Leveraging Mobile Games for Place-Based Language Learning

Leveraging Mobile Games for Place-Based Language Learning

Christopher L. Holden (University of New Mexico, USA) and Julie M. Sykes (University of New Mexico, USA)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/ijgbl.2011040101
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This paper builds on the emerging body of research aimed at exploring the educational potential of mobile technologies, specifically, how to leverage place-based, augmented reality mobile games for language learning. Mentira is the first place-based, augmented reality mobile game for learning Spanish in a local neighborhood in the Southwestern United States. This paper explores both the complexities and benefits of integrating mobile games in second and foreign language learning contexts. Relevant background issues are discussed and the Mentira project is described, including an exploration of the setting, narrative, gameplay, and curriculum. Initial findings and future goals are explored. Gameplay, the importance of ’place’ for language learning, is discussed and the role of student buy-in. The paper concludes with future considerations for the continued use of mobile games projects for language learning as well as other disciplines.
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Knowledge About Vs. Knowledge Of

Maintaining the relevance and purpose of any educational intervention demands that we, as educators, move beyond replication of existing practices in digitally-mediated environments towards what Hughes (2005) classifies as transformational interventions.

As a relevant example of the transformations suggested, Scardamelia and Bereiter (2006) describe the need for formal learning environments to become places capable of building, rather than simply transmitting, knowledge. In both diagnosing and addressing this need, they posit a conceptual distinction between knowledge of and knowledge about as key.2 This is very similar to the distinction between learning about a language (i.e., knowledge about) and being able to use a language as part of a community (i.e., knowledge of) (Kramsch, 2002, 2009; Stryker & Leaver, 1997; Thorne, Black, & Sykes, 2009).3 In general, there still tends to be an overemphasis on learning about a language at the expense of learning the skills necessary for intercultural competence, especially at lower levels of proficiency (MLA, 2007; Bardovi-Harlig, 2001; Felix-Brasdefer, 2007; Sykes, 20094).

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