The University (#3): Mark Critchley, Durham

“I have been supportive of Chatterbox since their inception in 2016, and we have supported our students of Arabic language at Durham University through the Chatterbox tutor system since 2017.  As Director of the Centre for Foreign Language Study at Durham, I am responsible for delivery of our institution-wide language programme, where we have (mostly) undergraduate students take our language courses as elective modules alongside their main degree (Engineering, English Studies, Economics etc.).  I am firmly in favour of the values and approach that Chatterbox use in identifying their tutors. Our students have found their Chatterbox tutors to be professional, highly competent, knowledgeable and friendly. We use the tutoring to provide supplementary skills practice for our students, not directly linked to our teaching curriculum, but certainly complementary.  We find our students benefit greatly in terms of productive skills in particular, and we see a definite improvement in students’ confidence levels, and performance in oral assessments. Participation and performance levels have definitely improved as a result. The feedback from the students themselves in excellent, and we expect to see a greater level of progression from students who have used the Chatterbox service returning for more advanced Arabic courses in subsequent years, especially from Beginners courses. The students also appreciate the ability to learn something of the background of the tutors, increasing their appreciation of the Arab World in particular, and a deeper awareness and understanding of Arabic culture in general.”

Mark Critchley is Director of the Centre for Foreign Language Study at Durham University, UK.