THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN: THREE MAGICAL YEARS TOGETHER …and extraordinary milestones reached along the way
11. July 2018
This year marks the end of the Erasmus + project THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN. Only a few weeks separate us from August 2018, so let’s take a moment to look back at what happened since the beginning of the project and review the enchanting results we achieved.
Since the kick-off meeting in September 2015, a magical concoction started brewing: comparing educational syllabi, drafting tasks, defining word pools and, last but not least, designing THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN world and all its characters were the ingredients that set the foundation for the development of our game. The whole team put all the drive and the effort needed to stir this amazing potion and – abracadabra! – in 2016 the first versions of the game were ready to be tested! Piloting in schools started in October and, with the Italian version finalised in November 2016, the research team succeeded in testing the game with nearly 2000 pupils distributed in 40 schools over the four European countries involved in the project.
But the magic was just beginning, and 2017 might be remembered for being the richest of all three years. In fact, January marked the first public event where the team could present tangible results in research: with about a hundred attendees and all the TLM team contributing, the successful conference at the University of Leipzig gave an account of the first findings that researchers were able to discover with the data collected during the first run of piloting. The team also started working consistently on the dissemination strategy, thanks to the significant involvement of Steven Fawkes from ALL, who joined us for the first time in that occasion.
During the rest of 2017, each day was just like a little jigsaw tile adding to the bewitching riddle of THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN. The Westminster University started working on the French version of the game, while the rest of the team implemented the second level of TLM and arranged a second run of testing of Level 1 with the same pupils that took part in the previous piloting sessions. In July, improvements in the first level of the game and further scientific contributions were presented at the University for Foreigners of Siena during a colloquium that involved all the research team and the Goethe-Institut staff, and counted over 90 participants. Summer and autumn went on with other significant moments to be added to our cauldron, such as a very successful head teachers conference in Lardero, La Rioja (which registered an amazing 140 attendees), the finalisation of the French version of Level 1, the preparation of a speaking module and classroom resources, and the drafting of agreements for the continuation of our partnership. The tireless team of THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN, together with the software developers at Ovos, also found the time to add a special feature to the game: items were finally ready to be randomised, and Level 2 could now be tested in schools for one last piloting session. The final number of pupils who took part in the testing of the game therefore surprisingly reached over 5200 – the magic of languages worked wonders!
We just saw how 2017 was a year full of noteworthy events and concrete progress for the project, but something more was brewing… At the beginning of 2018, in fact, all efforts went towards the finalisation of the game and dissemination materials. The whole team was getting ready for the annual event organised by ALL in London, Language World, where on March 23rd our online game finally went public! The official launch sparked interest among the teachers, head teachers and educators who attended the event; workshops for both future trainers and teachers complemented this crucial moment for the TLM project and over 150,000 tweets and retweet contacts confirmed the success of THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN. You can read more about the event and its reception in this article written by Liz Black and Steven Fawkes from ALL.
However, launching the game to the public wasn’t the last important event in 2018. On May 19th, the University of Westminster in London hosted the final conference of our project – Assessment with a magic touch. A warm introduction by education counsellors of European Embassies in London and a keynote speech by Professor René Koglbauer opened the conference. The project partners then had the chance not only to present the latest research findings concerning the game piloting, but also to let the audience try the whole game for the first time and introduce the speaking module and educational materials in the five languages of the project to teachers from all over Europe. The event was closed with a magical culinary session of typical European dishes and, once again, its exceptional success was confirmed by the enthusiasm of the audience. You will find further information about the event in this article written by Domini Stone, University of Westminster, together with pictures and exclusive interviews.
And, finally, we arrived to summer 2018. Right now works are still in progress, with manuals and educational resources being translated, events being arranged and, most importantly, with high spirits towards the future of this incredible Erasmus + collaboration, which all partners are willing to keep operative.
Meanwhile, it’s time for a short summary of the goals that we reached during the last three, fruitful years: 11 partners, 4 countries involved, 2 levels of an exciting game in 5 languages that was tested by over 5200 primary school pupils, and a single Erasmus + project that so far reached nearly 1,300,000 people all over Europe. Hopefully, the spell cast by the Language Magician will help teachers and young learners of foreign languages tackle the challenge of language assessment in the funniest and easiest way!