Friday, 13 May 2016

Study about learning a new language through play - call for participants


Aims of the study
When children learn languages naturalistically (for example, if they move to a country where a new language is spoken) they are generally very successful, and more so than adults in the same situation. However the reasons for this differences are currently unknown. One way of investigating this is to teach children new words and sentences and see how they learn them. 
We are interested in the way children learn new languages naturalistically, e.g., pick up a new language without being taught the rules explicitly but simply while performing a fun activity the language is associated with (in this case playing a computer board game).

Learning ‘by doing’ is typical of the way children learnt their mother tongue or would learn a second language in an immersion situation abroad.

Data collection
I am an Associate Lecturer in Linguistics at Lancaster University and have previously worked as a Language tutor at the University of Manchester. This study is part of my doctoral degree in Applied Linguistics at Lancaster University. It is a university requirement that all researchers involved in work with children have a valid and clean DBS certificate. 
Data collection will require three separate sessions of about 40 minutes each (about 2 hours of your child's time in total) and I can meet you and the child at a local library.
In session 1: 
The children will learn 12 words of a new language through memory games, and practise how to play a simple computer board game similar to draughts; the new words include the token names, four possible moves and how to express their direction (i.e., vertical/horizontal).
In session 2 and 3:
For a short time the children will watch a series of game moves on the computer and simultaneously listen to how to say the moves in the new language. Then they will have a go at playing the computer board game performing a move according to the description they hear (and gain points for correctly performed moves). The child's performance will typically improve with practice. The computer programme keeps a record of the game and by the analysis of correct and incorrect moves we will be able to understand which language structures are learned and how fast.

The children should be about 8/9 years old and can be enrolled individually or in pairs (e.g. with a friend). Enrolling with a friend adds a further element of fun to the activity as the children learn and play the computer game together. Preference will be initially given to participants in the area of Greater Manchester.

An Amazon voucher (£15) will be offered to each participant as a thank you at the completion of the third session of data collection.

Enrolment is now open. If interested in participating and for more information please use the contact form or send an email to  
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Spanish Family Learning

Are you a parent/carer of a primary school child attending year 4 or year 5 living in the South Manchester area?
Would you like your child to participate in a language learning study? Learn more about the study...

If your answers to these questions are 'yes' you will be able to: 
Enrol free of charge on a 5-session family language course where you will enjoy learning Spanish with your child in a fun environment.
Course description:
  • 5 sessions - beginners' level
  • mixed parents/children group
  • communicative method and fun activities
  • teaching materials included
  • classes taught by a qualified MFL teacher (the researcher)
  • free of charge

Course starts November 18th, 2015
Enrolment is now open and places are limited! To enrol and for more information please do not hesitate to contact me via the contact form on the main menu or using the contact details on the leaflet your child brought home from school.

Time: Wednesday 4pm – 5pm
Calendar: 18/11; 25/11; 2/12; 9/12; 16/12
Venue: The LifeCentre, 235 Washway Road, Sale, M334BP 

  • Consent to your child's participation in a language learning study. Learn more about the study...
  • Limited to one parent or carer for every child enrolled.
(enrolment has now closed)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Spanish language and culture on 'The Walk'

The Camino de Santiago is an exciting and unforgettable adventure. It is a different way to discover Northern Spain, by following one of several itineraries whose common goal is the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.

Doing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route provides an opportunity to discover landscapes full of contrast, with plateaus and mountains, meadows and coastline. Different areas of countryside unfold one after another from start to finish.

You will find a surprise in the form of art, culture and monuments around almost every corner on the Camino de Santiago. On the way you will come across cathedrals, bridges, Roman roads, monasteries, palaces, stately homes, traditional regional architecture… thousands of buildings, priceless each and every one. Besides discovering this rich historic heritage, you will also have the opportunity to take part in the region's fiestas and experience the folklore and local cuisine. You can be sure that no other journey enables travellers to immerse themselves so completely in the real life of the region.


Friday, 29 March 2013

Italian Conversation Intermediate mini-course in Manchester

Are you a 18+ student of Italian or a speaker of Italian at Intermediate /Upper-Intermediate level?
Would you like to participate in a study on language learning strategies and attend a 4 session conversation mini-course free of charge at the University of Manchester?

Refresh your Italian speaking skills for the summer.
Limited availability!

Course start: April 16th, 2013

Course description:

  • 4 conversation sessions of 90 mins each
  • small groups 
  • Calendar: 16/4; 22/4; 29/4; 29/5  from 18.00 to 19.30 or from 19.30 to 21.00


  • Commitment to attend all four sessions, if selected for the programme
  • The course is not intended for Beginners' and/or Advanced students/speakers

Venue: The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester

(enrolment has now closed)

Monday, 10 September 2012

What our students say

'The tutor was excellent, I have learned a lot but never felt rushed' Steve Hopwood

'I have really enjoyed the course! It is challenging and stretching' Jane Mortimer

'I enjoyed the friendly informal atmosphere and the fact that we are taught Italian as it is really spoken by Italians, rather than just following a text book' 
Simon Gant

'I can strongly recommend the course, all my language skills including reading, writing and speaking have greatly improved' Alan Tyson

'Diana is an excellent teacher and moves us along at the appropriate pace. The group has also been very stable, which encourages friendship and active participation' 
Andrew Bradbury

'Easygoing, friendly and nothing at all like 'schooldays' - thank goodness!' Alison Hopwood