I’ve had several conversations about personal budgets this year already, so here’s a template that you may find useful: BudgetTemplate.

I created this with a librarian’s wage in mind but if you don’t earn that amount, or your spending habits are different, you can adjust the figures in the template to suit your individual circumstances. The calculations should still work.

And if you don’t like my template, there are many others online, for example these “5 Household Budget Templates That Will Help If You Actually Stick With It“.

Some simple tips for sticking to a budget and saving (added after more conversations on Twitter):

  • Send your planned savings into a savings account at the beginning of the month. Only touch them in an emergency. Set a target, which will help you stay motivated.
  • Withdraw weekly budget in cash on a Monday morning. Don’t use your card unless it’s an emergency. That way you can see what you spend. And any leftover – weekend treats (or savings, if you are really good)!
  • Take your home-made lunch to work. That can save approx. £2 a day. Shop late in the day, as shops reduce food around 5.30pm. Freeze what you don’t use straight away
  • Explore free events, e.g. free concert season at music colleges, town halls, etc.
  • Use your public library.
  • Ask whether you are buying something because you need it (in which case – buy immediately) or because you want it (walk away and if you still want it the next day, consider buying it).

More tips welcome, please add yours in the comments!

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Storify – all my old ones

Here are some pdfs, in case anyone is interested in my old Storifys (but probably more for my own archive):

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Annual AULC conference 2018 #AULC2018 #SBSAULC2018

Another January, another AULC conference. No more Storify, so no pretty pictures this time… but here’s the full programme and my notes:

Day 1

Opening Keynote: Elissavet Amanatidou (Brown University): From major to minor: reconfigured pedagogies and curricular transformations in ab initio university language classes.

  • Embrace ab initio provision in HE
  • curricular changes in schools
  • Language competency =valuable skill? Need to work on image. Different competencies
  • Literacies – ”empowers individuals to enter societies” (Swaffar & Arens, 2005)
  • World Readiness National Standards: 5 Cs
  • Learning materials need to be relevant to students’ lives not infantilise – scaffolding required
  • eMargin resource (Birmingham University)
  • use adverts for language learning – authentic materials but simple & social context, different skills, use of adjectives

Parallel session 1

Language learning as an institutional partnership. Isle Renaudie (University of East Anglia)

  • Language as economic resources
  • Need for global mind set
  • University-wide etc priorities may differ
  • Opportunity to design curriculum inspired by non academic context
  • Applied language learning opportunities
  • Collaborative project opportunities
  • Recognition and visibility of language department activities
  • Challenges: Sustainability, focus, staff expertise/what leads teaching, differentiation
  • Interesting initiatives in French: video CVs, market research/working with alumni
  • Translation projects, e.g. graphic novels
  • Degree programme identity: value of complementarity, specialisation of language departments
  • Board games in language education – language and culture

The dual role of University Language Centres. Oranna Speicher (University of Nottingham)

  1. IWLP
  • Global engagement & CPD for language teaching staff
  • Does the institution know what the LC does? Perceptions!
  • Give students linguistic competence to go abroad – international graduate – but: need to provide some opportunities at home
  • Challenges: timetabling, awareness amongst students (includes grade awareness), awareness and willingness to open curricula
  • Try to shift university’s mind set, e.g. meetings with Head of Schools to get insights into curricula constraints and ways to overcome this
  • Note to self: LZ and Tandem offer ways to overcome some of these issues
  • Marketing and advertising, using student voices/feedback
  • Internationalisation of staff is another topic completely

2. CPD

  • Scholarship
  • Finland
  • Who teaches language – language teachers often disadvantaged in comparison with academics, e.g. promotion
  • LANTERN (2014) – create identity for language teachers, sharing best practice, regular seminars – now includes not only LC colleagues

Parallel sessions 2

Global engagement strategy: enhancing graduate employability through short intensive academic placements overseas. Ali Nicholson (University of Reading)

