1 University of Thessaly (GREECE)
2 Centre for Research and Technology Thessaly (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 5059-5065
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
In today’s networked world, virtual mobility for know-how exchange and enrichment of informational resources is as common-place as physical mobility. Professionals typically resort to a lingua franca, such as English, French, or German, for efficient communication in the world of work. This is a result from the need for accurate understanding to ensure the elimination of misconceptions, effective business processes, the development of trusting business relations, and even safety. Training programs exist that aim to build basic competencies for communicating on everyday life and professional activities in a foreign tongue.
However, most of the mainstream approaches for foreign language learning, including the learning of vehicular languages, focus on developing knowledge of the use of the language in the country of origin. Most widely accessible language learning approaches fail to integrate the diverging use of a lingua franca by non-native speakers. For example, a professional who uses English as a vehicular language for basic and professional communication in different regions, e.g. Germany, Spain, France, Italy, or Scandinavia will be faced with widely varying pronunciations that are affected by native languages as well as additional so called “transfer effects”: influences on syntax, choice of words and expressions, and more. In addition, communication with peers is more effective if an individual is well versed into cultural information and practices to help establish a good relationship as well as to avoid pitfalls, such as in-avertedly insulting a business peer; for example, common practices on initiating a business conversation, on introducing themselves, on continuing and closing the communication, and more.
In fact, lately the perceptions about language learning are evolving: instead of forcing all individuals to speak with one particular accent and one particular way, there is a shift towards embracing the richness of European cultures as this is manifested in the diverging uses of vehicular languages. In this respect, situated language learning can be advantageous by enabling the design of learning activities that familiarize an individual with specific work-related situations in varying cultures.
This paper introduces siLang, a serious gaming approach for situated learning of vehicular languages for business use that exposes learners to the use of a language by native as well as non-native speakers. siLang combines serious-gaming technology, situated educational frameworks, and learning content that is adaptable based on the use of vehicular languages in a variety of cultural environments. Learners are exposed to the use of a foreign language through virtual microworlds that support role-playing, conversation and verbal communication tasks simulating real- life scenarios. The objectives, the methodological framework, the pedagogical design, the prototyping of the serious games, the initial technical developments, and the evaluation plan are brought into focus.
The siLang approach is expected to positively impact the efficiency in business communication, competitiveness, and employability. It will enhance appreciation on the cultural and linguistic wealth of Europe. Outcomes will be validated in Greece, Norway, Italy, Portugal, and Estonia.
This work is funded with the support of the Life Long Learning Programme of the European Commission and specifically KA2: Languages and runs from 2012 to 2014.
Game-based learning, language learning, situated learning, vehicular languages.