The ENACT Web App: Learn Language through Culture
ENACT is a free web app from Newcastle University, UK. With the ENACT interactive player https://enacteuropa.com/ you can learn a foreign language through the foreign culture by carrying out a cultural activity – our app shows you how. Learn Japanese while you’re making an origami boat or Turkish while you’re making a shadow puppet! Your smartphone or tablet will talk you through the stages of doing the activity, with photos, text, audio and video to help. In this way you can learn something about a country’s language and culture before you visit it, understand more about the languages and cultures of the world and produce something beautiful! Learning by physically engaging in an activity brings the language and culture to life and helps cross-cultural understanding. The learning experience is memorable as it involves touch and all your senses. Some activities have 360° videos and images which offer you an immersive experience. You’ll watch a video introducing you to the activity and culture, then learn the most important words. A video will show you in detail how you can carry out the activity yourself in your own home, then you can assess how much you’ve learnt, evaluate what you’ve produced and send messages to others in our online community.
You can also tell others about your own language and culture! With ENACT author, the ENACT materials you produce will enable users to learn aspects of your language and culture by carrying out the cultural task which you show them. Maybe you can teach people some English by showing them how to carve a pumpkin for Hallowe’en? So people all round the world can watch your materials and learn from you about your culture, language and activity. This can be a good way of making your culture and language known to foreigners, but also to younger members of your own community, who may not be learning the traditions you did as a child. Help people all over the world learn about your own language and culture and learn yourself about other countries.
Why not join our online community of people interested in learning and teaching about cultures and languages? Simply go to https://enacteuropa.com/ and create an account to send messages, leave comments, and create your own activity!
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How can Teachers use the ENACT Web App?
Integrating cultural tasks into the curriculum for language learning and/or cross-cultural learning as an occasional, complementary activity offers opportunities on many levels to teachers around the world. It can be helpful in bringing the cultures and languages of countries to life and in preparing students for an overseas trip as it helps engage them with the culture and language in advance. The authoring software can be used by teachers to input their own cultural activities so that their students can learn specific language points.
A great project for students is for them to input their own favourite cultural activities in their own language, using the ENACT author. Project work could also involve students producing their own activities from their own culture to present to a worldwide audience, with the choice of using their own L1 (with captions or subtitles) or English as a Lingua Franca. Digital skills can also be developed by using the ENACT authoring software, which was designed to develop a wide range of digital skills using the DIGCOMP 2.1 framework. We have a digital skills certification system for the project on
The long term aim of the ENACT Web App is to build up a bank of cultural language learning tasks available for free worldwide, covering as many languages, cultures and countries as possible, promoting cross cultural understanding and communication. The ENACT Web App and website provide a free infrastructure which can be used by all language and culture enthusiasts from around the world. We therefore encourage everyone to add their own cultural activity in their own language, culture using the author software so that people all over the world can learn from them — and to encourage this, there is an annual ENACT Web App prize for the best cultural language learning activity. Reciprocity is built into the app: any number of new activities can be added in any language, any country and any culture around the world, using the authoring software – no culture has priority. ENACT is therefore a suitable vehicle for promoting cultural exchange and understanding around the world.
Finally, doing cultural activities for language learning is great fun, a real-world, gritty learning experience involving all 5 senses in the course of producing something with your hands and bodies. This cannot be appreciated by simply reading instructions or reviewing the app online, so why not find a workspace, choose an activity in a new foreign language, and see what you learn!
For Migrant Communities
The app was co-designed with a group of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the EU, so it is particularly suitable for helping to integrate these groups into EU societies, and for home country members to learn more about the communities in their local area. Immigrants can learn to create the host country’s cultural activities to learn about the language and vice versa. Secondly, immigrants can produce their own cultural activities in their own language using the authoring tool. People can also work online on building cultural activities with experts from the home country. These are then freely available for use by both community members, thus enabling mutual understanding and 2-way integration.
A problem for some migrant communities is that the young generation do not always learn the language and culture of the older generation, whilst the elders are often lacking in digital skills. The ENACT Web App enables the learning and inter-generational exchange of languages and cultural activities by means of digital technology. Young people with digital skills can work with older, non-digital family members to upload traditional cultural activities in the heritage language onto the system in terms of audio/video recordings and texts, thus enabling intergenerational skills and knowledge exchanges. The authoring tool is ideal for skills exchanges, so the older generation learns the digital skills and the younger generation learns the heritage activity and language, where appropriate. The infrastructure has been set up so that any number of new cultural activities can be added in any language, country and culture in the EU and beyond, using the authoring tool.
How can University Teachers use the ENACT Web App?
Internationalisation at higher education (HE) contributes to international, intercultural, and global dimensions of teaching. It increases quality of education by raising students’ international outlook and intercultural capabilities. Yet vast majority of HE students lack resources to participate in study abroad and mobility programmes and miss international opportunities. University teachers can use the ENACT web app to mobilise students’ intercultural understanding and knowledge of cultures around the word and increase their awareness of interculturality. The ENACT web app can be used for teaching activities as part of a wide range of programmes and courses with a focus on languages, cultures, and intercultural communication. Whilst students can individually explore and create cultural activities on the web app and participate in the ENACT community, you can also use the ENACT app as part of a virtual exchange to facilitate international collaboration between your students and students from another institution in another country. To learn more about how we are implementing the web app for virtual exchange, read our blog post and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is service learning and community engagement important at your university? Another reason for you to use the ENACT web app in your teaching is to enhance your students’ engagement with the local community. We are developing a model for the ENACT app to be used for service learning programmes at higher education. The ENACT web app is designed to foster social integration and two-way intercultural and intergenerational exchange of languages, cultures, and digital skills. Working with local organisations, your students can act as facilitators to help intercultural or intergenerational pairs to work together to create their cultural activities on the ENACT app. You can use our training materials and our academic recognition tools to acknowledge your students’ community engagement in their academic learning. Our materials to encourage for purposeful civic learning will soon be available on the Outputs section on our website.
For Cultural Clubs and Societies
If you take part in any kind of cultural activity – sewing, dancing, singing, making crafts etc. - then you may want an easy way of showing other people how to do your activity and what it means in your culture. In particular, you may want your young generation to learn your activity and the language used in it. If so, the ENACT Web App offers an easy way of doing this. Make videos of your activity as well as audio, photos and text, and use the authoring tool to make a package that anyone anywhere can use to learn about your activity, language and culture. Your young people may be more interested in learning about it if they see it online!
UNESCO’s definition of cultural heritage “includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.” We hope to promote all of these with the ENACT Web App.
Communities, Languages, and Activities App (ENACT) project is co-funded by the European Commission, Erasmus Key Action 2 Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education, project number: 2019-1-UK01-KA203-061567. The project is led by Newcastle University, and the other consortium partners are: Boğaziçi University, Cultura Foundation, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, and University of Helsinki.