  • Students going abroad generally do better after university
  • Generally good feedback about placement abroad – part to course -special funding for abroad activity
  • Skills developed: language, confidence to speak and generally
  • Intercultural differences – not all students knew how to reflect/notice differences

Special Interest Group Meeting: Professional development

  • See website for aims etc
  • Open group! Anyone can initiate discussions
  • Professional Identity
  • Support scholarly activity
  • Not just teachers but also those that support learning, e.g. librarians
  • Collaborative networks – be ambitious about projects!
  • Resource sharing
  • How-to sessions
  • Physical meeting of interest
  • http://www.aulc.org/contact-us/mailing-lists/

Keynote: Prof Terry Lamb (Professor of Languages and Interdisciplinary Pedagogies, University of Westminster) – Opportunity and innovation in language learning and teaching in UK higher education.

  • See photos
  • Internationalisation of curriculum
  • Reward systems important when supporting innovation
  • Enhancing student partnerships
  • Value our multilingual unis – identity & career development
  • Employability and enterprise
  • Technology
  • Interdisciplinarity
  •  Civic role of university – community, community languages
  • Value of existing multilingualism – how can curriculum benefit? Create a bridge? Foundation degrees?
  • Outreach
  • Sheffield, Festival of the Mind. 2014?
  • whylanguagesmatter.org
  • Westminster Learning Communities – website?
  • Murray and Lamb, 2018 – Space, place and autonomy in language learning
  • Student centeredness
  • Plurilingual education

Duolinguo versus uTalk: selecting appropriate software to support IWLP learners. Billy Brick (Coventry University)

  • Framework for evaluating apps: Fernando Rosell-Aguilar
  • http://oro.open.ac.uk/48776/
  • Duolingo not teaching cultural competence/awareness, or pretending to do so
  • Cost a consideration, also possibility to work offline, customer service, accessibility/how easy to log in
  • Gamification
  • Statistics useful

Enhancing employability through the integration of linguistic diversity awareness in the syllabus: the case of Arabic. Dr Rasha Soliman (University of Leeds)

  • Students don’t learn languages to get a job
  • languages4work.eu
  • Arabic varieties – exposure during studies develops future employability
  • Download PPT for resources/websites
  • Variation as 6th skill
  • Work with colleagues
  • Teacher as human being

Day 2

Plenary: Brian Fox (recently retired from Director of the provision of interpreting for the European Commission) – Students as Global Graduates.

  • Importance of language in EC
  • USA don’t have a national language (initially not to exclude anyone)
  • It takes two to communicate.
  • EU 8 key competencies
  • Language – culture – identity = triangle, support each other
  • Geert Hofstede – cultural identity/nose
  • Fons Trompenaars – pedestrian dilemma – cultural behaviour – https://www.cio.co.uk/it-leadership/fons-trompenaars-explains-culture-diversity-innovation-3591682/
  • https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/seven-dimensions.htm
  • International work experience
  • Microsoft – work on attention spans
  • Audience matters
  • Societal changes brought on by social media etc
  • Bubble!!
  • People look for confirmation of their beliefs
  • “constant waterfall” of information
  • Need for critical thinking, workplace preparation, modernisation, selectivity (media, offers, decisions)
  • question whether everyone should go to university – everyone has a gift and it may not be academic gift!



  • useful certification
  • Not trying to replace university certification
  • http://www.unilang.website
  • Early adopters: Manchester, Durham, Sheffield


  • New website: http://www.cercles.org
  • September conference in Poznan
  • Journal – online access through library

UCML – AULC survey

  • Read full report when published – approx. in March
  • First time looking at resource centres, proportion of international students
  • Low response rate
  • Non-specialist language learning – prospects similar to previous year, some more uncertainty – watch this space for further analysis
  • Most postgraduates can’t take modules? Watch this space for further analysis
  • Some institutions offering special courses for postgraduates, members of the public – may be due to funding

