Developing Language Awareness in Primary School Children through Multilingual Virtual Talking Books

The research project is embedded in the EU-funded project MuViT (Multilingual Virtual Talking Books). Multilingual Talking Books are computer based storybooks for young learners in five different languages (English, German, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish) with corresponding tasks. The stories as well as the tasks aim at language sensitivity and the development of Language Awareness.

The study analyses if and how the software MuViT (independent variable) fosters the development of Language Awareness (dependent variable). Language Awareness is defined as “explicit knowledge about language, and conscious perception and sensitivity in language learning, language teaching and language use” (ALA 1992). It is believed that the MuViT Software can enhance Language Awareness on both the cognitive and the affective level. To evaluate the hypothesis, a pre-post-comparison design has been elaborated. A random sample consisting of an experimental and a control group (n = 27 primary school children in each group) will be tested before and after receiving the treatment (MuViT). The test is divided into two parts:

1. A performance test that assesses the cognitive level of Language Awareness (awareness of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, lexicology and orthography, as well as metalinguistic competence)

2. A questionnaire that evaluates the affective level of Language Awareness (attitudes towards languages and multilingualism, interest in languages and language learning).

Eventually, the pre-test and post-test results of both the experimental and the control group will be analyzed and compared.