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Completed CEELBAS Language Projects

Current CEELBAS Language Projects

PROeLANG - online Personal Learning Environments: Phase 2

Project Leaders: Urszula Chowaniec (Polish) and Ramona Gonczol (Romanian)

Report one

PROePOLISH is an innovative and pioneering website offering on-line courses of Polish language with elements of Polish culture on various levels from the Basic Polish to (in the future) Translation Courses and Linguistic Games. PROePOLISH’s courses combine set of instructions and information about the language and culture as a written mini-lectures, audio recordings, podcasts and exercises with various links to external information and films organized as a structured “staircase” of lessons/modules to achieve various levels of Polish.

PROePOLISH is a result of the 2nd phase of PROeLang project which was initiated in 2013. PROeLang is the result of cooperation between the teachers of two different languages who worked on conceptualising an innovative and progressive, easy and attractive for the learners and transferable to other languages online blueprint based on what we called toolkit, which is set of online resources and applications designed into paths of learning. Ramona Gonczol and myself have built a personal learning environment (PLE) online, called PROeLang following the philosophy of Personal Learning Environments, which are the systems that help learners become agents in designing their study of a language and manage their own learning pace.

The website is up and fully operative and can be reached from the re-edited site of the PROeLang project here http://PROeLang.weebly.com and also directly from PROePolish site at http://www.PROePolish.com

Report two

Proelang Romanian started in 2013 as part of the joint project called Proelang developed by  Urszula Chowaniec  as an online Personal Learning Environment (PLE) platform. In the first phase the project leadeers were granted a one sum grant and worked closely together on the concept,selection of materials and online free resources, bibliography and technical matters.

In the phase 2, project leaders used separate grants that enabled them to work more hours on each side of the platform, i.e. Romanian and Polish and to allow for the dissimilarities of the languages to develop naturally.

The platform is accessible at http://proeromanian.weebly.com/ and it sprung from the initial website http://proelang.weebly.com/ that was developed in phase 1.

Phase 2 of development comprised of further researching free online resources, of producing original downloadable materials in each lesson and toolkit and of developing lessons for theA1-A1+ levels (Basic Romanian) as well as starting to produce toolkits for the A1+-A2 level (Follow up 1).

Serbian/Croatian Pre-Intermediate Online Course

Project Leaders: Jelena Calic and Ivana Vrtic (UCL SSEES)


The main aim of this project was to create study materials/course for Czech or Slovak speakers (approximately B1 level) that would enable them to achieve an equivalent (passive) level of Slovak or Czech, respectively. Our study materials covered the main differences between the two languages and provided opportunities to practice passive (or active) language skills.

Slovak course for Czech speaking students / Czech course for Slovak speaking students

Project Leaders: Lucie Wiseman and Olga Willett (UCL SSEES)


The aim of this project is to create an online course for Czech or Slovak speakers that will enable students to achieve an equivalent level of Slovak or Czech, respectively. The primary objective is to equip students with the necessary skills for text translation. The course will cover the main differences between the two languages and provide opportunities to practise passive (or active) language skills. Course chapters will be focused on specific elements of language, such as common differences in phonology, orthography, grammar and vocabulary. Each chapter will contain a short text, explanation (and grammatical tables) and interactive exercises.

‘From the Classroom to the Street’: transferring Hungarian language skills between contexts with the help of blended learning tools

Project leader: Eszter Tarsoly (UCL SSEES)


The project addresses the challenge students face when immersed in a native-speaking environment following one or two years of classroom-based learning. In particular, the blended learning packages that have been developed enhance learners’ ability to process authentic auditory information quicker, and to respond to auditory input promptly, as required by the context. The outcome of the project are eight blended learning packages, each of which includes the following components: recordings of authentic dialogues in discretely selected topic and pragmatic areas, specialised vocabulary lists for learning and practice in the Quizlet online learning tool and its mobile phone application, practice exercises developed in the Hot Potatoes e-learning toolkit, which not only enhance learners’ understanding of the dialogues but also prompt them to respond quickly and adequately.

Training PhD students in abstracting and annotation skills

Project leader: Elena Simms (University of Manchester)


This project is intended for PhD students in Russian Studies who are working on projects related to the Russian media and socio-political issues, and who wish to improve their skills in summarising and producing abstracts of Russian texts (mainly socio-political material in contemporary Russian media).

