Language Futures

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The Language Futures Approach

Language Futures is an exciting initiative which enables ALL to build on its firm foundations of fostering peer-to-peer support, developing and sharing resources and building local and regional professional networks for teachers of languages. It also supports some of the key aims of ALL around advancing understanding of language learning and the techniques and approaches for successful language teaching as well as promoting linguistic diversity and broadening language provision. The approach originated as part of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Special Initiative, ‘Learning Futures,’ developed in partnership with the Innovation Unit. It was developed by Linton Village College in Cambridgeshire as a prototype for a very different model of language learning.

About the approach

The Language Futures approach is not designed to ‘teach’ a language, but to equip students to be autonomous and informed language learners, supported by a school, home and the wider community. Students’ learning is enabled through online learning, family support and mentoring with a foundation in project-based learning. Learners identify their own learning needs, with support, and engage in problem solving and research as well as with a variety of resources to support their own learning. Motivation and engagement are key to the approach with learners not only choosing the language they wish to learn, but also exercising choice in elements of what and how to learn. The class teacher acts as a facilitator of language learning rather than a teacher of a specific language by creating the conditions for students to manage their own learning processes and supporting them to learn collaboratively with their peers.

About the new project:

In summer 2015, the Language Futures initiative was transferred to the Association for Language Learning, with legacy grant funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for the next two academic years. ALL has made a commitment, alongside partners Whole Education and the British Council, to oversee the development of the Language Futures Programme, and to:

  • support schools who are already using or wishing to adopt Language Futures as an approach to language learning;
  • support schools wishing to pursue Language Futures as an after school model;
  • develop resources, case studies and best practice guidance;
  • develop an online teachers’ forum for discussion and sharing ideas about the Language Futures approach; and
  • foster links with partner schools overseas

A rigorous research exercise will also explore and evaluate the impact of the Language Futures approach on learners, teachers, and the wider school community, particularly parents and mentors. Research focusing on learners will explore their learning outcomes, evaluating linguistic competence, progression, motivation and engagement, and autonomy.

Research focusing on teachers will explore the role of teacher-facilitator and research on the wider school community will examine the effects of the Language Futures approach on perceived home-school relationships, as well as on mentors.

About the team:

ALL will work with project partners, the British Council and Whole Education, and the initiative will be overseen by ALL’s Director, Rachel Middleton, with three new consultants contracted to work in the following ways:

Project Manager, Clodagh Cooney: will take day to day management responsibility for the Language Futures initiative.
Schools Adviser, Ann Swarbrick: will advise and support in the development of this innovative and highly engaging way of learning languages in school settings, particularly with schools wishing to pursue Language Futures as an extra-curricular club.
Education Researcher, Rachel Hawkes: will explore and evaluate the impact of the Language Futures approach on learners, teachers, and the wider school community, particularly parents and mentors.

About our resources:

Over the last few years, a wide range of resources have been developed by schools previously and currently involved in Language Futures, in collaboration with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Materials include classroom resources as well as ideas for projects and skills development. Further resources will be added as the project develops, including materials to support project-based learning, language learning strategies and materials for building schools’ capacity to implement a Language Futures programme.

About getting involved:

ALL is committed to fostering a collaborative and supportive network of teachers, parents, mentors and language champions who are embedding the Language Futures approach in their schools, broadening language provision and developing autonomous language learners. The approach can be developed as an in-curriculum model as well as an after school club as a way of offering a second or even third language.

Therefore, if you are aware of any schools that could be approached in order to develop the Language Futures approach, please do contact Clodagh Cooney, Language Futures Project Manager at, visit or follow us on