1. GameLet: Objectives and Approach
GameLet addresses the shortcomings in the acquisition of reading skills, multilingualism and meaningful media integration as experienced in project partner countries (OECD, 2019). Improving learners’ reading and media literacy is of vital importance. For one, the digital world is centered on the written word and the labour market requires high literacy levels. Furthermore, the development of school and foreign language skills, media competencies and information literacy among learners, and above all the weaker learners, is crucial for meeting the demands of globalization that not only allow, but encourage increased work mobility and the necessity for lifelong learning in an information driven society.
Reading aloud used to be a cornerstone of language teaching and learning, both for mother tongue (technically: L1) and for ‘foreign’ languages (technically: L2). Today, although research and teaching experience clearly show the value of reading fluency, the skill of reading aloud correctly, meaningfully, and engagingly, for overall language learning, teachers have such a difficulty engaging students in reading aloud that they often just leave it aside. The reasons for this are (1) that reading aloud is not considered an authentic activity; (2) students shy away from an activity that exposes their weaknesses in front of their classmates; and (3) in a class situation, if all students were to be given the chance to read aloud, the time corresponding to each one would be grossly insufficient. The objective of GameLet as a digital environment is to cultivate reading fluency through an innovative approach that deals with all these difficulties.
Firstly, GameLet is multimodal: it can be used by a lone student working alone; or by a whole student cohort in the traditional physical classroom; or by teacher and students online in a virtual class. But the best way to use GameLet is for students in small groups who prepare small theatrical pieces (“Readers’ Theatre”) where each student trains by themselves and receives feedback from both peers and teacher, and the groups compete through the digital gamified environment (whence: ‘GameLet’) in whole class activities, both online and physical. Consequently, GameLet raises the intensity of the practice of reading fluency in the Readers’ Theatre by increasing the extent of self-learning phases through media support services.
Second, GameLet is multimedia: sound, images, videos, animations and mini-games turn an inherently boring activity into a divertimento.
Third, GameLet is formed as a gaming activity in which students solve puzzles, circumvent challenges, cooperate, and compete, gain, and spend ‘points’ and end up with creating a digital artefact of their own. Thereby, GameLet allows for ‘meaningful’ digital media-based gamification mechanisms for the purpose of increasing pupil motivation in self-directed, individual and cooperative learning in the reading fluency training.
Finally, and most importantly, GameLet is based on sound pedagogical, content, and technological research and teaching experience. From just reading-aloud exercises, to reading fluency, to Readers’ Theatre, to Multilingual Readers’ Theatre and digital gamification, GameLet exploits extensive research (see references) and experience (see web sites of GameLet and previous project), validated through pilot use in the GameLet 2018-2021 Erasmus+ project.
To sum it up, the GameLet learning design centres around the Multilingual Readers’ Theatre by integrating a wide variety of reading training methods but it also extends the scope of MELT by applying gamified learning scenarios and materials, including interactive elements, intensifying reading fluency training on an individual and a cooperative basis, adding assessment and feedback forms and enlarging the range of learners it addresses (age, languages, learning profiles...). In the following section of the handbook, the principles of reading fluency training, the theoretical and didactic-methodological foundations of MELT and their transfer and adaptation in GameLet are therefore explained.