Parallel sessions

Foreign Language Centre: not just a language provision. Dr Juan Garcia Precedo and Prof Sonia Cunico (University of Exeter)

  • Internationalisation and global citizenship agenda in HE
  • Perception of added value of FL modules
  • Increased emphasis of work experience abroad, study abroad
  • Unresolved issue of service unit rather than academic department – recognition within institution (Cinderella complex)
  • Language competence more than a skill
  • Peer learning/ lifelong learning
  • Create professional community – students
  • PAL scheme, Exeter University
  • Teaching Assistantship Scheme – like FLAs? To assist tutors, not replace
  • F2F tandem scheme – monthly social events – similar to Global Cafe
  • www.eunita.org – potential for OER able to match tandem peers transnationally, with an institutional status – project ends in April 2018
  • Online magazine: The Language Express – student-led, showcase, sense of community. Chief editor: FL assistant
  • www.thelanguageexpress.co.uk
  • Students need to see that their language skills are valuable assets/expertise – how it links to employability and graduate skills

The Global Graduate – languages and employability. Caroline Campbell and Dr Karen Llewellyn (University of Leeds)

  • LITE project
  • Leeds curriculum context
  • Value of language skills
  • Student and employer perceptions
  • Employability
  • Kucharvy’s T-shaped professional
  • Report towards end of March
  • Bovill and Bulley, 2011 – ladder of student participation
  • deliveringresults.leeds.ac.uk – good project management practice
  • Employers expect that students have already built a (professional) brand: social capital as well as knowledge
  • Rounded transnational graduate
  • Not so much about language skills but skills that have been developed because of language learning
  • How to make students aware of need to reflect on skills, experience and how to articulate these
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Life in the UK

I have spent most of September and October reading and re-reading the same book, Life in the United Kingdom: A Guide For New Residents. My house and handbag were littered with flashcards and post-it notes full of facts and figures, I bored everyone around me with facts and questions about the corn laws, James I and VI, Henry VIII’s wives, the devolved admininstrations, etc. – and yes, I passed the test. Compared to other exams I have taken so far in my life, this one feels like the one that makes me most proud. Weird, no? Some of the information I gained has been valuable (did you know they still have sheriffs?!), and I can’t wait to visit the National Civil War Centre!

Also, it was interesting to find out how much of the information and knowledge required for the UK citizenship test British citizens have actually learnt at school or in everyday life. As a language practitioner I also found it fascinating to see how the information was presented in the literature designed to prepare me for the test – it took me a while to get my head around the structure of the book, to be honest.

In the end I have become quite fond of the – now very tattered and marked – book… and I don’t just say it because I don’t have to read it again. If you want to see some sample questions, have a look at https://lifeintheuktests.co.uk/life-in-the-uk-test.

[By the way, I did okay on the German citizenship (practice) test as well, you’ll be glad to hear. The German education system has served me well.]

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#uklcchat no more

Today’s #uklcchat is finished and take-up has been very low again, so this trial will come to an end (background).

It has been an interesting experience to set this up and there may be things that could have been done differently, especially in regards to marketing. Also, I wonder if the needs I tried to address with this are already covered elsewhere, for example as part of AULC activities. By the way, AULC now has a Twitter account (well done!), so get involved with that if you can.

Thanks to those who have taken part in #uklcchat and those who may have followed proceedings without getting involved further. There are many other great chats to join, so find the ones that suit you and enjoy! 🙂

Here’s a picture of a half-eaten pie to illustrate the joy of potentially half-baked ideas 😉

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Reading 2017

Now the darker nights are coming, I have taken stock of what I have read so far this year… and it turns out that 2017 has so far been a year of primarily reading popular (and what some might call ‘trash’) fiction.