PhD students regularly have to process large amounts of information in their work – a task they often find challenging. Summarising and annotating sources (or what in Russian is called реферирование) in a foreign language require a set of specific skills. The aim of the proposed training material is to develop skills in processing Russian-language texts of socio-political nature (media reports; governmental and policy documents; politicians' speeches, etc.). Students will also gain a greater understanding of the linguistic variety in such texts and so improve their ability to deliver oral and written presentations in a foreign language.

Core idioms of Polish culture

Project leader: Joanna Kowalska (University of Sheffield)


This Language project, entitled Core Idioms of Polish Cultures for Learners of All Levels is aimed at beginning and advanced learners of Polish who want to start and/or improve knowledge of Polish idioms. Idioms are one of the most difficult constructions in language for non-native speakers to learn. They reflect the structure of native language users’ minds and the way native speakers construe reality. Usually, they are evocative and metaphorical. Because they tend to be radically different in all languages and it is impossible to deduct the meaning of an idiom from the meanings of its individual components, it takes a long time to become familiar with idioms in a foreign language.

The general aim of this project is to help students of all levels who are looking to develop their comprehensive, reading and listening skills, to understand the structure of Polish idioms as they are occur in different text and contexts.

Varieties of Czech - online course upgrade

Project leader: Ludek Knittl (University of Sheffield)


The project is a major update and an expansion of an existing resource – the online advanced Czech course, Varieties of Czech (Variace češtiny)

Background: The course was originally created with CEELBAS funding in 2010 and has since been used for teaching as the main “textbook” for advanced students of Czech at the University of Sheffield. As a publicly available resource, it has also been used by other learners of Czech for self-study including PhD students, researchers and other interested parties from several UK universities who have found out about it via the CEELBAS repository. The course ran on the Moodle platform and was hosted on a commercial server – using an external, commercial server was the only option at the time of the creation of the course, because Sheffield University could not provide all the software required to run the database. The cost of hosting has been recently funded personally by the project leader, which is unsustainable.

The course ran on Moodle version 1.9 and required an update to at least version 2 (see below), which involved considerable time, expertise and effort due to major developments and changes in the functionality of the Moodle platform.

The course has now been updated to a new version of Moodle and is hosted at the University of Sheffield. It has improved navigation and updated design and content.

Developing Listening Comprehension Skills: Beginners Russian for self-study

Project leader: Evgeniia Drozdova (UCL SSEES)


The proposed project is intended as a self-study tool for students from various academic backgrounds learning Russian at the beginners’ level and looking to improve their aural skills in the 1st year of studying Russian. The materials chosen for the project consist of a variety of topics normally covered at this level in Russian Language text-books, including oneself and one’s family, hobbies and leisure, travel and sightseeing, getting around and shopping as well as seasons and weather.

The proposed consists of 3 modules each containing 5 short extracts (between 80 and 160 words each). Each recording is followed by (i) a set of 4 to 6 questions in English designed to test the understanding of the recorded materials, (ii) a vocabulary list and (iii) a transcript of each extract with the clearly marked answers to the set questions for self-assessment. English translations for both components (ii) and (iii) are provided.

The completed project is a compact and up-to-date study–pack, made available via the web, which allows the students (i) to listen to the recorded materials, either as an entire module or as separate pieces; (ii) to answer the set questions testing their understanding of spoken Russian; (iii) to assess their comprehension of the authentic recorded materials through the transcripts with answers provided; (iv) to revise and widen their vocabulary range.

Developing Listening Comprehension Skills. Intermediate Russian for self-study

Project Leader: Evgeniia Drozdova (UCL SSEES)
Dates: June 2014 - July 2015


This project has created self-study materials for students from various academic backgrounds learning Russian at the intermediate level and looking to improve their aural skills.

The materials encompass a variety of topics discussed in Russian mass media, including but not limited to current social, cultural and political developments. The materials consist of audio interviews supported by a “package” of files including transcripts of the recordings, vocabulary lists, questions set to test listening comprehension, answers to the set questions, and interactive Hot Potatoes exercises.

The Development of Writing Skills of Research Students of Russian History, Sociology and Politics

Project Leader: Elizaveta Alentaeva-Langley (University of Manchester)
Dates: May 2014 - March 2015


Aimed primarily at those with advanced Russian language proficiency, the training materials produced through this project support the improvement of writing skills for research purposes.

Each unit supplies the learner with an adapted text, key vocabulary, different types of activities and tasks to be carried out in writing. The material (20 units, totaling up to 30 hours of study) covers skills such as: presenting one's research project; expressing opinions; translating quotations or short texts; summarising articles; essay writing.

