Gamification for Technology-Enhanced Language Teaching and Learning

Gamification for Technology-Enhanced Language Teaching and Learning

Joan-Tomàs Pujolà (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain) and Christine Appel (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2591-3.ch005


This chapter explores gamification as an innovative pedagogical strategy in language learning with the use of technology. The authors examine the construct of gamification, arguing for the need of a clear definition as many authors use various terms interchangeably. The dynamics, mechanics, and components to conform a gamified learning experience are presented. The chapter describes current research and teaching experiences on gamification and technology-enhanced teaching and learning. Two approaches are identified: the use or design of gamified apps and gamified learning experiences designed entirely by teachers and implemented with the help of different technologies. Some tools and platforms for gamification are discussed and recommendations on how to implement a successful gamified teaching intervention are provided. Two approaches to researching gamification are also proposed.
Chapter Preview


In recent years, gamification has become a recurrent methodological strategy in the field of education (Kim, Song, Lockee, & Burton, 2018), and the area of foreign language teaching is not an exception (Pujolà & Herrera, 2018; Reinhardt, 2019). There are more and more teachers who, in the search for resources to enhance students’ engagement, introduce several elements of games to their teaching together with the use of technology (Goethe, 2019; Siemon & Eckardt, 2017). The origin of this trend can be traced back to the vast popularity of video games that caught the attention of experts in different areas of knowledge such as business and education. These experts examined the use of game elements in non-game contexts with the intention of applying them in their own areas (Kapp, 2012; Marczewski, 2013; Werbach & Hunter, 2012). Both the results of these studies, and the emergence of new technological applications have triggered moves toward the implementation of gamification in foreign and second language learning and teaching. Gamification is conceived as a didactic methodology, the central purpose of which is to offer a learning experience that generates students’ engagement and interest (Tulloch, 2014).Over time, within the language teaching tradition a wide variety of games have been used for the development of communicative competence (Lee, 1979; McCallum, 1980; Wright, Betteridge, & Buckby, 1984). While the learning goal of these games may vary widely (e.g., prompting authentic oral practice in the process of playing, facilitating vocabulary retention, or providing controlled practice of some grammar points) what they all have in common is that teachers employ them in an attempt to make the learning experience enjoyable.

The use of computer games for educational purposes has also contributed to the integration of playful components in language classes or in virtual language learning environments (Peterson, 2013; Reinders, 2012; Reinhardt, 2017; Sykes & Reinhardt, 2012). Simulation games have been particularly popular in language teaching and learning (Crookall & Oxford, 1990), not surprisingly, given the importance of language use in meaningful communicative interaction for second language acquisition (Canale & Swain, 1980). From the perspective of both psycholinguistic and sociocultural theories of language learning, simulation and computer games hold great potential for language learning in that they engage learners in situations that will allow for negotiation of meaning and/or collaborative dialogue (Peterson, 2009). A different approach has been the development of computer games designed specifically for language learning (e.g., Sørensen & Meyer, 2007). In these educational games, also known as serious games, a specific learning need is targeted and a game is designed around this goal.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gamification Dynamics: Aspects of the gamified system that have to be considered but never directly enter into the gamification.

Serious Games: Games that are designed with a specific learning objective in mind.

Gamification Mechanics: Basic processes that drive the action forward.

Game-Based Learning: The use of digital or non-digital games with the aim to fulfill one or more specific learning objectives.

Gamefulness: The experiential and behavioral quality of a game.

Gamification Components: The specific instantiations of gamification mechanics and dynamics.

Gamification: A process in which people make use of the thinking and mechanics behind games in non-game contexts.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: