Make a Video in Mauriac – en francais! 1-3 December 2016

September 23, 2016


A chance to visit a French community with an established partnership with learners of French in Derby.  We will visit the town of Mauriac and create a video together in the French language.

Who for?
This is open to anyone who wants to practise their French at any level. For example current or previous members of French classes and their families and friends.

What will I get from participating?
This  experience will give you a 48 hours experience in an authentic French environment.  You can practise your existing French and learn new phrases.

The trip will leave East Midlands Airport Thursday  1 December and return to East Midlands  Saturday 3 December.

How much does it cost?
The visit is run as an event coordinated but not organised by Alastair Clark. This is not an official event of Derby City Council.  We estimate that costs will be about £220 per person see below.

What are the other costs?
Participants will also be responsible for meals and for travel insurance.

How does it work?
Initially you confirm your commitment to participate with a message to Alastair Clark (see below). Once we are sure that we have a minimum number of participants this will be confirmed and you will book your own flights directly with Ryanair.  Hotel bookings and local transport will then be reserved by Alastair Clark and you will be asked to pay on arrival.

How many ?
The group from Derby  will be between 6 and 10 participants and we will work with a similar group in Mauriac.


Once you have a confirmed place then book your flights with


THURS 1 December

Flight FR1632
East Midlands  18.40  CHANGED TIMES
Limoges 21.20


Saturday 3 December
Flight FR1633

Limoges   16.20
East Midlands  17.00

Recommendations to keep price low:
1) Last trip everyone managed with cabin baggage so did not pay for a bag in the hold
2)  The web site will try to encourage you to pay to book a seat. This is your choice but it is cheaper if you accept a random seat (its is a short flight) 
3) However, you should have some travel insurance for this trip. (If flights are cancelled Ryanair will pay the very minimum.) We can discuss this at the briefing meeting. 


REVISED Draft Programme (following Ryan Air change) 

Thursday 1 December –
17.00  Meet East Midlands Airport and take 18.40 flight to Limoges CHANGED

21.20 Arrive Limoges CHANGED


22.00 Hotel at Limoges  CHANGED

Friday 2 December
10.00- meet partner group at ruins of Monastery  and discuss video project

12.30- – lunch

14.00- 16.00 – complete film.

16.00- free time.

19.30 evening meal.

Saturday 3 December

9.30 depart Mauriac

10.30 mid morning stop en route – Cheyssac and view Chateau de Val.

14.30 arrive airport

16.20 Flight

17.00  arrive East Midlands airport.


How to confirm your interest?

email or text or call 07847417027

Also please contact Alastair for any queries.



Price estimates

1 December  

East Mids 7.20

Limoges  10.05

Ryanair price

(no cabin baggage)



1 December Hire car

Renault scenic    6 seats £300


Fuel / head


£ 60




1 December Hotel – Mauriac

(Single room price – lower cost if sharing)


2 December Hotel – Mauriac

(Single room price – lower cost if sharing)

3 December Limoges 15.50

East Midlands 16.30



Ryanair price
(No cabin baggage)
£229  plus food.



Where do you stand on kilts?

July 9, 2016

Hi Alastair,

Just a note to keep you updated. I retired from Teesside Uni last year. However, as I can’t get by on a pension of £96 per month I’m freelancing including some consultancy for the Uni itself. My leaflet is attached. Please forward to all and sundry ( a well-known firm of solicitors)

On another front entirely I have come OUT of retirement – see my second attachment.

Steve Thompson
Digital Consultant


Video collaboration Derby / Mauriac Projet – Partage

July 6, 2016


Ce projet a duré de Janvier – Juin 2016. Un groupe d’adultes qui apprennent le français à Derby créé une courte vidéo en français sur Derby. Un groupe d’adultes qui apprennent des compétences en vidéo à Mauriac, France, a créé une vidéo en français sur Mauriac . Le résultat: Beaucoup d’apprentissage Relation amicale Un désir d’ en savoir plus . Aussi …. deux superbes vidéos


Le résultat:

  • Beaucoup d’apprentissage
  • Relation amicale
  • Un désir d’ en savoir plus .
  • Aussi …. deux superbes vidéos .

