About the Project
Perceptions on multilingualism in early childhood education are shifting. In the past the exposure of a child to two languages at the same time was considered a potential disadvantage; in fear of the child not being able to differentiate language structures. Emerging pedagogical theories however, argue that multilingualism positively affects a child’s cognitive development as a whole, resulting in children becoming more intellectually perceptive and flexible (Goethe Institut). Researchers further argue (Yip and Mathews, 2007) that multilingual skills development before the age of 6 may be related to more effective use of brain capacity for multiple language production by early bilinguals. Other research (Craik, Bialystok, Freedman, 2010) makes connections between lifelong bilingualism and increased cognitive reserve.
On a practical level, today’s children are exposed to languages other than their mother tongue in a natural way through sounds and images that are part of everyday life and their everyday environment. This takes place in a natural way through activities that include listening to music on the radio, following images on TV, viewing (if not yet reading) book texts, playing games, and more. In instructional settings a second language, such as English, is often introduced as early as in pre-school education, although often informally and beyond the requirements of formal school curricula. Second language learning is integrated into classroom activities such as drawing, singing, playing, and more. The development of language awareness and capacity in early childhood education can help learners to more effectively build language skills in subsequent school grades in primary education (Ford, 2010). It contributes to the widening of learning opportunities through access to rich multilingual content in diverse subjects. On the other hand, early language learning can positively contribute to the transition of multilingualism from pre-school to primary education and the building of functional language literacy.
LanguageGames aims at the development of multilingual skills in early childhood learning, spanning pre-primary and early primary education, in an active and experiential manner. The project takes current practices for language skill building a step further by exploiting emerging state-of-the-art serious games-enhanced learning frameworks adapted to the cognitive development level of young learners. The proposed active learning approach will immerse young learners in activities that take inspiration from real-life and familiar school practices offering benefits that include immediate feedback for scaffolding knowledge by better understanding mistakes, motivational factors in the form of game rewards, collaboration opportunities, and the development of problem-solving skills through puzzles. The proposed tools will be designed for classroom deployment, as opposed to standalone use, in the context of wider language learning activities thus enhancing existing school practices in language education. The serious game for language learning integrates age-appropriate, well accepted syllabic language learning methodologies that help youngsters build word recognition and reproduction capacity.
The proposed activities are validated in real-life contexts in pre-primary and early primary education classrooms in diverse school environments that span Romania, Greece, the UK, Estonia, and Portugal. The wide geographical footprint of deployment will lead on the one hand to a better understanding of the needs of diverse school systems in relation to language education and on the other hand to the development of good practice recommendations on applying serious games for early language education in the classroom targeting teachers at a European level.
In relation to impact, LanguageGames promotes quality early childhood education through the integration of emerging ICT and innovative learning methodologies into classroom practices enhancing learning experiences for young children. It further promotes the strategic deployment of ICT in education through the design, development, and validation of proof-of-concept educational applications that exploit emerging ICT solutions in the context of learning frameworks aiming to address early childhood education needs. By building multilingualism and functional literacy it promotes cultural skills and intercultural dialog, fighting xenophobia and fostering social cohesion. In the longer term, the project promotes the development of basic skills, namely language literacy, for employment, mobility by removing language barriers in education, training, and youth programs, and ET2020 objectives on multilingualism that state as an objective the acquisition of at least 2 languages by learners at an early stage.