Language Learning in Support of Corpora-based Research – Exploring Corpora in Language Learning (Hungarian)

Project Leader: Eszter Tarsoly (UCL SSEES)
Dates: Jul 2012-Jun 2014


The project compiled small specialised corpora in Hungarian in two areas – ‘History and Culture’ and ‘Society and Current Affairs’ (roughly 5,000 words each) – with a view to supporting the teaching of Hungarian reading skills. Corpus-based exercises, with methodological explanations, were designed, and are suitable for use by students and teachers in a blended learning environment. To our knowledge, this is the first project of its kind, not only in the UK but also beyond; Hungarian corpora have not previously been tested for use in language pedagogy. The project leader received advice from the Institute of Linguists in Hungary, feedback from students, and suggestions from colleagues at UCL SSEES.

Creating a Finnish Online Course for Beginners

Project Leader: Riitta-Liisa Valijarvi (UCL SSEES)
Dates: Jun 2014-Jan 2014


This project designed and delivered an online beginners’ Finnish course to students at CEELBAS universities and beyond using video conferencing tools and VLE platforms. The course consisted of 10 weekly 90-minute lessons and was based on the widely used textbook Teach Yourself Complete Finnish by Terttu Leney, complemented by vocabulary quizzes and reading and writing assignments.

Online Intermediate Finnish Course: Focus on Research Skills

Project Leader: Riitta-Liisa Valijarvi (UCL SSEES)
Dates: Jan-May 2014

As a direct follow-up to the above project, Dr Valijarvi ran an intermediate-level Finnish course. All four skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking – were practised and tested, although the focus was on reading authentic texts, such as news, statistics and report summaries, and preparing for fieldwork in Finland. 

Developing Good Practice in Postgraduate Language Teaching

Project Leader: Ludek Knittl (University of Sheffield)
Dates: June 2013-Jan 2014


The project was a collaboration between two practitioners in the field of teaching Slavonic and East European languages, Luděk Knittl (University Teacher, Sheffield) and Marta Jenkala (Senior Teaching Fellow in Ukrainian, UCL SSEES).

The project participants have jointly produced a website consisting of six sections containing guidance to good practice in language teaching with specific focus on teaching Slavonic languages in Higher Education in the UK. The website is a blend of practical advice based on teaching practice and a signpost towards resources that teachers might find useful in their own practice.

Visit the 'Teaching Slavonic Languages' website

The section on teaching technologies was created from materials that had been used in a workshop at the University of Sheffield which aimed to introduce the participants to the current thinking behind the application of technologies in teaching languages and to train them to use two different online tools to create effective online materials for the study of grammar and vocabulary and linking those to VLEs.

Project workshop details

PROeLANG: Personal Learning Environments in Polish and Romanian Language Teaching: E-learning Toolkits for Independent Postgraduate Learners

Project Leaders: Dr Urszula Chowaniec (UCL SSEES) and Ramona Gonczol (UCL SSEES)
Dates: Nov. 2012-July 2013


Project website: http://proelang.weebly.com/index.html

PROeLANG is a collaborative project to conceptualise, research and design e-learning toolkits for independent postgraduate language learners. Sample Personal Learning Environments have been created for Polish and Romanian (beginners’ levels) but the model is designed to be  transferable to other languages.

Bulgarian for Research: A Distance-Learning Course

Project Leader: Dr Ognyan Kovachev (UCL)
Dates: Nov. 2012-April 2013

Taught through Skype, this pilot distance-learning project offered students from CEELBAS universities an introduction to Bulgarian grammar, a knowledge of basic vocabulary, and practice in the skills of translation, summary and information retrieval.

Introduction to life and work of Ivo Andrić – a language learning resource for postgraduate students

Project Leaders: Jelena Calic (UCL) and Dr Ivana Vrtic (UCL)
Dates: Oct 2012-March 2013


This project has created a resource for the teaching of Serbian and Croatian language comprised of audio-visual and textual materials covering the life, work and legacy of the writer Ivo Andrić.

Expansion of Oxford REES Language Training (East European Languages)

Project Leader: Dr Anna Pleshakova (University of Oxford)
Dates: July 2012-March 2013


This was a project to design course templates for Polish, Czech, Serbian and Ukrainian language training at the University of Oxford, drawing on the experience of designing language courses as part of Phase 1 of the CEELBAS project (2006-2011).

CEELBAS Residential Workshop for PG students on Teaching Slavonic Languages

Project Leaders: Dr Emma Widdis (Cambridge) and Marta Jenkala (UCL)
Dates: 22nd-23rd March 2013

A 2-day professional development workshop to introduce postgraduate students to the complexities, theories and practicalities of teaching Slavonic languages in UK universities.