This project ran from January – JUne 2016. A group of adults who were learning French in Derby created a short video in French about Derby. A group of adults who were learning video skills in Mauriac, France, created a video in French about Mauriac.


The result:

  • Lots of learning
  • Friendship
  • A desire to learn more.
  • Also…. two great videos


Bienvenue a Mauriac

Mauriac+CC from alastair clark on Vimeo.



Bienvenue a Derby

Bienvenue-a-DerbyV6 from alastair clark on Vimeo.



MOOC helps me Understand Language !

May 1, 2016

I was really please to complete  the four week MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)  on Understanding  Language.

Run by University of Southampton and the British Council using the Futurelearn platform I found the four weeks of study really did get my brain-box working!



I was interested to improve my own practice as a teacher of French and to help my own attempts to improve my German and Italian.

So what did I take away? Well quite a lot confirmed stuff I was aware of but maybe had not considered so seriously until now.

  • Language is about meaning not words.  I always have learners who seek the security of a word for word translation of idiomatic English phrases. I will make more of this notion of meaning in future
  •  Classroom culture is vital. I always seek to create a fun and relaxed atmosphere but one video input did suggest that there would be ‘no gain without pain’ ! I rather resented this notion but on reading a bit more from Prof Dylan Wiliam (outside of the MOOC) I am convinced of the value of creating ‘desirable difficulty’ .     MY learners can expect me to introduce this notion in discussion (en francais bien sur)
  • Naturalistic and formal language learning.  This was a division  which seemed obvious but of course the real message is to use target language throughout the formal lesson and you get ‘naturalistic’ learning as a superb bonus.


  • A whole week was devoted to technology in teaching and some useful tools and techniques were shared.  Of course I warmed to this but did feel that the only course failing was their use of video which was patchy – some excellent well thought-out presentations but others where I just fast-forwarded the ramblings.


Now the last week! Well here we looked at English. Well I hadn’t come on the course to look at English. I neither teach or learn it.  Discussions focussed on the development of English as a Lingua Franca   (ELF) and if this is seen as a different learning goal from English to be used with native speakers then maybe ELF does not require anglophone cultural context or native English teachers. As a  non native speaker who teachers French I can sort of see the issues raised here but frankly they were of passing interest and not central to my work. The ELF issue that does impact on my work  is the  discourse that heads for the linguistic black hole of:  ‘ they all speak English anyway’ .

The best bit: Well it was the forums. There were some great discussions – I enjoyed learning from other learners,



Bienvenue á Derby

April 7, 2016

Un projet video d’une classe de francais adultes a Derby janvier – avril 2016

Bienvenue-a-DerbyV6 from alastair clark on Vimeo.
Licence Creative Commons
Bienvenie á Derby de La classe de Mardi Soir est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

March to Limoges

January 14, 2016

March to Limoges
A short stay in Limoges France . A chance to experience the capital of the Limousin and practise some French .


This is NOT an official adult education trip but an informal group visit to France which will support your learning. Open to current and past learners of French and their friends.


The plan:

Thursday 17 March –

11.00 Meet East Midlands Airport
13.10 Depart East Midlands on Flight Ryanair FR 1632

15.50 arrive Limoges airport and take shared taxi to Hotel de la Paix
17.00 approx – arrive at hotel and check in.

18.30 Short walking tour of Limoges

19.30 Meal in restaurant together.

21.00 return to hotel free time.


