The University of Westminster is one of ten partners from four European countries currently collaborating in an exciting strategic partnership project, ‘The Language Magician’, being led by the Goethe-Institut London and supported by the EU under the Erasmus + programme.  

The project aims to support the learning and teaching of languages at primary school level with the main aim being to develop a computer game, titled ‘The Language Magician,’ that can be used in primary schools as an online assessment tool. The project started in October 2015 in the UK and the project partners are: Goethe-Institut London, Association for Language Learning, Spanish Embassy Education Office in the UK, Education Ministry Rioja, Teachers Training Centre of the Education Ministry in Tenerife, Leipzig University, University of Reading, University for Foreigners Perugia, University for Foreigners Siena and University of Westminster.

A lot has been achieved since the project got underway, including the development of a story-line involving an evil magician living in a dark castle who kidnaps animals from a local farm. The player (the pupils) has to try to get them back by completing a series of reading, writing and listening tasks which are presented to the pupils as a quest through different floors of the evil magician’s tower. The pupils are young magicians themselves and can only save the animals by knowing the foreign language spells and solutions to the tasks. In the first round, Spanish, German and English were chosen to be tested – English in Germany and Spain and Spanish and German in the UK. Italian and French in the UK as well as English in Italy will follow in 2017. The piloting of the English, German and Spanish versions is soon to get underway.

In addition, a digital questionnaire has been developed which will be used by four universities doing research in the project. The research topics include questions about language skills and teaching methods, motivation of pupils, comparison of results from groups in different countries and finding out about the quality of the game’s digital approach. Answers are expected from more than 2.800 pupils in four countries.

On 26 September and the European Day of Languages, all project partners came together at the Goethe-Institut for the first official presentation of game that is still password protected. Partners had the opportunity to play the game in English, German and Spanish. The Language Magician online assessment tool will be available from summer 2018. Interested in finding out more? Have a look at the Language Magician website at https://www.thelanguagemagician.net.

Author: Domini Stone, Network for Languages London