Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 11

Accepted Abstracts

ESL and Computational Thinking

Marilina Lonigro, Scuola Secondaria di 1° grado Bovio-Palumbo, Trani (BT), Italy (Italy)


Does it make sense for an English teacher to take part in a robotics competition? It does indeed! Firstly to show that robotics is not the exclusive ‘deal’ of STEM, and then to demonstrate how computational thinking can be applied to language learning and integrated with robotics in a digital creativity exercise. The competition task was to stage a performance on the theme of the Wizard of Oz by Baum integrating human and robot actors. The project was structured in the following steps to follow the computational thinking process:

  • Decomposition of the problem
  • Pattern identification
  • Abstraction
  • Algorithm processing
  • Validation and improvement

An onboarding activity allowed to introduce the topic, the process and the desired outcome of the project. Then the breakdown phase was started. We read the story and analyzed some language the students could use in the following steps of the project through vocabulary building activities, role play and dialogue construction, circle questions. Then in group the students analyzed the meaning of the text, highlighted some symbols in the story and selected interesting passages. In the subsequent step, they were guided to compare the story with other similar stories (Harry Potter, The Lion King, etc.) to identify the narrative pattern. Once the text was decomposed in all its elements, the students were ready to recreate it in a 2 minute storyboard with all the details covering costumes, music, scenery, dialogues and on stage interaction between human characters and robots. Finally, the storyboard was implemented into a show and the students had to program the robots. They followed tutorials in English describing the technical features of the electronic components on the robots and how to program them. The validation took place first at rehearsals and then on the occasion of the regional selection. After the regional selection, the students decided to revise the performance largely in view of the participation to the national competition showing autonomy in learning.

Thus language learning and reading turned into a digital creation and taught students how to proceed with complex problems, showing the importance of a resilient attitude.



Robotics, Computational Thinking, CLIL


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