Ukrainian for Postgraduate Research Purposes: An Intensive Language Workshop

Project Leader: Dr Olesya Khromeychuk (Cambridge)
Dates: 15th-16th March 2013


This workshop focused on developing reading and communication skills whilst also enabling participants to address key concerns regarding the use of the Ukrainian language in postgraduate research.

The Development of Reading Skills of PhD Students of Russian history

Project Leaders: Dr Elizaveta Alentaeva-Langley (Manchester) and Dr Elena Simms (Manchester)
Dates: Oct. 2012-March 2013


Using authentic newspaper articles and television programmes as source material, this project has created a training resource to improve postgraduate students’ reading skills in Russian, particularly for the purpose of processing lengthy texts. 

Learning Strategies for Postgraduates: the Finno-Ugric Interface 3 (Estonian)

Project Leader: Kristiina McCabe (UCL SSEES)
Dates: July 2012-December 2012

Available now at: www.no.ee/muu/ceelbas_project

An interactive learning platform has been created containing embedded audio and text files and a built-in recording application that allows students to record and compare their pronunciation with that of native speakers.

Learning to listen to and understand mass media broadcasts in Polish - a course for postgraduate students

Project Leaders: Dr Dagmar Divjak (University of Sheffield) and Anna Socha-Michalik (University of Sheffield)
Dates: Summer-Autumn 2012


Available now at: www.hrionline.ac.uk/ceelbas

This online resource is aimed at advanced learners of Polish who need to continue language education at postgraduate level for research that involves current affairs and relies on radio and TV. 

CEELBAS Language Projects: 2007-2011

Communicative Ukrainian for fieldwork and research

Project Leader: Marta Jenkala
Institution: UCL
Dates: June 2010-April 2011

Project Report

This project produced a set of web-based research-relevant Ukrainian language materials, focusing primarily on comprehension and production of study- or fieldwork-related spoken Ukrainian to complement a Read Ukrainian! course produced previously. 

Aural materials to support PG students’ Fieldwork: Serbian and Croatian

Project Leader: Jelena Calic
Institution: UCL
Dates: June 2010-Jan. 2011

Project Report

This collection of audio and video materials contains over two hours of listening material with accompanying exercises and background information.The interviews are divided into thematic blocks covering the topics most frequently researched by postgraduate students (such as migration, human rights, culture, sport, politics/current affairs).

Cognitive Linguistic Methods in Cultural Analysis: Interdisciplinary Perspective

Project Leader: Anna Pleshakova
Institution: University of Oxford
Date: June 2011

Workshop to discuss cognitive linguistics as a promising theoretical foundation for interdisciplinary cultural research, specifically in the area of Russian and East European Studies. View Full Report and download workshop materials

Enhancing reading skills for Polish for research purposes

Project Leader: Dorota Holowiak
Institution: UCL
Dates: Sept. 2010-April 2011

The project explored new ways of enhancing reading comprehension skills in Polish and consequently equip ab initio students with a reading competence adequate to meeting the demands of thesis-writing.

Reading Strategies for Postgraduates: The Finno-Ugric Interface 2 - Finnish and Hungarian elements

Project Leaders: Riitta-Liisa Valijarvi and Eszter Tarsoly
Institution: UCL
Dates: Dates: July 2010-April 2011

Project Report - Hungarian / Project Report - Finnish

This project continued the development of graded readers of Finnish and Hungarian for postgraduate students and investigated the different approaches used in the materials that teach postgraduate students to acquire reading skills.

Reading Strategies for Postgraduates: the Finno-Ugric Interface 2 - Estonian element

Project Leader: Kristiina McCabe
Institution: UCL
Dates: July 2010-April 2011

Project Report

This project oversaw the production of Estonian word-frequency lexica, specifically designed for post-graduate students whose study pathways include Politics, Economics and Sociology.

Oral Russian for Fieldwork course materials

Project Leader: Cai Wilkinson
Institution: University of Birmingham
June 2010-Jan. 2011

Project Report

This project produced a set of materials covering 12 topics to equip students with essential vocabulary and skills to effectively communicate information in a Russophone fieldwork environment.

Productive Language for Fieldwork Training: Russian

Project leader: Anna Pleshakova
Institution: University of Oxford
Dates: March 2010-Nov. 2010

This project used authentic radio interviews with Russian politicians, writers and journalists to create a set of language materials for advanced learners of Russian, focusing especially on the development of productive language for fieldwork.

