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Putting the fun into language learning

Experts at The University of Nottingham aim to make language learning as engaging and fun as playing computer games, in a new technology project.

Sharp Laboratories of Europe Ltd (SLE) is collaborating with a team of language experts, educational technologists and computer games designers at the University to develop innovative technology for children to learn and practise foreign languages.

The aim of the ‘L-Mo’ (Language — Mobile) project is to make language learning fun and effective, by applying current practice in mobile games development to the teaching of vocabulary and grammar on handheld devices. Education experts have found that young children who learn through patterns, rhythms and games generally do better — and enjoy the experience more — than those who learn through traditional methods.

SLE, based in Oxford, has funded the first stage of the project.

Teams from the University’s Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI) and SLE will combine their knowledge of handheld games, mobile learning, child language development, and language technology to add to children’s enjoyment of learning a new language.

The research is targeted at children aged seven to 12, living in Asia, who are learning English as a second language.

Professor Mike Sharples, Director of the LSRI, said: “Mobile technology offers children personal and engaging ways to learn languages. Our partnership with Sharp combines our expertise in mobile learning and educational gaming with their world-leading technology for handheld devices.”

Dr Phil Edmonds, Research Scientist at SLE, said: “There is a real opportunity to significantly improve and support language education by creating intelligent, adaptive, and engaging technologies for learning on personal mobile devices. SLE and the LSRI are taking the first steps together.”

The Learning Sciences Research Institute has more than 40 staff involved in studies of all the complex processes involved in human learning, with a particular focus on how new and emerging technologies can be used to enhance learning. The LSRI brings together expertise from staff in the School of Computer Science and IT, the School of Education and the School of Psychology.

Sharp Laboratories of Europe Ltd is a research centre for consumer electronics. It creates new technology in liquid crystal displays, semi-conductor lasers, language and encryption software and consumer bio-science. It is part of a global network of Sharp Laboratories owned by Sharp Corporation, a worldwide developer of innovative products and core technologies that play a key role in shaping the future of electronics.

For more information about SLE, visit

Emma Thorne | alfa
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