SOAS University of London

Language Tasters

Contact: Anil Biltoo 
Department: SOAS Language Centre
Link: Language Tasters


This project produced and disseminated promotional language tasters for four languages for video download/streaming on the SOAS Language Centre website.


The languages chosen are those that are taught both as regular scheduled courses at the Language Centre and as jointly taught courses and administered by the Language Centre and the South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa Departments (BA1/Elementary) - Burmese, Gujarati, Indonesian and Yoruba. 

The tasters take the form of five-minute introductions to the chosen languages that include

  •  background information, e.g. where the language is spoken and by whom
  • main aspects of language structure, e.g. tones, script
  • simple greetings and introductions
  • student testimony and learner experience
  • directions to the relevant Language Centre and Department websites

Aims and Objectives

The overall aim of the language taster videos is to promote the teaching and learning of less widely taught languages at SOAS.

The specific aims are

  • To promote and thereby maintain the spread of languages taught at SOAS both in the Language Centre and the Departments by focussing on the less widely taught languages, with a focus on heritage languages
  • To promote the availability of evening BA1/Elementary courses available to non-BA/MA students and contribute to the establishment of the School of Languages via this joint Language Centre and Department initiative
  • To reach out and further inform potential students on languages available at SOAS, teaching methodologies used and increased options, i.e. 2 or 4 hour per week courses
  • To maximise the potential of existing multimedia and technical resources available to SOAS
  • To make a meaningful contribution towards increased revenue generation
  • To reach out to potential teachers


Currently, only printed course descriptions and course syllabi are available to potential students, with only course descriptions available via the website. Moreover, these are largely aimed at those who have already decided to a) learn a language and b) which language they wish to learn. Additionally, these descriptions, in their current form, are not able to convey the learning experience, nor are they able to reinforce the skill, expertise and professionalism of teachers and courses provided at SOAS.

The establishment of the School of Languages has been considerably delayed. Nevertheless some language acquisition courses are already being jointly taught and administered. This project is part of a collaboration between the Language Centre and the Departments that works towards the facilitation of the School of Languages.

There is also a need to take a more coordinated approach towards the promotion of the learning (and teaching) of less widely taught languages. This project can serve as a pilot project for new marketing strategies.

The videos could also be used to recruit potential teachers – of which there is a considerable shortage in a number of strategic less widely taught languages.

Products, Outputs & Outcomes

  • Four short videos of five minutes each, available for download or for streaming via the web
  • A model/template for video-content language tasters
  • Increase in student interest and numbers
  • Increase in interest from potential teachers