Shouting in the Kenyan Space: Can Spaceteam ESL Improve L2 Learners’ Oral Reading Fluency?


  • Walcir Cardoso Concordia University
  • David Waddington Concordia University
  • Anne-Marie Sénécal Concordia University
  • Enos Kiforo Aga Khan Academy
  • Linah Anyango Merishaw School
  • Dickson K. Karanja Sacred Heart High School



spaceteam ESL, digital game, oral reading fluency, speed reading


This study examined the effects of Spaceteam ESL, a digital shouting game, on the development of oral reading fluency (ORF) among 71 English as a second language (ESL) students in three primary and secondary schools in Mombasa, Kenya. Following a mixed-methods approach for data collection and analysis, we pre-tested and post-tested the participants on their ability to read aloud efficiently (speed) and accurately (accuracy) in three tasks: (1) phrases extracted from the game; (2) phrases not related to the game; and (3) a short anecdote. Paired-samples t-tests results revealed that, as hypothesized, participants who played Spaceteam ESL improved their ORF on measures of speed on all tasks, possibly because of the fast-paced nature of the game. However, no significant differences were observed in terms of accuracy due to a ceiling effect: the participants had already mastered the intricacies of the letter-to-sound rules of English orthography. Overall, these findings corroborate our hypothesis that some of the affordances of Spaceteam ESL (e.g., focus on speed reading, multiple and varied opportunities for practice) could contribute to the development of some aspects of oral reading fluency.

Author Biographies

Walcir Cardoso, Concordia University

Walcir Cardoso is a Professor of Applied Linguistics at Concordia University. He conducts research on the second language (L2) acquisition of phonology, morphosyntax and vocabulary, and the effects of computer technology (e.g., clickers, games, text-to-speech synthesizers, automatic speech recognition, intelligent personal assistants) on L2 learning.

David Waddington, Concordia University

David Waddington is a Professor of Education at Concordia University & Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance. His current research foci include teacher free speech, video games and citizenship, philosophical questions in science and technology education, and the history and philosophy of progressive education (esp. John Dewey).

Anne-Marie Sénécal, Concordia University

Anne-Marie Sénécal is a graduate student of Applied Linguistics at Concordia University & Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance. Her research interests include the pedagogical use of clickers, educational games, and speech technologies (TTS, ASR) in L2 education. She also teaches ESL at a College in Montréal (Canada).

Enos Kiforo, Aga Khan Academy

Enos Kiforo, B.Ed., MA in Education, is the coordinator and research specialist for the Learning toolkit project (a digital literacy and numeracy programme for early childhood education) in schools in Kenya under the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance (Concordia University), and the Aga Khan Academy (Mombasa, Kenya).

Linah Anyango, Merishaw School

Linah Anyango is the Head of Pedagogy and Teacher Professional Development at Merishaw School (Nairobi, Kenya). She has coached over 500 teachers on ICT integration and has been a Microsoft Trainer and Expert since 2018. In 2020, she made it to the Top 50 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize.

Dickson K. Karanja, Sacred Heart High School

Dickson Karanja, B.Ed. in Education and Economics and is a Microsoft Certified Educator and Innovator Educator Expert, and Founder of #OneTeacherOneLesson. He oversees ICT resources at the Sacred Heart High School (Mombasa, Kenya) where he currently teaches. In 2020, he won the Bett MEA global award on innovation in teaching and learning.


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