The OurLOTE Project is a social media project designed to celebrate the languages other than English (LOTE) used by staff and students at York St John University. It was initially funded by York St John University, and then by a small grant from the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML, now UCFL). The funding from UCML paid for 67 hours of work by Alfie Ball, a third year student in Japanese, TESOL and Linguistics.

Alfie supported members of staff and students at the university to create videos in American Sign Language, Bahasa Indonesian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Welsh, and Xuanwei. He shared these on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Alfie and the Project Lead, Dr Becky Muradás-Taylor, then worked together to combine the videos into a 10-minute film. This included video reflections by Becky and Alfie, as well as by the Head of School of Education, Language and Psychology, Dr Rachel Wicaksono, and the Student Union President of Education, Aimee Yeoman. The film was shown at the Our City Festival: One Community Many Voices at York Explore on the 27th March 2022.

An article about the OurLOTE project was published in the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) newsletter. This explains the reasons for starting the project – including the fact that few widening participation universities like York St John offer languages to degree level – and reflects on the project, with participants expressing “pride in taking part saying it was an ‘honour’, that the video is ‘not perfect but it’s mine’ […] and that they felt like they had ‘come out’ as a speaker of a language other than English”.

You can watch the film here and read the BAAL article here.

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