While the MElang-E game is still being finalized, there are already a range of student research projects on MElang-E being conducted! Today, Desiree Daniels, who has written her final thesis on diversity in language learning material, provides us a glimpse into her project and findings!
How well does MElang-E represent diversity compared to conventional schoolbooks?
This question suggested itself because the serious game’s multilingual and multinational background as well as its name’s meaning (mélange=mixture) put diversity in mind. Additionally, the comparison to conventional schoolbooks is of interest in order to reveal further benefits of applying the game in the EFL classroom.
The requirements and standards for teaching material (e.g. KMK standards and anti-discrimination policies) formed the basis of the research in which the representations of different dimensions of diversity in the schoolbooks were compared to those in MElang-E. For example, the quantitative representation of different genders, age groups and ethnic groups were compared to each other. The qualitative analysis showed how differences are dealt with in the stories.
Out of all selected teaching materials, MElang-E has the most equal gender ratio. It has a male player character, but features slightly more female characters in return. In the schoolbooks, males are more dominant; the ratio is 3:2. Whereas ethnic diversity is represented in all teaching materials, MElang-E is the only one that presents lingual diversity. What is more, its diverse linguistic resources allow the language learners to make use of their own multilingual skills as well. This unique aspect promotes language friendliness and awareness.
When looking at the storylines, the answers to questions such as “Who speaks about whom?” and “Who is acting where with whom?” clearly show that minorities are spoken of in the schoolbooks rather than being spoken to or speaking themselves. The difference in MElang-E is that the main characters not only belong to certain minorities, but are also much more open to interacting with other people. So-called “positive discrimination” and the distinction between “us” and “them” is sometimes still problematic inside conventional schoolbooks.
All in all, MElang-E promotes diversity, tolerance and open-mindedness. Clearly, not all dimensions of diversity can be represented among a comparatively small number of characters. However, by dealing with specific aspects of diversity, learners acquire competences that are useful when confronted with any dimension of diversity.