Thursday, October 11, 2012

Using Digital Games in L2 Classroom

Gamification is to use game elements and constructs to accomplish certain objectives in the non-entertaining settings, like business, education, etc., which has become a trend in languages learning and teaching.  Implementing digital games  L2 classrooms enjoys considerable merits in reaching the instructional goals. 

First of all, playing digital games could be an engaging and relaxing experience, which can lower learners' anxiety in learning. In Tom Chatfield's video, 7 ways games reward the brain, he points out playing games can compel, motive and transfix individuals. Games can generate emotional, individual and collective rewards, which increase individual emotional, psychological and neurological engagement. 

Moreover, during the process of game playing, learners must be motivated to try their best to move and excel with continuous efforts. The more familiar with the games they become, and the more they points they earn, and the more they want to play. The process of wanting and liking of the game increase learners’  ambition and delight in engaging in subjects. They are more likely to become motivated in the learning process.

Furthermore, I think games truly can help people develop themselves and make them smart by thinking and solving problems while playing. Players might also get excited to challenge themselves to the uncertain obstacles in the new game situation after they pass one.  In order to win, they need to reason and put consistent efforts to pass another task through errors and trials. Hence, this is like a circle, which makes them hardly to stop. 

Let's take teaching vocabulary for example. I like using Vocabulary Games, because there are many types of games (like Memory Match / Cross Word/ Word Search/ Which one/ Unscramble, etc.) arranged by themes and levels. Personally, I seldom play games, but when I clicked START button..I found myself getting hooked, because it is so easy to click the mouse and match the words. The animation makes the activity very interesting and interactive. There are always hints to make a guess and opportunities to learn when I gave a wrong answer. For example, if I teach Halloween vocabulary. I will make a word search grid to let students to play with it. The teaching objective is to aid students in learning new words and their spellings by intensively searching for them in the puzzle, letter by letter. Also, I can use the cross word to let students write the words based on the definition I provide. Hence, they need to read the English explanation and retrieve the word from the memory by spelling them correctly in the boxes. Students will find these games more engaging than read and copy the words. Teachers need to provide students assistance if possible to make sure students are on the right track. Also, walkthrough can be provided if the task is challenging, which can guide and facilitate students' thinking and output. Relevant pictures and musics can be provided as long as they can facilitate students' learning outcomes.

To assess whether students' learning outcomes match the teaching objectives or not, we need to make sure students fully participate in the activity at first hand. Hence, we can use peer work or group work to invite them to collaborate and get involved in the games. During the game process, we need to observe students' needs and give explanation if possible. After the game, we can recycle the words and  adapt them in another game genre that they are familiar with to see whether they can figure it out again. 

As for the supplement games for students to play outside classrooms, OGI Games is a good resource. If I teach a group students majoring in medical science, I will introduce Arm Surgery to them. There are a lot of vocabulary in the context of hospital. Also, students can learn a lot of verbs by following the instructions by immersing themselves in the virtual situation.  Moreover, they can learn the words about sequence by doing the operation. 

Hence, in this game, students can learn vocabularies in a meaningful context. Also, they can learn by doing, which benefits their understanding. Moreover, they will find it very relaxed. Digital games for L2 classrooms are like alliterative but powerful arrows for us to target the teaching objectives and students' needs. 


  1. This type of game is useful, but not the type I was hoping you would explore.

  2. I changed this blog and posted a new blog about the serious and strategy games.. would you please help me to see whether they need some improvement? Thank you!