A Magical Tweak – Integrating THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN into Lessons

25. February 2019

Feedback from teachers and young language learners on THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN game since its launch has been excellent with teachers reporting great engagement and motivation – the fact that this arises from an Assessment Tool is great news!

The Project Team has now completed its work, of course, but still remains interested in Winivil, the Avatar, the lives of the animals … and the achievements and experiences of learners and their teachers.

Many echo the words of a British teacher who says: ‘The only thing is that the children keep coming back to me to ask if they can play it again, which, of course, is not the plan.’ Indeed the design of the game is that it should be played only at selected points, to register the progression that children have made in their learning between times.

There are already additional materials on the website (under the tab called RESOURCES) for teachers to use selectively in lessons at times when they are not playing the game itself. Some of these are designed to develop specific skills or gaps to help pupils do better next time they play the game, and some are more general ideas for communicative activities that fit with the ethos and the look and feel of the game itself – its storyline and characters.

These are the sorts of activity that are the focus for our new tweaking challenge!

What is a tweak? If we look at the activity 3 in Classroom Resources Module 3 we see a game which language teachers have played for generations – in English it is called ‘I went to market and I bought …’ – a vocabulary memory-building activity. To make it fit into the TLM universe the words have simply been tweaked to say ‘I made a potion and I put in …’ but it is still the same game, with the same learning intentions, and additionally it has the advantage that you are not limited to fruit and vegetables! You can put very random things into a potion, and so pupils can revisit a lot of different sorts of vocabulary in a single game!

As more schools are now starting to use the game, the Project Team has decided to suggest that teachers might consider including references to TLM at points throughout the school year, after the first experience of playing – just to build on the children’s interest and exploit that motivation to take them forward. So, when children ask ‘Can we play TLM again?’ teachers can bring out an activity which looks like TLM and serves their learning purposes – things like the ‘I made a potion …’ game. (More are included in Classroom Activities.)

What games and activities you use regularly in the classroom could you tweak to make them align with the TLM universe and build on children’s interest?

These are what we would like teachers to share with each other in our new areas of Shared Resources; members of the TLM team are already working on ideas – some short activities and some a bit longer – and planning where these could be hosted online for all to share for the benefit of children learning languages.

Creating reminders of playing the TLM game might be as simple as putting on screen, or on the wall, from time to time an image from the game – e,g. the logo with all the animals surrounding Winivil, and revising the names of the animals (vocabulary), or asking what personalities the animals have (adjectives) or asking for ideas of what the animals like to eat or drink (sentence-building)  etc. to match the latest theme you are exploring or introducing.  In that way the class is reminded of the imagery from the game and will start to look forward to playing again in the future. There is already a Wanted poster of Winivil in the Manual which teachers could use in this way to signal they are going to do a ‘magical’ activity.

Teachers may also , on relevant occasions, go to the LANGUAGE MAGICIAN singalong songs on the website in order to encourage children to join in the song in the language they are learning (or to challenge them to join in with a song in a different language).  It may be that children could sing the song at a school event (a concert?) or a parents’ meeting.

Here is part of a contribution (soon to be shared) on how to use the (French) song:

The song can be used flexibly, as teachers wish, but here are some suggestions of a teaching sequence in French. These steps might well be spread over a number of lessons. You can choose and adapt the tasks of course, and do not need to do all of them if you do not have time. They lead towards a class performance that might happen at a parents’ evening, in a concert, at a school assembly or at a special event such as European Day of Languages.

  1. Play the song in the language of your classroom to introduce the tune.

Ask pupils to join in with the tune and lyrics.

  1. Use the TLM graphic to introduce the key vocabulary of the song in French , i.e. firstly the question: Où est …? (Where is …?)

And the names of the animals, etc. (Listen to / Play the song in French with pauses to focus on pronunciation.)

The words are:

Les animaux, la girafe, la souris, le cheval, le crocodile, le lapin, le chien, l’éléphant, le chapeau, le magicien

You might like to add a level of interaction by using sign language for reinforcing / practising the vocabulary. A good video BSL (British Sign Language) dictionary (containing all of these words) is here : https://www.signbsl.com/

Some teachers prefer to ask pupils to invent their own action for each animal /word.

There are five more steps in this sequence – which will be published soon.


The Project Team has heard already of teachers who are making resources from their own ideas inspired by THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN. We know that Language teachers are very generous in sharing ideas and resources and we are planning to ask our many partners to support teachers by creating online areas (for the different Project languages) where colleagues can post their ideas and examples of resources in order to support and inspire each other – some are ready and listed below.

For example one teacher has commissioned from a maker this puppet of Winivil, to use when telling stories or  doing roleplays in class:

TLM Team members have started to write short plays based on the characters of the game, for pupils to perform! and stories for them to follow and interact with … we hope that all of these contributions will be translated in time.

We know that individual classes will have different language experience and knowledge and hope that teachers will adapt the texts accordingly; people who contribute to the TLM shared resources retain, of course, the copyright of their original idea. All contributions are offered in the spirit of professional collegiality and are not for commercial use.

Here is an example from a play by TLM team member Steven Fawkes: Scene 1

You’ll have to wait for Scene 2 !

Here is an example in German from TLM team member Roma Schultz: Scene 1 – German

How will the animals defeat the evil spell? Wait and see!

We hope to inspire magical creations that are useful and enjoyable in classrooms wherever THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN  appears!

Details of how to contribute your own ideas and where to find contributions in different languages will be published under the section RESOURCES/SHARED RESOURCES .

In the meantime if you wish to contribute something, make a suggestion or ask about the contributions described above please contact Steven Fawkes.


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