IndyLan Newsletter – July 2021

IndyLan Newsletter – July 2021

Welcome to the third newsletter of our Erasmus+ project Mobile Virtual Learning for Indigenous Languages (IndyLan).

The 26-month project (2019-2021) is led by Heriot-Watt University and the Coordinator is Dr Katerina Strani from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies. The project includes the following 5 partners from 4 countries (UK, Finland, Norway and Spain):

The IndyLan project is developing a mobile application that will help speakers of English, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish to learn Gaelic, Scots, Cornish, Basque, Galician and Saami, all endangered at different degrees.  Our project’s educational tool is designed specifically for users to help them learn not only some of Europe’s endangered languages but also more about the cultures of the people who speak these languages.

The tool constitutes a gamified language-learning solution that will contain around 4,000 vocabulary items (both terms and expressions) in about 100 categories. The modes that will be available in the application are: Vocabulary; Phrases; Dialogues; Grammar; Aural Comprehension; Culture. 

Our vision is for the IndyLan app to contribute to endangered language learning and revitalisation so that these languages remain alive and relevant in contemporary societies and economies. 

Our project website is available in 11 languages. It has a dedicated section on the languages and people of the IndyLan app, with videos and resources. On our website you can also find news and updates, as well as a list of our downloadable outputs.

News and updates

Covid-19 impact on our project

We have continued to work remotely in the past year and held all meetings online. Since our last newsletter in June 2020, we met online three times: in September 2020, in December 2020 and in March 2021, which would have been our third official project meeting in Bilbao. The official project meeting took place on 23rd March 2021 on Zoom. During this meeting, we discussed progress with Intellectual Output 2 (the app in beta version), internal and external evaluations of our intellectual outputs and dissemination activities. We also started preparations for Intellectual Output 3, the pilot testing phrase, and revised the timeline for the finalisation of the app content.

Partners met online for the 3rd official project meeting in March 2021

Our initial plan was to have the app ready in beta version in April and to launch it in June. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in some unforeseen delays, with reduced capacity across the project team. We are now aiming to start the app testing in August and to launch the app officially in September.

We will keep you posted !

You will also be invited to our local and international dissemination events in the Autumn – details will be available in due course.

Sneak peek at the app

Partners have completed the translation of about 4,000 vocabulary items, as well as phrases and dialogues, grammar exercises, culture tabs and various types of exercises for each language. This was no easy task, as there were many untranslatable terms (there are no words for ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in Cornish), terms with complicated translations (‘to own something’ in Gaelic) and other terms with more than one translations (see snow terminology in Sámi).

We are now finalising the app backend and are testing the app internally. Here are some screenshots !

Dissemination and events

Áile Javo, the Secretary General of the Saami Council, one of the project partners, presented the project at an UNESCO -led event on Indigenous Languages in January:

#ArcticConnections – Indigenous Languages: Thriving in a Digital Age – YouTube

Katerina Strani, the project coordinator, presented the project in her talk ‘Language and Communities: Present and future Scottish-Arctic collaborations’, at the Scotland-Arctic Network Series: Engaging Local and Indigenous Communities event, in March: 

Heriot-Watt’s biannual Intercultural Research Centre Symposium was held in May, and this year it included an online celebration in the form of a cèilidh. This included performances by Steve Byrne, who is working on the project, Meg Bateman, Niillas Holmberg, Brian Ó hEadhra and Fionnaig Nic Choinnich.

If you missed it, you can read about it here: Intercultural Research Centre Symposium and Ceilidh 2021 | LifeinLINCS 

Steve Byrne performing at the Intercultural Research Centre Symposium ceilidh

This year’s Speak Cornish week events were held online, and our project engaged with some activities on Twitter. Meur ras Kernow ! (=thank you, Cornwall)

Next steps:

  • The internal testing and  backend finalisation will be completed in the next few weeks.
  • The testing phase, which constitutes Intellectual Output 3, will begin in August.
  • Intellectual Output 3 will be the pilot testing of the app which will be carried out by remote users as well as participants in our multiplier events in all partner countries in the summer of 2021.
  • The app is scheduled to be launched at the Final Dissemination Conference in Cornwall in the autumn 2021.

The app will be available for download globally for free in both iOS and Android. Like all language-learning apps, IndyLan is complementary to other language- and culture courses and can be considered to be part of self-study material.

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