IMPACT ON INSTITUTIONS
An important aim of the project is to convince organisations outside the area of language teaching of its value to their clients and of the possibility of replicating the activities undertaken, once involvement with ALLEGRO is complete.
In the great majority of cases, the organisations approached by partners have welcomed the opportunity to become involved in the project. Reasons given have included:
- the fact that clients have already expressed an interest in language learning
- a recognition of the value of language learning to their clients by senior management in the organisation.
- a desire to try something new, as a way of motivating clients and expanding their interests.
- the fact that the courses were free-of-charge.
- the possibilities for dissemination and good publicity for the organisation.
When doubts were expressed it was usually about the capability of their clients to benefit.
Almost all organisations which we have worked with have been very positive about what we have done with them. When activities have, as in a few cases, been terminated prematurely, this has been because the number of learners has dwindled.
Some responses showing a positive impact have been:
- verbal and written comments such as, ‘I didn’t think it would work so well’, ‘We really feel our clients have benefited.’
- visits from senior members of staff, to watch classes.
- asking [even begging!] ALLEGRO to continue working with their clients.
- suggesting new languages or approaches.
- articles in the their own publications informing the rest of the organisation about the project.
- attempts to find further funding, in order to continue teaching languages.
The main changes in attitude noted as a result of the project have been:
- an increased awareness of the value of learning a language, even for a short while, in particular in terms of an increase in confidence in clients.
- Surprise at their clients’ progess.
A more positive attitude to languages on the part of both senior staff and those closely involved. Some examples are:
- staff who initially claimed not to know the language, but then started to join in lessons themselves.
- staff who made suggestions about what could be taught and how.
- staff who took over the classes, when the teacher was away or at the end of the sub-project.
- staff expressing a determination to extend their own language skills.
Although most organisations expressed disappointment that ALLEGRO could only work with them for a short time and would have liked to continue, in practice it was difficult for them to do so, because they could not find funding and/or suitable teachers. Exceptions were:
- the private prison in the UK, which continued to employ the teacher, using its own funding.
- the parents group for children with Downs Syndrome in Spain, which also took over the funding of lessons.
- the organisations involved in Summer Song in Nottingham, who are planning a repeat of this, using their own funding.