CN09SF-1: Materials for developing language skills for postgraduate students of Polish and Czech

Project leaders: Ludek Knittl and Karolina Ziolo
Institution: University of Sheffield
Oct. 2009-Sept. 2010

Project Report

Interactive web-based self-study units were developed incorporating authentic materials and virtual learning tools and introducing language styles and registers of the respective languages that other textbooks either do not deal with at all or only mention briefly.

The Development of Online Materials Enhancing Oral Fluency in Polish

Project leader: Ewa Ochman
Institution: University of Manchester
March 2010-June 2010

Project Report

A project to create online teaching materials enabling students at Beginners and Intermediate levels of Polish to develop skills needed to communicate effectively in a wide range of situations.

Masterclass: Experimental Methods in Slavic Linguistics and Language Pedagogy

Project leader: Dr Dagmar Divjak
Institution: University of Sheffield
Date: 8th-11th April 2010

Recent waves of immigration have made it easier for Slavic linguists to work with native speakers of Slavic languages in the UK, making experimental methodology an ideal way of joining the empirical linguistics movement.

Updating and revision of Birmingham postgraduate Russian reading course for beginners

Project leader: Dr Jeremy Morris
Institution: University of Birmingham
Dates: Jan. 2009-Sept. 2009

Project report

Project to revise the contents of Birmingham Graduate Russian Course to reflect changes in culture and society since last revision (1980s). 

Form and Content of shared web-space for language materials

Project leader: Dr Jeremy Morris
Institution: University of Birmingham
Dates: Oct. 2008-June 2009

Project report

Consultation Group within CEELBAS Institutions that has since led to the development of the open-access CEELBAS Language Repository.

Language Teaching at UCL SSEES and the Common European Framework of Reference

Project leader: Marta Jenkala
Institution: UCL
Dates: Oct. 2009-April 2009

Project report

Project to investigate how current provision for the teaching and testing of East European and Slavonic languages at UCL SSEES maps onto the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). View detailed report on the project and its findings.

Development of web-based element of Intermediate Russian Oral Course for Postgraduate Students

Project leader: Dr Jeremy Morris
Institution: University of Birmingham
Dates: Jan. 2009-April 2009

Project report

Project to develop the VLE element of an Intermediate Russian Oral Course for PG students. 

Applying Innovative Methods and Techniques to Teaching Russian at REES: A Cognitive View

Project leader: Dr Anna Pleshakova
Institution: University of Oxford
Dates: Feb. 2009-August 2009

This project investigated how current provision for teaching Russian at REES can be enhanced by adapting applied cognitive linguistics (language pedagogy) methods to the teaching of Russian to postgraduate students. 

Lithuanian for Research

Project leader: Jurgita Azhar
Institution: UCL
Dates: July 2008

Project report

A langauge project for the development of Lithuanian language teaching materials for ab initio students, focusing on aspects of Lithuanian culture, economics, politics, science and social life.

Materials for developing the language research skills of heritage speakers of Polish

Project leader: Karolina Ziolo
Institution: University of Sheffield
Dates: Oct. 2008-Oct. 2009

Project report

This project created a package of online self-study materials aimed at heritage speakers of Polish, who may be studying at post-graduate level and are looking to improve their academic language skills.

Reading Strategies for Postgraduates: the Finno-Ugric Interface

Project leader: Dr Daniel Abondolo
Institution: UCL
Dates: June-August 2008

A study of the particular difficulties encountered by postgraduate learners of the three largest Finno-Ugric langauges: Hungarian, Estonian and Finnish.

Report on Estonian element
Report on the Hungarian and Finnish elements

Russian for Research

Project leader: Dr. Susan Reid
Institution: University of Sheffield
Dates: Nov. 2007-May 2008

This project aimed to research the need and market for a Russian for Research programme and to develop appropriate teaching materials, with special emphasis on distance learning.

The Development of Language Materials for Postgraduate Students of Russian Media

Project leader: Professor Stephen Hutchings
Institution: University of Manchester
Dates: Jan.-March 2008

This project produced a set of teaching materials to enable students of Russian to develop the skills needed to glean and assess key information from Russian media texts and to develop sensitivity to the sociolinguistic and political contexts in which the texts are disseminated.

CEELBAS Language Workshop

Project leader: Dr. Robin Aizlewood, Dr. Jan Fellerer, Dr. Robert Vanderplank
Institution: UCL, University of Oxford
Date: 10th May 2007

The workshop at Wolfson College Oxford brought together language teaching specialists from across the CEELBAS network, with invited outside participants, to share information on language training for research (provision, syllabus, delivery).