Dyslexic learners (DLs) 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 the awareness, training and resources to cater for DLs’ special needs in mixed-ability classes. This gap was revealed by earlier projects, DysTEFL 1-2 and CalDys2, on which ENGaGE intends to build. Although there are some English resources designed for DLs on the international market, materials in German are scarce, and there are no bilingual learning materials for individual learner or differentiated classroom use to provide targeted support for DLs in the countries (Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland) for which this task bank has been designed. To cater for this educational need, the project aims to produce a flexible, thematically organised digital task bank in English and German for DLs participating in integrated primary school education from year 4 to 8, ages 10-14, up to language level A2 (according to CEFR). The task bank will contain skills development tasks addressing the difficulties of DLs, graded tasks providing alternative solutions to assignments, as well as open-ended individual and group project tasks which encourage a task-based approach and cooperative learning. 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 provides a multisensory approach to learning with more than ten task types and the possibility to integrate a wide variety of materials such as games, videos, pictures, word documents and pdf files, as well as a monitoring function for teachers to follow and shape learner progress individually.
The project will be accomplished by the 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 a broad spectrum of expertise to the project including experience in educational research and teacher training practice in the field of learning with SEN, as well as developing digital learning platforms and printed course materials for the target age group with and without SEN. Primary schools from each target country will join the project, as associated partners, to test the material and provide feedback.
The activities to be developed within the framework of the ENGaGE project will include audio recordings, animated audio-visual materials using the Powtown animation software, built-in language games, sample lesson plans, teachers’ manuals and learners’ guides in English and German. The material will be tested in the associated partner schools, where the partners will collect feedback, conduct classroom observation and subsequently report the outcome. 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), partner 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 multiplier 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 could 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 foreign languages.