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Alex Somervell (right) graduated with a first class degree in International Relations and Languages.

Exeter graduate start-up to revolutionise language learning

A University of Exeter graduate has devised a technique that could revolutionise language learning for children by making it as easy as reading a story.

Alex Somervell, who graduated with a first class degree in International Relations and Languages, received a grant of £4,000 from the Think: Try: Do Student Start-up Support Programme to set up a project called One Third Stories, which creates bedtime stories in the form of a book and app that starts in English and ends in a different language by gradually introducing words in the target language.

The Clockwork Methodology® which underpins One Third Stories was developed by Alex in collaboration with his friend and partner Jonny Pryn as a graduate business start-up project. One Third Stories recently ran its first campaign to get contributors to the project and received 1,522 entries from children in 38 schools up and down the country.

Alex said: "We aren’t doing the fun part by ourselves, we are harnessing the creative power of children who are giving us their ideas for what happens in the story, receiving official acknowledgement as ‘collaborators’ in the book.

“Although we are targeting parents specifically with our story, we are very aware of the importance of schools and our first campaign helped us start engaging with schools and teachers who have been really helpful in understanding the educational needs. Following the product launch we hope to provide schools with a free language learning platform, suitable for non-specialists (over half of teachers who teach languages in primary are non-specialists) where they can create stories and engage children in languages."

The One Third team are currently working on the launch of a Kickstarter platform, so that they can develop a hardback book using images developed from primary school alongside an accompanying app.

Alex added: “Not only will those who pledge to help receive the One Third book and app at a cheaper price, also the knowledge that they are changing the future of language learning.”

For more information on getting involved visit the One Third website.

Date: 17 May 2016

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