for students preparing for GCSEs.
Whole Education’s partner MAT Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust is using CCL to transform pupils’ engagement with language learning in a number of its schools. Margaret Stewart, a languages teacher and CMAT’s lead for the CCL project, says “I am delighted that Swavesey Village College has moved language learning into the digital age and fully embraced the new CCL project which has been launched across CMAT this year. Sixteen of our pupils are currently using CCL to learn French, Italian, Spanish, German and Chinese. We will be building on the great work done by our volunteer community of mentors, who have personalised learning for our students and encouraged peer collaboration in lessons.”
The Language Futures approach is led by the Association for Language Learning in partnership with Whole Education and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The Click, Connect, Learn project is led by Whole Education in partnership with the Association for Language Learning and funded by Nesta.
For more information about the Click, Connect, Learn project, or for general information on the Language Futures approach and how your school can become involved, please contact the Language Futures Project Manager, Clodagh Cooney, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also get in touch if you are interested in becoming an online language volunteer mentor as we are now recruiting across a range of languages.
Happy #VolunteersWeek! Language Futures – Click, Connect, Learn would like to say a big thank you to all our fantastic volunteers helping to support over 20 languages in schools. Would you like to join us? https://t.co/50LtTIaPL1 @ALL4language @WholeEducation @NCVOvolunteers
— Language Futures (@LanguageFutures) June 1, 2018
Click, Connect, Learn is one of the projects Whole Education is involved in as part of our mission to make learning more ‘real, relevant and engaging’ and support pupils to take ownership of their own learning.