Developing CALL for heritage languages: The 7 Keys of the Dragon
Keywords:Online language learning, Heritage languages, Russian, Albanian, Focus-form activities
Abstractn this article we present an interactive extensible software, The 7 Keys of the Dragon, for the teaching/learning of Albanian and Russian to students that attend primary and secondary education in Greece with the respective languages as their heritage languages. We address the key challenges we encountered during the conceptualization phase of the project development and the specific design choices we implemented in order to accommodate them. Drawing on recent research on the role of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) applications for young bilingual populations, we aimed at creating a user friendly environment with a clear pedagogical orientation. Furthermore, given that games in language learning are associated with intrinsic motivation and meaningful exposure to the target language, we have integrated a fairy-tale background narrative, a game-inspired reward system, and two cartoon-like assistant characters to stimulate the user’s involvement in the learning tasks. Five chapters for each target language were created, each comprising a text, a variety of scaffolding material and quizzes. The software is designed to provide real-time automatic correction of quizzes and allow for easy expansion with additional quizzes and texts. A separate application for teachers facilitates essay correction and commenting on the students’ language learning progress and achievements.
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