The thread that weaves itself through the year so far is the series called Rutshire Chronicles, by Jilly Cooper. Nearly everyone I told I was reading these told me that they had read them as a teenager, either giving me funny looks or being very enthusiastic, wanting to share who their favourite characters are. I am glad that I read these: I learned some new words (Well, I say “learned” – I have a list of words I didn’t know before and can’t remember now), I learned what a regard ring is (and, as part of research, also what an adore ring is), and I was entertained by (most of) the stories.

I also read some Jerry Cotton novels, some books by Jeffrey Archer, some detectives novels I have picked up in pubs, and some books on information behaviour and mentoring. And as in previous years, Goodreads has been an invaluable tool to keep track of my reading. Some of the reviews have also helped when I was unsure whether to give up on a book or stick with it for a few more pages. (Generally, give up when it’s boring. It’s unlikely to get better.)

My to-read list has nine books on it at the moment, which should get me through the rest of the year, but any recommendations are welcome!

Featured Image -- 3915

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First #uklcchat – summary

Access the first #uklcchat Storify by clicking here.

And the agenda for the next #uklcchat on 11 October.


Here’s a bowl of apples to illustrate new bright-eyed beginnings

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23 Things for Information Skills

OK, so there’s a new “23 Things” blog on my radar and in my diary: Rudaí 23. The course starts on 9 September and is – like most other 23 things programmes – self-directed.

I am looking forward to learning about new tools and reflecting on my own professional practice, while finding out a bit more about librarians in Ireland. And it may also encourage me to blog more often, especially now that the nights are becoming longer (but that might just mean more sleep).

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First #uklcchat on Twitter


#uklcchat is planned to take place every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 14:00 to 15:00 UK time.


#uklcchat is aimed at those who work in University Language Centres, such as language practitioners, teachers, librarians and administrators, and anyone else who is interested, and will be shaped by those who participate in the chat.

It is modelled on existing Twitter chats, such as #eltchat and #uklibchat. As it is early days I haven’t set up a designated Twitter account or website, but may do so in the future. This idea will be initially explored until Christmas and then I (we?) can decide whether it’s worth carrying on in the new year. So if you don’t take part, it’ll disappear again.

Don’t have a Twitter account?

Find instructions and support on how to set one up at https://support.twitter.com/articles/100990#.

How to take part?

To join in you just follow the hashtag #uklcchat.  Anything you tag with #uklcchat will be part of the conversation.


Tweet example

How does it work?

  1. One of the moderators (initially: me) will put up a blog post or tweet asking people who follow #uklcchat to propose topics for the next chat. Suggestions can then be added to a Google document, meaning that people can go to the document and suggest topics there.
  2. Once the next chat topic has been decided, an agenda will be published as a Google document that people can add to. (Re decisions on topics: do you want a poll or do you want moderators to decide? Please comment below.)
  3. On the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 14:00 to 15:00 UK time, the chat will take place live on Twitter.
  4. Participants are welcome to collate the chat themselves, blog about ideas, etc.


Here is the link to the document where you can add suggested questions for the first chat on marketing and promotion.

For now, future dates and information can be found on the page “About #uklcchat“.

Get involved further?

If you would like to get involved in development and moderation of this Twitter chat, please get in touch with Carolin @bumsonseats.

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To #uklcchat or not to chat?

Inspired by the successful #uklibchat, a discussion group for librarians (and others who are interested) that takes place on Twitter, I would like to propose a lunchtime Twitter chat for those who work in University Language Centres, such as language practitioners, teachers, librarians and administrators, and anyone else who is interested. To group chat responses I propose that we use the hashtag #uklcchat.

I suggest that chat topics are proposed by participants. An openly available agenda can then be created in advance of the chat and people can add things they would like to discuss. I think I’d need some helpers to do some admin and moderate chats, so contact me if you are interested in getting this up and running!

Please suggest topics and convenient times in the comments section or on the “Topics” document on Google Drive.

(PS. I’d also love to run a Language Centre unconference, so let’s plan that as well, while we are at it! ;))

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