EFL Learners' Implicit Theory of Intelligence and the Application of MMORPG in EFL Learning

EFL Learners' Implicit Theory of Intelligence and the Application of MMORPG in EFL Learning

Liwei Hsu (National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism, Kaohsiung, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2015040104
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The present study aims to describe the application of Second Life (SL) to bring together EFL learners around the world and create a third place of learning. A group of 152 undergraduate students (n = 152) of colleges and universities in southern Taiwan were recruited for this experimental project for a period of two years. Within this two-year course they were investigated on their implicit theory of intelligence toward EFL learning. Among these 152 participants, 53 were randomly selected to be sponsored to take TOEIC four times to measure their English proficiency to establish multilevel growth model. Results of this study reported that SL did create positive effects to EFL learners' developing incremental intelligence which was also significantly correlated to their performance on TOEIC. Multilevel growth model proposed by the present study also examined the extent to which the time individual spent on socializing in English through SL can significantly improve EFL learners' performance on TOEIC.
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The use of instructional technology on students’ learning has been an appealing topic and both the academic and practical domains of education await more empirical evidence (Thompson, 2013). Language education is no exception and more works are still in need to explore the applicability of technologies in language teaching and learning (Terrell, 2011). As English teachers within the context of English as a foreign language (EFL), we always hear students’ comments about their lack of natural talent for learning a new language (Mercer, 2010) and such a feeling of helplessness occurs with many EFL learners (Hsu, 2010). It was postulated that EFL learners who believe that they do not possess an aptitude for language learning have negative expectations regarding their attainment, thus leading to learning failures (Bernat, 2007) and such a belief is coined as the implicit theory of intelligence by Gonida, Kiosseoglou, and Leondari (2006).

Furthermore, learners’ beliefs in their talent for language learning seem to be affected by different cultural influences (Mercer, 2010). Learners with a Confucian-heritage culture tend to consider effort to be the most determinant factor that can compensate for a lack of talent (Wanga, 2012; Siebert, 2003). In terms of EFL learning, it is postulated that effort dedicating in contexts other than school and home, which is also known as the “third place”, enables language learners of various cultural backgrounds to undertake active learning which may be beyond the traditional EFL learning because of their new identity in the context (Li & Girvan, 2004).

Recently, with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, various virtual third places emerged in the multi-user virtual environments (Soukup, 2006). The use of multi-user virtual environments in EFL pedagogy has attracted considerable attention (Wang, 2009). Among these virtual environments, Second Life (SL) is the most popular in educational EFL practice (Liou, 2012) because of its visual aesthetic attributes and immersive means of interaction (Bytheway, 2014; Gillen, 2012). Quite a large body of research has claimed the positive effects of SL in EFL learning (Aydin, 2013), although most studies only investigated its short-term effects. Furthermore, the role played by the individual’s implicit theory of intelligence on learning outcomes when SL is integrated remains unknown. In order to bridge the academic gap, the present study aims to explore the following research questions:

  • 1.

    How is the learners’ implicit theory of intelligence on learning EFL changed by their experience of third place learning (TPL) in SL?

  • 2.

    How does the learners’ implicit theory of intelligence associate with their performance on standardized English proficiency test (e.g. TOEIC)?

  • 3.

    To what extent, does the time spent in SL influence the EFL learner’s performance on TOEIC?

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