1 Moscow State Linguistic University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
2 Moscow State Autonomous Comprehensive School 1518 (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 7772-7778
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.1561
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
One of the most difficult challenges for foreign language teachers in the XXIst century is to keep their young students motivated and involved in the process of the target language acquisition. With the development of technologies, it became easier for children to entertain themselves with no effort required, whereas the learning process still provokes difficulty. In this context, the use of gamification in language learning can be an effective tool.

According to the Russian Educational Standard, pupils begin to study their first foreign language at the age of 7 or 8 (in the second form of primary school). At the same time, in the third form there often appears a second foreign language as an optional element of the school curriculum in order to prepare pupils for its obligatory introduction in the secondary school two years later. Therefore, no official assessment, which the pupils get used to in their first foreign language, is applied in this case.

The current research concerns gamification techniques used at the additional lessons of Spanish as a second foreign language to keep young learners motivated and interested in the subject. To fulfill this purpose, we created a game based on a famous series about Harry Potter. The choice was made due to the previously organized survey of 150 primary schoolers in which the majority (83%) mentioned this series as one of their favorite films. During the game, the pupils were offered activities aimed at the development of their listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing skills, where the productive types stood out as a priority. The pupils’ task was to pass the game, where the language was a means of achieving this goal, within three months.

Methodologically, the engagement was attained with the help of a story line backed up by constant immediate feedback and balanced reward structure, as well as the aesthetics of the film series that played an important role during the game. The new information was presented in the game as part of the plot. New lexical items and grammar rules were embedded in the story line to make it meaningful for the pupils. Language and communicative exercises based on the new material helped to develop a range of skills required for A1 CEFR.

In listening comprehension, from the very first lessons, the pupils started understanding the teacher’s requests in the target language, given with the help of pictures, “magic” things and gestures. The reading part included map and sign recognition, where, on the one hand, technical rules of reading and on the other – exercises aimed at study reading and searching were “hidden”. To engage our pupils’ into speaking and writing activity, the “magic” hat “asked” them simple questions, so that at the end of the first class they already could introduce and give a short description of themselves.

As a result, the children became more active in classes and at home doing their homework. In the course of the game, the level of their motivation increased, as the learning atmosphere enhanced their self-esteem. They were given opportunities to get the desired result, and several children experienced the state of flow when they did not notice the time and the effort required. To conclude, we have reached our main goal to get the pupils interested in studying Spanish as their second foreign language and thus, consider gamification techniques a useful and effective means of developing primary schoolers’ intrinsic motivation.
Primary school, Spanish, second foreign language, gamification, motivation.