Retour vers liste

Détail de la contribution

Auteur: Andrea SCHALLEY

Co-Auteur(s): Susana EISENCHLAS, Griffith University, Australia Gordon MOYES, Griffith University, Australia

Play to Learn: Self-Directed Literacy Acquisition through Online Games

Abstract/Résumé: Minority languages education in Australia has been predominantly pursued through Community Language Schools (also called ‘ethnic’, ‘heritage’, ‘community run’ or ‘Saturday/Sunday’ schools). At present, there are some 1,000 community language schools attended by about 100,000 school age children. These schools provide language maintenance in 69 languages, which represents just over one third of languages spoken in Australia. Despite the good intentions, there are many challenges these schools face. One of the most problematic aspects is that tuition is usually conducted in addition to mainstream schooling, generally on Saturday or Sunday mornings or after school hours. Many children lack motivation and perceive after-hours school as an unnecessary burden. Moreover, given the diversity of minority languages in Australia, not every language can be offered in each city or suburb, and hence minority language speakers’ needs can generally not be met by Community Language Schools. This situation has detrimental effects for children, families, and communities, and entails a loss of potential opportunities for the country. Given the complex nature of the Australian context, it becomes clear that any offerings of literacy support to children speaking minority languages have to meet a number of principles. From the learners’ perspective, these programs need to be: - engaging and motivating, so that children enjoy the experience and are intellectually stimulated, yet - non threatening, to avoid frustration, and - culturally relevant and appropriate, to draw on children’s immediate experiences. In terms of design and implementation, these programs should be: - easily adaptable, to cater to different levels of proficiency, different languages and different ages; - flexibly accessible at different times and locations of the children’s choice; - cost effective, and - easy to maintain and expand. Gaming environments appear to fulfil all of these characteristics. This presentation discusses a pilot study conducted in Australia with English-German bilinguals, which sought to investigate to what extent primary school-aged children can self-direct their literacy acquisition in the minority language through playing online educational games in the privacy of their homes and with little adult input. If games prove effective in promoting emergent literacy development, this model could become a viable option for multilingual societies. It would address the practical challenges posed by the wide range of languages found in Australia, e.g. by bypassing the need of trained teachers and suitable materials in many of the community languages.