Blending Video Games Into Language Learning

Blending Video Games Into Language Learning

Jonathan Newcombe (Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom) and Billy Brick (Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2017100106
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Around 2 billion people worldwide engage in video games and a similar number of English language learners are anticipated by the year 2020. It can be assumed that many language learners are also ‘gamers', and that a language learner may play a video game to learn English. This article focuses on the language learning affordances in offline video games. General game-based learning principles identified by Gee are used as the method to identify and classify the learning affordances in a selection of video games. These learning principles are explained and then used to detail general learning opportunities inherent in a variety of video games. It suggests that language learning opportunities on video-games are too varied and that the scaffolding guidance of a teacher might be needed. It concludes by proposing that contextualized live video-game-like immersive experiences could also be conducive to language learning.
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This study identified learning opportunities in video games, considered them in relation to language learning systems and strategies, and contemplated their integration into contemporary language teaching. To do this, it identified and categorised examples of learning affordances, specifically those related to presentation and motivation factors, in analysing how the visual and interactive contexts of language of games are beneficial for language learners and could be incorporated into language teaching.

To ascertain whether video games are appropriate language learning tools this study assumed that learners are either fans of playing video games or willingly engaging with video games to learn English. It also considered learners to be studying at approximately CEFR B1 level (CEFR, 2011) as this would mean they possessed appropriate skills in recognising and interpreting information, straightforward instructions, different text types, and various aspects of language to successfully interact with a video game in the language they are learning.

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