Modernize language teaching with technology – Lasswade High School, Scotland

Sanako language lab software installed to school computer classroom to modernise language teaching

The Principal Teacher of Modern Languages, James Poots, at Lasswade High School shares how their institution applies Sanako’s technology in language teaching to modernise their teaching approach.


Getting To Grips with Sanako Study Language Centre – Initial Impressions

Lasswade High School is a large (1500 pupils) co-educational, non-denominational secondary school in the small market-town of Bonnyrigg, Midlothian. We are about twenty minutes from Edinburgh city-centre. The school has a long history but we moved into our new building in 2013.

However, our association with Sanako predates the move by many years, though, when we moved we were asked what equipment we would like to have installed in our new classrooms, we went with the Sanako Lab 100 system, which served us well until we decided to upgrade to the software Sanako Study system in 2019. Lockdown interrupted our roll-out of the new system to our pupils considerably but we are now busy catching up on lost time. We are currently getting to grips with what the Sanako Study system can do. At present our French, German and Spanish teachers are sharing a class set of HP Probooks® and introducing our pupils to all the features the Sanako system offers.


Language lab installation picture


The response from pupils has so far been very positive; they have enjoyed using the vocab tests and the discussion functions. The ability to call for help discreetly is appreciated as are the ‘traffic lights’ and the quiz function. They have also had fun recording themselves speaking (although nobody ever seems to enjoy listening to themselves afterwards, or so they say).

From the teachers’ point of view, the ability to have pupils working in different groups simultaneously, doing different tasks is extremely useful and flexible. When it comes to listening, it is very convenient to be able to allow pupils to work at their own speed and differentiation of tasks is greatly simplified. Being able to add instructions, graphics and even subtitles increases the level of support that we are able to offer our learners. Additionally we are looking forward to using it to conduct speaking assessments later in the year, especially our National 5 and Higher Performances (speaking assessments).

Although we are in the early stages of using the equipment, it is already clear that the sharing of resources on the system is going to be straightforward. So successful has the introduction of Sanako Study been, that our Mandarin-teaching colleagues (Lasswade School is a Confucius Hub), will be investing a large part of their funding in acquiring a half-class set of Probooks® for use in their classes. This will give us the ability to have up to 45 pupils working simultaneously across the department (and I will not be surprised if the French, German and Spanish teachers request further investment in more Probooks®).


Student computers running with the Sanako Study system


The level of support that we have received from Sanako (Mr Binns and Mr Taylor in particular) have been second-to-none. All requests for support are dealt with very quickly, almost always on the same day. Mr Binns is no stranger to our school (He has visited us regularly, not just to demonstrate the system, but also to take part in Modern languages events designed to increase the number of pupils choosing to continue with languages) but being unable to come up and see us in person due to the ongoing pandemic, he has made himself available to support us via Zoom® sessions. These were an excellent supplement to the very good support offered online by the company.

We hope in the months ahead to be able to expand the range of functions available to us. In these uncertain times, if we are faced with school closures again and moving back to online learning, these will put us in a very strong position to be able to continue offering a high-quality educational experience for our young Modern Linguists. And if – fingers crossed – we are able to stay open, we will certainly be using the ability to set homework. We will for the first time be able to set work spoken work to be done at home and returned for assessment and feedback. We are particularly keen to begin using the voice-insert function to offer feedback in spoken form as we feel that pupils will find this to be a really user-friendly method. So, in summary, it’s been a major investment of time and resources for us so far but we feel that this equipment is going to make a big difference in terms of helping us increase uptake and improve attainment in Modern Languages and we would heartily recommend it to other schools considering joining the Sanako community.


But let’s have some of our pupils to have the last word:

  • I think using Sanako has been different and a fun way of learning and it’s easy and straightforward to use once you’re on.
  • I think it would be really good to use in the future and that lots of pupils would like using Sanako… and I would like to use it again.
  • Would be good for homework.
  • I like how it sends things automatically without you having to click anything. It was easy to get onto and figure out what to do with it. I like how you can also do voice recordings and listen to other people’s and hear other people with the headset on and you can communicate through Sanako and talk to each other.
  • I think Sanako helps me learn because you can listen to the words and that can help pronunciation.
  • I found it quite good and I liked doing it. I also found it quite useful that you get to practice your French literacy and accents as well. I didn’t find anything bad about it.
  • I think that Sanako is a good way to learn because using the website makes everything easy.
  • It’s useful. It’s easy and hard sometimes. It’s really good for tests and homework.


This article is written by Mr. James Poots, Principal Teacher Modern Languages, Lasswade High School.


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