Friday 18 March
8.00 Breakfast
9.30 joint cultural visit (TBC but associated with history of Limoges and ceramic industry)
11.30 Free time and project groups set off to:   find lunch venue for each group, undertake research project to present to others.
16.00 all groups meet to share experiences at location near to hotel.
19.30 group joint meal.
21.00 return to hotel

Saturday 19 March

8.00 Breakfast
9.00 individual visits based on recommendations from feedback from resrach groups.
13.00 Rendez vous at Hotel and taxi to airport.
13.50 arrive airport. Take flight Ryanair FR 1633
15.50 take off
16.30 return to East Midlands airport.

More details    07847417027

Estimated costs

At time of writing retun fare with Ryanair is 55 Pounds (this may change)


90 pounds for a double room for two nights (Double bed)
111 pounds for two nights in a twin room
Cost of cultural visit   about 10 Pounds

Other costs

Amount on shared taxis   approx 20 pounds
Two evening meals approx 70 pounds
Two lunches approx 20 pounds


Incidentals and drinks are at your discretion.

Example costs:

Travel alone with single occupancy: 265 pounds pp
One person sharing a twin room: 230 pounds   pp
A couple sharing douible room.   330 pounds total (165 pp)


Good advice

Bring an EU medical card
Ensure that you have adequate travel insurance.

You will need cash and for this you can change money in advance but also you can take cash from ATMs in France using your debit card

Digital Student Project

December 6, 2015

Your opinion matters! 

 Here is an opportunity for you as an adult learner to have your voice heard in a national survey.  The survey team are arranging a number of face- to-face focus groups of up to ten learners  which will last about an hour and a half .

This is part of a survey of all sectors of post school learning and it is important that the voice of adult learners is heard!

You will be made most welcome and all views will be valued and will contribute to the study. Full details are set out below.

The following session is confirmed 
Monday 14 December    7.00 – 8.30
Village Learning Centre Browning Street, Derby DE23 8DN  01332 711371Location

If you wish to take park please contact alastair clark either by email OR by calling or texting 07847417027 >


Digital Student Project


You are being invited to take part in a research study supported by Jisc. Jisc is a registered charity working on behalf of UK higher education, further education and skills to champion the use of digital technologies. Before you decide whether or not to take part, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully.


What is the purpose of the study?

This project will investigate learners’ expectations and experiences of the digital world – online learning content and tools, including mobile devices and computers – in order to make recommendations on the services that could be provided to support learners’ use of technology. Phase 1 of the Digital Student project investigated the expectations students have of technology provision in higher education. Phase 2 extended these investigations to further education.  The current Phase 3 is looking at Adult / Community, work-based and Offender Learning by conducting desk research and consulting with staff and students. The project aims to assess the distinctive features of the experience of using technologies for learners in these sectors. The study will run from September 2015 to March 2016.


Why have I been invited to participate?

You have been asked to participate as a learner in Adult / Community, work-based, apprentice or Offender Learning


Do I have to take part?

  1. It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part. If you do decide to take part you will be given this information sheet to keep and be asked to sign a consent form. If you decide to take part you are still free to withdraw at any time and without giving a reason.


Choosing either to take part or not take part in the study will have no impact on your marks, assessments or future studies.


What will happen to me if I take part?

You will be invited to take part in a focus group discussion of about one hour involving a member of the research team and other students on your course at your normal place of study. This will be one of ten similar focus groups to be conducted for the study. This will be audio recorded to provide us with accurate records of what is said. Refreshments will be provided during the event. We will also ask you to complete a short profile form giving information about you and your class.


What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?

There is no risk to you beyond that involved in your normal learning. You are, however, being asked to give up about an hour of your time if you participate. If you wanted to contribute to follow-up events (see below) you would devote more time than that.


What are the possible benefits of taking part?

By participating in this study you will help us to develop and tell others about effective policies and recommendations for services that colleges or learning providers should offer in their digital learning provision. You may also gain some insights into how to better use technology in your own learning.


Will what I say in this study be kept confidential?

