Skip to main content


The new Routes into Languages website is currently in development and will be launching in the new year!


Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

West Midlands

Languages are for life, not just for holidays

West Midlands

In the week beginning 20 September 2010 the Association for Language Learning carried out a wide-ranging consultation exercise with its members, inviting their thoughts on the current state of language teaching in the UK, on government policy for languages and its implementation in schools and other educational institutions, and on the public perception of language learning.


A summative report of the main points emerging from this exercise is now available here. It offers an up-to-the-minute snapshot of language learning and teaching in the UK as seen by professionals involved ‘on the ground’ and presents their positive suggestions about the way forward for better languages education in our country.


"We as a body of professionals need to get together and say what we believe are the most effective pedagogical approaches to language learning, reflect on […] our own practice and then tell the exam boards what and how they should be assessing. We are the people we have been waiting for"

(Head of Languages at a secondary school in the North East)


Free language tool available to teachers and learners

West Midlands

Thinking about how to access the all so important high frequency words? How to approach authentic texts and how to investigate key words in texts? Will pupils pick up different meanings of verbs in various contexts? What vocabulary to teach?


Now language teachers and learners of languages in schools in England can have a free access to WordSmith, a tool that helps you to work on these questions. It is useful for teachers in finding appropriate texts, and creating worksheets. Students can use it for simple research on for example the language of poetry or rap, contextualising vocabulary or identifying word or grammatical patterns. It supports independent learners, and is an excellent tool for discovering the KAL strand.


Oxford WordSmith Tools is an integrated suite of programs for looking at how words behave in texts. For example - the Wordlist tool lets you see a list of all the words or word-clusters in a text, set out in alphabetical or frequency order. The concordancer, Concord, gives you a chance to see any word or phrase in context -- so that you can see what sort of company it keeps. With KeyWords you can find the key words in a text.


The tools are used by Oxford University Press for their own lexicographic work in preparing dictionaries, by language teachers and students, and by researchers investigating language patterns in many languages and countries world-wide.


The creator, Mike Scott, currently works as a Reader in corpus linguistics at Aston University. He holds a PhD in Linguistics and Modern English language, and has a long career in teaching.


To find out more about WordSmith, click here or email us to get your free licence!

Big Questions Online ~ Translated into German!

West Midlands

Izzy Mohammed from the archives has posted a Big Question Online ~ Is diversity a threat or an opportunity? We are looking for young people to respond to what he has written.


The first person to respond is a student studying in Berlin! The original piece that Izzy wrote has also been translated into German and can be accessed online.


We are looking for teachers to use this as a stimulus for discussion with young people. It can certainly be used to start discussions around intercultural understanding. Could you make teachers aware of it please?


Go to: to have your say!

West Midlands triumph at 2010 LAFTAs

West Midlands

We are pleased to announce that the West Midlands entry "Olympic Qualifiers" won the LAFTA Award for the London 2012 category. The video clip was produced by students from Bishop Challoner Catholic College in Birmingham and was praised for demonstrating that being able to speak other languages will be crucial in a global sporting event such as the Olympics.


You can view this and all the winning clips here

Make your voice heard with The Wall of Language

West Midlands

The Wall of Language is a website which has been created by linguists trying to find a way of raising the prominence of languages and language learning. On the Wall of Language, you can email your new MPs your questions about languages and language policy, and then post their reply.


Nick Friend and Nick Mair created the website with support from the Association for Language Learning (ALL), CILT, the National Centre for Languages, and two commercial sponsors (Televic and Linguascope). They hope that it will become a focal point for linguists and an opportunity to see what prospective MPs feel about the importance of languages.


To help build the wall, go to:


Free foreign languages newspapers available!

West Midlands

Are you looking for ways to encourage your pupils to read more foreign language materials? Are you trying to find authentic resources without spending a fortune?


The School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University currently subscribes to major foreign language newspapers such as El Pais, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Le Monde which are made available for undergraduate students in the Learning Resource Centre. New editions of the newspapers are received regularly and only the latest editions stay in the Resource Centre with old ones stripped away fairly regularly and placed in recycling.


Many of us use online resources and of course all of the newspapers have websites, but some of you may find having the papers useful and so we can recycle them in a different way! You may wish to have them available for older or G+T students to take away, or read as and when they like, or they might be useful to use in class. Even for your younger students – to use as a prop or show them what really appears on the news stands in foreign countries.


Naturally this has proved very popular so far, so we cannot offer a regular delivery of very recent newspapers but what we can do is offer slightly out of date papers once or twice a term, completely free of charge (and always will be). Once you receive the papers, they are yours to keep and use as you wish.


If you would be interested in receiving newspapers, please contact us at letting us know your name, school address and which languages you teach. These are useful resources which we would rather make use of than get rid of so please sign up if you can see ways you can use them!

Test your language knowledge and donate rice at the same time!!

West Midlands

FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Programme partnered with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

FreeRice has two goals:

1. Provide education to everyone for free.
2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

The format of the website is a quiz in various different subjects (including languages - French, German, Italian and Spanish) and for each correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Programme thanks to sponsors who advertise discreetly on the website.

You are able to choose which level you want to work at, and automatically increases or decreases based on whether or not your answer4s are correct. If you get an answer wrong, you are asked the same question later on which provides a learning opportunity. Therefore, it could be used as a starter activity with all ages and levels of ability, an extension activity or a quick test in a computer lesson. The possibilities are endless! The students have the opportunity to test and increase their vocabulary whilst counting up how many grains of rice have been donated.

Have a look and recommend to colleagues in other departments too!

King Edwards Camp Hill students impress The Dragons!

West Midlands

On 2nd February 2010 King Edwards Camp Hill VI Camp Hill School for Girls played host to a Dragons' Den inspired business event.


Pupils from both the girls' and boys' schools used their entrepreneurial skills to develop and market a Christmas cracker for the French market. During the morning session they learned some valuable French business language and, most importantly, learned how to do business successfully with the French.


In the afternoon they worked in small groups putting their new language and cultural awareness to the test by designing their cracker and a marketing campaign. Each group created a presentation to be delivered to an invited business expert with prizes for the best presentation.

A  teacher pack, so you can hold a similar event in school are coming soon!

The event was one of a series of events funded by Routes into Languages and delivered with support from colleagues at Coventry University, Aston University and King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls. If you would like to host a similar event for schools in your local area, please get in touch at

 Watch the Video

Click the image to view the video.

Click to play video



Opportunities for Language Learning - Sixth Form Guide available now!

West Midlands

Language curriculum mapping carried out in the West Midlands by Routes into Languages identified that students in KS3, 4 and 5 are taking an increasingly diverse range of language courses and qualifications within a wide variety of curricum and extra curricular delivery models. This diversity has an impact on both the type and level of accreditation being achieved by learners, and on their experience of language learning.


Universities are also beginning to broaden the range of opportunities for language learning, which potential undergraduates may not be aware of. We feel it is important to ensure that Sixth Formers, and those who advise them, are provided with up to date information on the options available.


The booklet contains an outline of the different options givinging specific examples and illustrative case studies. The Teachers' Notes which accompany the booklet give some ideas about how to use this resource to help communicate the message to Sixth Form students in the process of making their future study choices.


Copies of the booklet and Teachers' Notes are being sent to all schools with Sixth Form and colleges in the West Midlands in early November 2009. You can also download a PDF copy here.


We hope that you and your students find this resource useful, please send any feedback you may have to us at