Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This material reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

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basic information

Title of the Project
My Unispace
Brief description
Southampton University set up an impressively managed e-mentoring system between undergraduates studying languages and local pupils in years 10-13. Undergraduates were carefully selected and trained as mentors by the University Outreach Office.The students communicated online with teenagers once a week to help them with their language learning, encouraging the teenagers to write in the target language.

In this project, everyone was a winner. The undergraduates gained valuable mentoring experience while refreshing their own language skills. The teenagers got an insight into what life might be like if they took their languages further and a chance to practise their language skills with a real adult audience. And teachers got increased motivation from their pupils.
United Kingdom
Target Language
French, German, Spanish
School Education
Higher Education
Transversal (more sectors addressed)
Further Information



My UniSpace matched pupils (mentees) aged 14–18 (Years 10–13) in schools and colleges with university students (mentors) who interact with them through online communication or 'e-mentoring'.


There were three main objectives as far as mentees were conerned:
- To support and motivate mentees and to encourage those in years 10–11 to progress to AS/A2 and those in years 12–13 to consider studying a language at University
- To give pupils an insight into life as a (language) student in Higher Education. This could be achieved by providing the opportunity for mentees to ask their mentors questions about university
- To develop mentees’ language skills by encouraging them to correspond with
their mentor in the TL.
There were also objectives for mentors:
- To give mentors experience of working with young people in a languages-related field
- To offer mentors the opportunity to enhance their employability
- To encourage mentors to improve their own language skills through supporting younger learners


Through e-mentoring (i.e. not through face-to-face meetings) mentors provided a friendly sounding board for pupils considering various options for their future. They were able to give mentees information about the personal and professional benefits attached to studying languages and to provide advice on language courses, universities and careers.
For pupils applying to universities,mentors might offer tips on personal statements and interviews.


Feedback was sought on the scheme via questionnaires to the 88 mentees and 49 mentors in the project's first year. 83% of the mentees responding said that the project had helped them to imporve their communication skills in the language, and about half stated that their confidence had also improved.
Over half also said that they felt more positive about the idea of studying languages at university.
Among mentors, a majority felt that the experience was something they would refer to in job applications, and many said their written communication skills and their skills in the foreign language had improved as a result of the project.

Why the European Language Label?

To give wider prominence to the scheme (thought to be unique in the field of languages) and to recognise the work of those involved.

Activities following the award of the European Language Label

An extensive article in Language Learning Journal and various items in the local press

Assessment of the Impact of the European Language Label

It gave wider prominence to the scheme both among universities and among schools with which they worked.

Recommendations for future applicants for the ELL

Ensure that methods of gathering feedback from project participants are thorough


Consistency with European Policies in the field of Language Learning

'EU language policies aim to protect linguistic diversity and promote knowledge of languages – for reasons of cultural identity and social integration, but also because multilingual citizens are better placed to take advantage of the educational, professional and economic opportunities created by an integrated Europe. The goal is a Europe where everyone can speak at least two other languages in addition to their own mother tongue'. This project clearly supported the second of these policies - universities need to keep producing languages graduates who can go on to be teachers and perhaps teacher trainers.

Consistency with European, National and yearly priorities

The 2008-2009 priorities were related to intercultural dialogue and languages for business. This project served to further especially the second of these priorities: not only did mentors gain experience in the foreign languages that might help them seek employment after university; mentees too were encouraged to take up languages at university level and potentially 'as a career'



What are the three most impressive aspects of this project?
• Impressively managed system for setting up secure e-mail links between university students and school students
• Positive impact on undergraduates, both in terms of their ‘employability skills development’ and improving their own language skills
• Programme includes plans for expansion and further evaluation of the project’s impact

How does the project meet the judging criteria?
• Innovative – E-mentoring allows school students to access help from students at university without the issues of travel or release from study
• Replicable – easily replicable using online E-mentoring software packages. Any university or other institution could replicate the project. The project is being replicated by Portsmouth University next academic year
• Effective – we felt there was not yet enough evidence of impact on pupils’ language learning. Perhaps the project should be re-submitted next year with further evaluated evidence of impact on, for example, examination performance


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Comments on this Case Studies

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2014.09.19

Posted by Marika Pursiainen (Finland)

Message: This method has elements of peer learning as the procedure of learning is reciprocal and both sides are in a similar situation: the mentor is a student himself, not an expert. This kind of learning method is very beneficial for both, especially for the teenagers because it increases teenager\'s engagement towards their own learning procedure. An older mentor can be a positive role model for a teenager as there is not much distance between the mentees and the mentors. A teacher holds more authoritarian position among the students.

Date: 2014.08.20

Posted by Pekka Virtanen (Finland)

Message: The project combines in a clever way two target groups of different ages, which is one of the aims also today in many projects, i.e. to combine different training sectors like vocational training and university etc. The use of e-learning methods helps surely the communication which is not bound to time or place. As stated in the project description, all are winners which increases probably the motivation among all.

Date: 2014.07.15

Posted by Richard Rossner (UK)

Message: I like this project because it attempted to address the problem of persuading more youngsters in the UK to carry on with foreign languages at university level, and also because it gave responsibility for and opportunities to help with this to undergraduates, thus creating a positive channel of communication between those thinking about doing a language degree and those already studying for such a degree,

21 December 2014

Audio- video presentation of the NELLIP project

An audio- video presentation of the NELLIP project has been created and made available in the Information section of the NELLIP portal. To access the presentation please click here: