The language of learning

Tuesday 9 September 2003

A unique web-based programme to allow children to collaborate electronically with others throughout Europe is being launched by the University of St Andrews.

The EC-funded programme, aimed at helping primary school children (aged between 8 and 11) discover other European cultures, language and literature, is being directed by foreign language scholars.

The University’s School of Modern Languages has received 180,516.00 euros – over £120,000 – from the European Directorate-General for Education and Culture as part of its VEL (virtual electronic learning) initiative. The programme will also be of assistance to Teacher Training Colleges and University foreign language students.

The 18 month funding will pay for the creation of a website that will connect teachers and students in Universities, Teacher Training Faculties and Primary Schools in four European Countries – France, Greece, Spain and the UK.

The website project will support the existing “Only Connect” project – a unique project started in 1999 at the University of Exeter to develop links in both Primary and tertiary education through various involvement of foreign translations of children’s literature.

Project Director, Bernard Bentley of the University of St Andrews’ Dept of Spanish, described each step of the initiative:

“Published Children’s Literature from each country is selected for translation into the other languages of the project as part of the Universities translation programmes to develop the practical translating skills of their foreign language students.

“To exploit the text in the primary classrooms, class activities and resource packs are developed in the Teacher Training Centres, who train teachers to develop strategies to develop multi cultural and linguistic awareness.

“Primary pupils read the texts in translation, discuss them and prepare questions on the texts as well as cultural materials on their own experience to share with other schools throughout the European community.”

Participants at each stage of the project are asked to communicate electronically with collaborators in other countries.

The projected website will enable forty primary schools in the four countries to share on-line information about their respective countries and their reading. Four Teacher Training Colleges will collaborate and share activities using the texts in the classroom and collect information prepared by pupils in the countries of the source language. Finally, nine University Departments will be able to consult each other about translation problems and their lecturers can share best practice experience.

The website will be available through WebCT – the world’s leading provider of integrated e-learning systems for higher education, which delivers the most advanced educational technology available to support a full range of teaching and learning styles.

It is hoped that other European institutions will visit the website and join the initiative, expanding the breadth of the project in other countries and languages to diversify further the linguistic and cultural elements.

The intention is to build a large library of children’s literature in translation and to make it available for educational purposes throughout Europe.

Mr Bentley is a senior lecturer in Spanish experienced in computer assisted language learning, and has been involved in three very different computer projects associated in the development of linguistic skills and language acquisition. Carina Evans is the present Project Manager and is responsible for making the website available throughout Europe in the four participating languages.

The project will hold its first European meeting next week (14th- 15th September) to discuss the content of the website; to decide on new texts for translation; to look at how to share information on Primary School use of translation and recruit new countries into the project.

For further information contact Bernard Bentley on 01334 462967 or email [email protected]


The full project title is ‘Transeuropean project in intercultural citizenship education and development of linguistic skills through Virtual eLearning Environment (VLE).

Note from the European Community:

“The content of this project does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Community, nor does it involve any responsibility on the part of the European Community.”

LOCAL ADD: Local primary schools are invited to participate in the project and those interested should contact Bernard Bentley on 01334 462967 or email bpeb@st-


Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected] Ref: B Bentley language pr 100903 View the latest University news at

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