The Language Magician


erasmusThe University of Reading, in a project with nine other partners from four European countries, worked within a strategic partnerships across Europe. Led by the Goethe-Institut London, the project aimed to:

  • Develop an assessment tool for learning modern foreign languages at primary level;
  • Contribute to higher quality language teaching across primary schools;
  • Investigate, longitudinally, motivation for and attainment in foreign languages at primary level in different European countries.

The project has designed a computer-based game, The Language Magician, as an assessment tool for use in primary schools. It builds on and draws on the findings from the Nuffield Primary Modern Languages project conducted by Professor Suzanne Graham, Professor Theo Marinis and Dr Louise Courtney (2012-2014) that looked at the impact of teaching approaches on primary school language learning and motivation (see PROGRESS AND PREPAREDNESS IN PRIMARY LANGUAGES).  Dr Courtney was the project lead for The Language Magician at Reading, with Professor Graham as Co-Investigator.

The game is fun for children while providing information on their progression. It supports teachers and practitioners by giving them a tool to assess their pupils’ abilities in writing, reading and listening comprehension using non-threatening testing methods.

Researchers are able to access anonymised raw data to conduct in-depth analysis of task results such as the nature of learner progression in listening, reading, and writing, vocabulary recognition and production, explore the link between motivation and task results, and if there are any gender differences in performance and motivation.

The Language Magician is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

Sharing of knowledge and good practice

Louise and Suzanne presented initial findings on learner motivation from the first round of data collection in Siena, 2017.  You can see their presentation here.

A final conference was held in May 2018, open to language practitioners and policy makers as well as researchers.

The project website gives full details of The Language Magician and its associated research. Please visit