SOAS University of London


Contact: Terry King
Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching, UCL
ATLAS - A taste of languages at school


The objective of the ATLAS project is not to teach the target language formally but to interest 14-18 year old students in the possibility of studying it when they leave school, and to arouse an interest in the language and culture of some less commonly taught languages (LCTLs).


The project aims to address the continuing national decline in students taking languages, particularly the less widely taught languages, at university. Working cross-sector, from HE to schools, the project will “outreach” by making available to all UK secondary school and colleges, information about LCT language courses, and encourage pupils to consider applying for “ab initio” language courses at university. The project will:

  • create a rich resource for outreach into schools, a web site with tasters in 14 world wide languages
  • raise school pupils' awareness of the pleasure, opportunities and benefits of studying a new language at university
  • actively market the site in selected schools which show a particular interest, using successful undergraduates or post-graduates as role models and
  • actively support school pupils who are interested in acquiring a taste of a new language

The CETL has funded the addition of Greek, Mandarin, Arabic, Turkish, Yoruba, Dutch, Modern Hebrew, Swedish, Lithuanian and Hindi/Urdu (coming soon).

Products, Outputs & Outcomes

The trials in two schools have shown that there is an interest in these languages and the newly designed site is attractive to the target audience, 14-16 year old secondary school pupils. Evaluation showed the positive responses of the classes in regard to the changes and additions.

Outcomes of the project include:

  • A new web site with tasters in 14 languages and information on career opportunities, a rich resource for careers advisors and language teachers
  • Workshops demonstrating to teachers/careers advisors
  • A leaflet distributed to schools, advisors and policy makers
  • Publicity on CILT/LTSN and related web sites
  • Press and journal articles; radio and TV interviews
  • Conference presentations, particularly at the annual conference of the Association of Language Learning, the professional association for school language teachers
  • Reports and articles in journals for the wider academic community