Dyslexic learners( DL) represent a group of learners with special educational needs typically educated, in line with EU and local legislation, in integrated classes in most European countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the UK. However, teachers often lack awareness, training and resources to cater for DLs’ special needs in mixed-ability classes as indicated by previous projects (DysTEFL 1-2, CalDys2) we intend to build on. Although there are some English resources meant for DLs on the international market, materials in German are scarce, and in the target countries of designed task bank (Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland) there are no bilingual learning materials for individual learner use or differentiated classroom work to provide targeted support for DLs. To cater to this educational need, the project aims to produce a flexible, thematically organised English and German digital task bank for DLs participating in integrated primary school education across classes 4-8 (age group 10-14), up to proficiency level A2 according to CEFR. The task bank will contain skills development tasks addressing the difficulties of DLs, graded tasks allowing for alternative solutions of the same assignment, as well as open-ended individual and group project tasks encouraging a task-based approach and cooperative learning. As a specificity, ENGaGE will be based on a multilingual and multicultural approach providing native language support in the languages of, and (inter)cultural content related to, the target countries: Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Screenager, the digital surface hosting the material, is an innovative, teacher-operated educational platform. It fosters a multisensory approach to learning with more than ten task types and the possibility to integrate a wide variety of materials (games, videos, pictures, word and pdf files, etc.), as well as a monitoring function for teachers to follow and shape learner progress individually.
The project will be realised in the cooperation of seven partner institutions from four countries: the University of Miskolc, the University of Szeged, Lingua-Met Gp. and Navigates LP from Hungary, Lancaster University (UK), Masaryk University (Czech Republic) and Warsaw University (Poland). The partners contribute to the project a broad spectrum of expertise including educational research and teacher training practice in the field of learning with SEN, and developing digital learning platforms and printed course materials for the targeted age group with and without SEN. As associated partners, primary schools from each target country will join the project to try the material and provide feedback. Six national language teaching associations from the partner countries have also volunteered to help disseminate the results of the project.
The activities to be completed within the framework of the project will include the development of the ENGaGE digital course in English and German with audio recordings and animated audiovisual materials produced with the Powtoon animated video maker platform, built-in language games, sample lesson plans, teachers’ manual and learners’ guide. The material will be tested in the associated partner schools, where the partners will collect feedback, conduct classroom observation and subsequently report the outcomes. To familiarise language teachers with the potential of the ENGaGE course and digital materials to individualise the learning process, a 15-hour Teacher Training Programme will be developed and conducted locally in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. Communication and cooperation between the partners will be facilitated by five partner meetings. Finally, the results will be disseminated on the project’s website and Twitter account (@ENGaGE_Dyslex), the websites and social media sites of the partners, in Lancaster University’s Dyslexia and Language Teaching Massive Open Online Learning Course, on the EU’s School Education Gateway platform, in various media appearances, academic publications and presentations, and at three multiplication events organised in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
The project aims to raise awareness of the special educational needs of DLs in foreign language learning, and provide ideas and resources for teachers to facilitate their individualised treatment in mixed-ability classes. Awareness and information might help teachers to develop a more supportive and proactive attitude towards the education of DLs. For DLs the course offers a tailor-made, attractive learning environment to increase their engagement, motivation, activity and subsequently improve foreign language attainment. Potential long-term benefits might include a decrease in the exemption of DLs from foreign language learning and their greater involvement in learning (even multiple) foreign languages.