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Ambient Intelligence as a compelling instructional tool for interlinguistic and intercultural skills

People are surrounded by intelligent intuitive interfaces embedded in all kinds of objectsand by an environment that is capable of recognising and responding to the presence ofdifferent individuals in a seamless, unobtrusive and often invisible way. Within thisframework, ambient intelligence (AmI) assumes a shift in computing from desktopcomputers to a multiplicity of computing devices in our everyday lives wherebycomputing moves to the background and intelligent, ambient interfaces to theforeground. AmI is based on the use of multimedia wireless handheld devices (WHDs,e.g. mobile phones) as an interface between human beings (using the five senses) andtheir surrounding.In this project, we are interested in the use of WHDs as linguistic and cultural learningtools : we intend to mix the principles of mobile learning and mobile gaming technologies in order to developa series of compelling instructional tools for WHDs augmented with "locational" gameand "geocaching" elements (i.e. a treasure hunting game based on the use of a WHDs).Through these elements participants will improve their linguistic and cultural knowledgeabout a European multicultural city or region, interacting with the local population andsolving small problems presented to them at different stages. Our objective is to developtools to support individualized language learning and apply them to the acquisition offoreign languages through subsets of linguistic, non-verbal, and cultural knowledge andskills necessary to accomplish specific tasks. In order to maximize learners' motivationand give them effective practice opportunities, participants will work on vocabularyitems, learn gestures, and apply them in simulated situations through interaction withavatars or directly with the local population.Moreover, we intend to create a series of language courses, each of which combines atleast two different languages: the official language of the country where the game takesplace plus a second language spoken by a local minority or as a second/regionallanguage. The citiesand regions chosen show a strong multi-linguistic and multicultural character, which wewant to transmit to course participants through a series of interactive activities andtasks. Courses are targeted at mobile phone users - normally young adults aged 15 to35 years. Players can participate individually or in small groups, so that every personcan take part in the games. The games can be played simultaneously by several teams;in fact, the project includes the organisation of adequately advertised special "treasurehunts" events in the cities. The materials will also be available to people who cannot goto any of these cities, through a web version of the games, enlarging considerably ourpotential audience.

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