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The Language Centre



About eLearning @ the Language Centre

The language learning and teaching activities of the Language Centre are underpinned and informed by relevant research in second language acquisition and educational technology.

University of Cambridge Language Centre

While always keeping the needs of learners to the fore, the Centre continues to endeavour to keep abreast of technological developments, and to employ those which can be successfully used to enhance language learning. Funding from HEFCE, the Newton Trust, and collaboration with the BBC have contributed to ongoing development. Project partnerships with other universities in the UK and China and with media and technology companies in the UK help in this endeavour.

Open courseware

The Language Centre has now adopted a policy of, wherever possible, making its online resources available to the education sector as open courseware on the basis of the Creative Commons Licence.

Most of these resources were initially developed for the language courses run as part of the Cambridge University Language Programme (CULP). The materials were designed for use in a blended learning environment combining ICT-based learning with face-to-face learning in the classroom. These resources can be used for self-study but for their most effective use they will benefit from a learning environment with some face-to-face contact. We hope to make further resources available as open courseware in the near future.

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Previous Project

AHRC Skills Development Awards

The Language Centre in collaboration with The University of Manchester have developed a range of learning objects to support the acquisition of reading skills in French and German. The project was supported by a grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Council's Skills Development Awards programme.

The learning objects are primarily intended as resources for graduate students and early career researchers, who are not language graduates. The training resources consist of:

  • an introductory tutorial on academic reading skills aimed at both learners students
  • sample texts in French and German in a range of Arts and Humanities disciplines, supported by glossaries, grammatical guidance, annotations and interactive exercises.

It is hoped that the resources will help students:

  • improve their ability to read texts in the relevant language
  • strengthen their grammatical knowledge in order to unlock the meaning of relevant texts and raise their awareness of relevant discourse functions
  • strengthen their ability to understand the cultural contexts of the texts
  • acquire knowledge of the core linguistic features of oral presentations

To download the resources follow the links below:

 Tutorial module (Also available from the French and German pages.)

French Reading resources

German Reading resources

Past Projects

For five years, from 1994 - 1999, the Centre was a partner in two European projects, Hipernet and Leverage, where the other partners were from hi-tech industries throughout Europe. The knowledge and experiences gained have been instrumental in developing LC Online which provides language learning materials for all University of Cambridge users. and also in setting up the multimedia workstations provided for users in the John Trim Centre for independent learning. LC Online resources include audios, videos, text, images, interactive exercises, daily off-air recordings, support materials for CULP and EAP courses and past examination papers for University of Cambridge language faculties.

The online support materials for CULP French and German were developed in-house in the year preceding the launch of the courses in 2000. In subsequent years online support was developed for the CULP Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Russian courses as they were added to the programme. Additional Dossiers for French and German have been added and resources for CULP continue to be developed as the number of languages offered is increased.

Collaboration with the BBC Worldwide and a grant from the Newton Trust in the years 2002-2005 led to the development of Languages At Your Fingertips (LAYF), an innovative online language programme aimed at basic and intermediate level students in French and Spanish. The topic-based units that comprise the courses were designed as a discovery path through the French/Spanish language and culture and use video, audio and texts as input in an integrated way. The online material is based on authentic multimedia resources produced by the BBC or specially filmed or recorded for this purpose by the BBC.

Participation in HEFCE's eChinaUK Programme from 2003 - 2007 led to the development of English online resources. A process that is continuing with the current collaboration of the Language Centre with the Department of Foreign Languages at Tsinghua University.

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