City Stories

Cultural Treasures for Language Learners

Project number: 2020-1-CZ01-KA227-ADU-094205

Project category: cooperation for innovation

Project outcome: development of a "Digital Escape Rooms" platform for supporting language learning

Brief summary:

Every home has a history; and every local knows the legends. Stories are everywhere, they help us define who we are and make sense of the world around us. As legendary author Terry Pratchett put it “There’s always a story. It's all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything's got a story in it.” Even cities have stories.

Good stories are amazing learning tools as they engage the audience and challenge them to think about and understand the worldview they are being presented with. In particular, stories help us both to recognise and give us a sense of belonging to our own culture, and open a window onto other cultures. Stories are cultural treasures.

On the other hand, technology also has an impact on our lives. Pratchett also wrote that “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way around.” If people are shaped and given definition by stories, the same can also be said for technology, especially in the pandemic and post-pandemic world when so many have been forced to rely on technology in some way for their access to education.

Whilst many believe face-to-face classes are more conducive to learning, this does not mean technology does not have a role to play; especially innovative and creative methods of engaging and motivating students. One such example that is much under-used in all areas of education, not just language learning, is the Digital Escape Room.

This then is the basic objective of our project. We believe that we can use stories (traditional or contemporary) from different cultures and put them into Digital Escape Rooms (DERs) to create an exciting, engaging, language learning experience.

We will develop a set of modern, innovative teaching resources that will help develop language competencies in learners. At the same time we believe we can foster intercultural competencies by making students familiar with stories from beyond their own culture.

Research, from both the teachers who work in our language schools and those of our associates, as well as from the students who study in these language centres, has made it very clear that there is strong demand for teaching and learning resources that are meaningful, motivational, modern and innovative. Our project has been designed to produce resources which meet this demand.

The platform we use to host the DERs will also allow other teachers and students to go on to create their own stories and their own learning activities. Our dream is to have City Stories from all over connecting people and inspiring them, through culture and language, to explore and better understand the world we share.

Let’s finish with another quote from Terry Pratchett. Because although we know where stories come from, and sometimes we watch them unfold in front of our eyes; and although learning is a never-ending process, we know we can learn how to learn, as Pratchett said,“It’s still magic, even if you know how it's done.”