Yes, all information will be kept strictly confidential (subject to legal limitations). To do this, the researchers will remove names from the data before it is analysed. What this means is that your name and contact details will be kept in a separate, password-protected computer file from any data that you supply. This will only be able to be linked to your responses by the researchers, for example, in order to invite you to contribute to public follow-up events. We may, for instance, ask if we can write about your experiences as a learner to publish on Jisc’s website. This would take up no more than an hour of your time and it would be entirely up to you whether to accept or refuse the invitation. Or, we may invite you to take part in one or more of the national consultation events to be held with teaching staff in early 2016. These events would require a day of your time but your travel and expenses would be paid for you. Again, it is up to you whether you choose to accept or refuse such an invitation if it is offered.

In the final report, you will be referred to by a made-up name. We will remove any references to personal information that might allow someone to guess your identity.

What should I do if I want to take part?

A member of staff will publicise the date, time and place of the focus group meeting. You should attend the focus group meeting and sign a consent form and return it to the Digital Student researcher at the session.


What will happen to the results of the research study?

Reports of our findings will be presented at a series of national consultation events for teaching staff to be held in the period January – March 2016. These consultation events will contribute to developing recommendations for services that should be provided in the sectors. Reports used at these events will be publically available from the JISC Digital Student website at

We will also seek to present and publish findings from the research at conferences and in other academic arenas, including journals. These too will be announced on the JISC Digital Student website. We will provide copies of any such publications to participants in the study on request.

Who is organising and funding the research?

This study is funded by Jisc ( The research team consists of: Giles Pepler, Nick Jeans, Barry Phillips (Consultants in Learning Technology, Sero Consulting Limited, Sheffield Technology Park, Cooper Buildings, Arundel Street, Sheffield, S1 2NS) and Seb Schmoller (Independent Educational Consultant)



For further information about this project please contact Nick Jeans on, or +44 7733108468

Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Where do you stand on kilts?

December 5, 2015

Oh dear Alistair – am I missing something? I don’t recognise the name of the man and wonder if I am meant to? Or is he a local from Derbyshire?

A serious question indeed – is clothing a preserve of a cultural / ethnic identity?

And one which I imagine could vex any man who is not a Scot!

My thoughts???

Kilts are good…. men in kilts are good …. I like best the authenticity of a Scot in a kilt🙂


On 05/12/2015 06:05, Alastair Clark wrote:

The following short video is a light hearted response to a serious question
Your thoughts welcome

Where do you stand on kilts?

December 5, 2015

The following short video is a light hearted response to a serious question

Your thoughts welcome

The Naples of England’ – a book I enjoyed!

November 7, 2015

`The Naples of England’ Andy C Miller

I read this book while on a recent trip to France and  ‘The Naples of England’ transported me to the post war period in England’s South Coast resort of Weymouth following the author’s journey from childhood through adolescence towards adulthood.   This is more than Clitheroe  Kid meets Adrian Mole but I was reminded of both as I read through the very varied accounts of the young boy’s life.

Naples of England

Naples of England at Limoges airport

Miller tells us that a  ‘comfortable web of activity surrounded our lives at number 100 Purbeck Road’, but  in fact the book opens with a disturbing outburst as a neighbour suffers flashbacks to his treatment  at the hands of the  Japanese in a prisoner of war camp.  The rosy view of a happy childhood prevails and the hints at  grimmer adult realities are always seen from a distance and the  security and certainty of the Miller family hearth.

As I read on, I felt that I was being given privileged access  to some intimate memories of life in the close community of kids on the council estate  as well as a window on the glamour of the adjacent seaside resort with its deck chairs, amusements and shifting population.

Miller admits to both his naughtiness and his naivety and tells his story with a soupçon of nostalgia  which sets us up for an unsettling revelation.

On reading this book  I had learned about one family, a lot about a generation,  a little about Weymouth but nothing about Naples!  I was absorbed by the narrative and only as I finished did I return to the question I first asked myself:  ‘What makes Weymouth the Naples of England?’

This is a good personal story well told, but also a thoughtful reflection on the early life of a south coast Baby Boomer.

Naples of England available from Amazon