New Year, New OERs

A few interesting open educational resources to kick off the New Year….

1. OpenLives inspires Spanish singer/song writer – Lovely blog post on how the OpenLives project has inspired the singer, Clara Sanabras to write stories of Spanish exile.

2. Street Art in Brazil – Wonderfully imaginative examples of street art in Brazil posted by Margaret Clarke in Humbox.

3. Quantitative Methods in Linguistics – Helpful worksheets for teaching undergraduates in this tricky area posted by David Pollard also in Humbox.

4. How to create a Prezi – Detailed guide on preparing a Prezi presentation from Ester Ehiyazaryan-White on Jorum.






Researching ab-initio language learning: an update on useful sources

Ab-initio language learning is widespread in UK universities and is offered in a broad range of languages, including those languages which are available in school, such as French, German and Spanish. This is an update on my earlier post on 10 useful sources for researching ab-initio language learning at university.

Two papers from LLAS Language Futures: Languages in Higher Education Conference 2012 held at the University of Edinburgh in July 2012 are available on the conference web pages and represent new areas in ab-initio language learning research:

  • A case study: writing a Spanish dictionary as a collaborative task among beginner students (Nuria Lopez, Newcastle University)
  • Working towards theory: the accelerated ab-initio language learning experiences in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Southampton (Julia Kelly, University of Southampton)


Diary of a language learner: term 1

Having not learnt Spanish since I was at school, I signed up for an evening class at my local university (not the university where I work) this term. Initially I went along to an open evening to have a look at the Spanish courses on offer and to have a chat with the tutors about which level I could start at. I was persuaded that I should go into an intermediate class on the basis of my previous knowledge and because I am a linguist. Although I followed this advice, it sounded quite advanced to me and so, it was with some trepidation that I set off for my first lesson back in October. I needn’t have worried. My fellow learners are a combination of students who were in a pre-intermediate class last year and people like me who did GCSE or O-level Spanish at school and have not done anything since.

Despite having spent my working life in a languages environment, I had almost forgotten just how enjoyable and exciting learning a language is. I am loving it. The class is really relaxed and friendly (the teacher has definitely got something to do with that) and I can see that I am making progress. The level of the work is challenging but manageable. It’s a communicative approach so we’re doing quite a lot of speaking and listening in class and then we get reading and writing for homework. I have to admit that I am somewhat lacking in vocabulary and recognise the need to find time to work on this at home. I’ve bought myself one of those parallel text short story readers and am trying to read a small amount most days. The grammar is much easier – I seem to be picking that up quickly, partly by relying on my knowledge of French grammar, which is really satisfying.

It is all so much fun and I’m really keen to improve. I’ll be going to Spain soon and can’t wait to put what I’ve been learning into practice.

My links of the week

Boys’ reading skills must be tackled – Hannah Richardson, BBC –

We are failing too many boys in the enjoyment of reading – Michael Morpurgo –

Activities to introduce the life and work of the Mexican painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo – Nuria Lopez –