New app is a recipe for success

Newcastle University experts have cooked up a new app to help people learn languages.

Linguacuisine uses cookery to help make learning a new language easier. Using a smartphone or tablet, learners follow a recipe in a different language. The web-based app uses video, photographs and written instructions to help the budding chef make a dish.

Developed by researchers in Newcastle University’s School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences and School of Computing‘s Openlab, users can choose from a wide range of recipes including cola fried chicken, kimchi pancakes and jam in 10 languages including English, Greek, Spanish and Italian.

“They may seem like unrelated pastimes,” says Paul Seedhouse, Professor of Educational and Applied Linguistics at Newcastle University. “But following a recipe brings a new language to life for a student or learner, rather than being something they learn by just sitting in a classroom.”

And as well as following recipes, users can upload their own by making short videos on their phone or tablet. The app and its accompanying website have been developed with the North East charity Action Foundation, which works with asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in the region. Members of the Workers Educational Association (WEA) have also been making videos and uploading recipes.

Among those involved in trialling the project is Wakanda Pouo, whose recipe of baked dish of eggs, chicken, bacon and vegetables is based on an African meal.

Wakanda, whose first language is French, said: “This is a great idea and I’ve liked being involved. I’ve also enjoyed adding my own recipe so people can try something different. People who first come to this country may feel nervous about trying to speak English if they only know a little, so the app gives them a way to try it out by themselves.”

Other recipes, including one for Geordie Jam, use a strong regional accent in the video to help people whose first language is not English, get used to the way North Easterners speak.

The Linguacuisine app builds upon the success of the University’s digital kitchen, which used similar principles to help students learn languages.

Newcastle University PhD student Jaeuk Park from South Korea researched the digital kitchen as part of his studies and has contributed to the new app with recipes for kimchi pancakes and fried tofu. He says using the app is helping to expand his vocabulary. “It’s helped me to learn new words,” he says. “And that’s because of the physical action used in preparing the food, it helps you to remember. I made English scones and learned the word for sieve, which is something I had never heard of before.”

Professor Seedhouse said: The digital kitchen works well but it can only stay in one place. The app has the same principles but makes it accessible to anyone with access to a tablet or smartphone –it’s the digital kitchen in your pocket.”

Linguacuisine is a collaboration between Newcastle University, Action Foundation (UK), Hellenic Open University (Greece), Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia (Italy) and the Workers’ Educational Association (UK). It is funded by an Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic Partnership grant of €324K.

The Linguacuisine app is available free for all devices and can be found here. It will be available on the Apple and Android app stores in the future.

About Newcastle University:

Newcastle University, UK, is a thriving international community of some 27,750 students from over 130 countries worldwide.  As a member of the Russell Group of research intensive universities in the UK, Newcastle has a world-class reputation for research excellence in the fields of medicine, science and engineering, social sciences and the humanities. The Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF) placed Newcastle University 16th in the UK for Research Power and most of our research (78%) were assessed to be world-leading or internationally excellent. Newcastle University is honored with a Gold Award – in the Teaching Excellence Framework and is known for research-led teaching delivered by dedicated and passionate teachers (TEF).

Newcastle University is also ranked:

  • 1st in the UK for Computing Science research impact, 3rd in the UK for Civil Engineering research power and 11th in the UK for Mathematical Sciences research.
  • 3rd in the UK for English, and in the top 12 for Geography, Architecture, and Planning, and Cultural and Media Studies research quality
  • 4th amongst UK medical schools for Clinical Medicine research intensity

Newcastle University is also among the top 20 universities in the country for careers prospects in the UK, 95% of its 2016 UK/EU graduates entered employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015/16).

For more information, please visit Newcastle University, UK website: