The Linguist

The Linguist 59,3 - June/July 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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FUN FOR LEARNERS Examples of gameplay from The Language Magician (above and below) 26 The Linguist Vol/59 No/3 2020 FEATURES How a gaming app is providing motivational assessment for language learners in primary schools. By Lorna Price M ore and more countries are introducing language learning in primary school. One of the reasons behind that move is to promote positive attitudes to language learning at an early age. But while research suggests that motivation for language learning is generally high among young learners, there is still room for improvement. Suzanne Graham et al found that instilling in learners a sense of progress is very important for motivation, both in primary school and as they move into secondary school. 1 Their findings have been a key underpinning for the Goethe-Institut's new tool: The Language Magician. Assessment, if of a formative, diagnostic kind, could give learners that crucial sense of progress when approached in the right way. Language assessment that is constructive and maintains the motivation of learners is not, however, necessarily easy within classroom-based early language education. Reporting on their 2019 research on The Language Magician, 2 Louise Courtney and Suzanne Graham state that there is a need to employ assessment methods which, as well as being viable and reliable for a range of learners, protect rather than diminish motivation. That goal is especially important in the UK, where declining numbers are opting for GSCE and A-level languages. 3 In March 2018, after three years of continuous development, The Language Magician – an educational videogame project produced by the Goethe-Institut London in strategic partnership with nine partners in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain – was launched. The scope of this Erasmus+ project was to create a free assessment tool that would provide diagnostic information on pupils' language proficiency in the areas of vocabulary, listening, reading comprehension and writing, without them noticing that they were being tested, and at the same time engage them and let them have fun learning foreign languages. Versions were created in English, German, Italian, Spanish and French. The storyline of the game centres on a young magician striving to liberate his animal friends from the curse of the evil magician Winivil, who has transformed them into doorknockers. Learners can free the animals when they A magic wand for schools?

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