The Heroes, Castles, Legends and Learning Gamification project aims to test and develop new and different methodologies like the newborn Learning Gamification blended with Digital Storytelling in an international background to improve our Contents and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)/English as Second Language (ESL)/Deutsch als Fremdsprache (DaF) lessons and learning outcomes. ETwinning plays a core role as preparation, repository and exchange platform.
All of our schools share as issue the need to motivate the pupils to use English in CLIL/ESL/DaF classes to make them effective, and we are looking forward new teaching approaches. Teambuilding strategies both for teachers and pupils will be key in the project as well, and gamification can boost its potentiality. We aim to prevent absenteism and decrease the ratio of early school leaving through attractive and enjoyable teaching approaches.
Presentation of the project (please click over the image)
The motto are the legends existing around most of the castles in Europe and the similarities they show even in very different countries. Nearly all of the legends and mythologies are based in The Journey of the Hero pattern and archetypes, exactly the same as in most of high-end videogames.
Storytelling is an essential part of a good game, and most of the strategies, tests, trials and problem-solving of the videogames can be reproduced in living size games to be played in real castles. In games there are heroes and villains, clans and groups -even international at online videogames- who collaborate to overcome risks and trials. There is conflict, there is an imaginary world. We need to provide players/pupils with stories to give them context as to what they are doing. The importance of learning a second language will be highlightened for the students during the project as they prepare products and play the game. Challenging activities will make students learn subconsciously while having entertainment. Learning through gamification strategies will give the influence to the pupils that they can learn while playing and having fun. This will provide them new methods to use in other lessons as well while learning.
The main idea is the following: getting students integrated while teaching isn’t just a question of physical presence in the same classroom but it involves active cooperation among people. A good way to start active cooperation is looking for contact points, which may be found in the teenagers’ field of action, playing the kids’ favourite role: game, and more especifically, videogames. All of them love games, many of them spend hours playing online videogames in very large international groups or so-called Clans, and the slang linked to videogames is like a teen’s international new language. Why not to use it as English/foreign language learning aid?
The 2013-1-ES1-COM06-73497-6 Comenius 2013-15 project, The Amazing Game of the Ancient European Trails (www.agaet.com) was initially based in a Project Based Learning approach, but as the stages were following we were aware of the birth of Gamification methodology not only as sales motivator in the world of marketing, but as full strategy for the classroom, and a powerful motivator and shared interest for the students of so many different countries and backgrounds. This project was one of the very few awarded as example of good practice and success story.
We felt the international group of students were speaking the same language when they were chatting about their preferences in videogames in-between the learning activities and workshops, and we realized the many possibilities of gamification when linked to CLIL and EFL in the last stage of the project -the play of the game using living counters, dresses and complements in the gardens of the Royal Palace of Caserta (Italy). We realized the importance of teambuilding activities to scaffold and achieve the best of collaboration as well, both among the pupils attending the different learning activities of the project meetings as among the international team of teachers, and videogame-like strategies would be a creative and innovative approach for teens.
It’s just this last stage which has given us the idea of improving and completing the previous one: this time the aim is extending the theme of the game to the concept of didactics, helped by dramatization and digital technology for this task. The experience of the foreign language teachers shows us that asking students to act in a short sketch gives far better results than simply asking them to write or doing grammar exercises, as the motivating factor of their performance gives them the right inducement to accept the studying effort.
After research in the internet, we didn’t found enough evidence of the development of projects blending gamification and CLIL even in an international level, and we decided it was worth to launch a Erasmus+ project to develop the new ideas coming from the very last stage of the game. The collaboration among the EFL, CLIL and DaF teachers will be core. Our aim is to develop teaching strategies and share good practise through the eTwinning Twinspace Heroes, Castles and Legends and by informal communication means, and to add different schools with experience in gamification and bilingual teaching, and a newcomer looking forward the implementation of both methodologies.
Both the international team of teachers and the students of the AGAET project are longlife friends. It is great to collaborate together again!