We’re launching a brand new version of Games2Teach with a refreshed design and easier way to access our publications! Check out the new website!
Julie and I will be offering a workshop at ACTFL 2013 in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday Nov. 21. If you’re going, please consider joining us.
W21 | Gamification for Language Learning
Can video games be of value for learning languages? Participants who are curious, unsure, or excited about online games and their role in the classroom will benefit by exploring the potential of gamification to enhance language learning. Experience and analyze a variety of software that has been successfully implemented in language classrooms, develop game-enhanced activities that are useful for language learning, and discuss ways games and game-informed principles may be useful in your own teaching and learning context.
This Fall we’re offering 4 new publications. If you’d like a free copy of any of them, you can make a request through our publications page.
- a set of materials for game-enhanced L2 Spanish learning with Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover, by K. Lanser & project co-director J. Sykes
- a set of materials for game-enhanced L2 Spanish learning with Mass Effect 3, by K. Lanser & project co-director J. Sykes
- a white paper by project co-director J. Reinhardt entitled: A Meta-analysis of Research Frameworks in Digital Games and L2 Teaching and Learning
- an appendix from Sykes and Reinhardt (2013). Language at Play (published by Pearson), a Guide to Game Types and Genres
This Spring we’re offering 5 new publications. If you’d like a free copy of any of them, you can make a request through our publications page.
- an evaluation by K. Turba and M. Hudgens of L.A.Noire, a role-play adventure game for PC and consoles available in Spanish, French, German, Italian, and English.
- an evaluation by C. Cobo of Dark Tales: Murders in the Rue Morgue, a casual handheld (iOS) adventure game available in Spanish, French, German, and English.
- an evaluation by F. Amaral and K. Turba of Portal 2 an action-adventure game for PC and consoles available in Spanish, French, German, Russian, and English with audio, and Polish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean with subtitles.
- a white paper by project co-director J. Reinhardt entitled: Social Network Games: Potentials for Foreign Language Teaching and Learning
- a second white paper by J. Zhao that outlines Seven Social Networking Games appropriate for intermediate language learning
This Fall we’re offering 5 new publications. If you’d like a free copy of any of them, you can make a request through our publications page.
- a set of materials by J. Zhao for teaching Mandarin Chinese to intermediate learners with Happy Harvest III, a farm management social networking game. The game is available through Facebook in Chinese.
- an evaluation by K. Scholz of Geheimakte Tunguske (Secret Files Tunguske), a point-and-click adventure mystery game for the PC or Nintendo available in German and English
- an evaluation by T. Villa of iMots Caches, a casual handheld word find game available in French
- an evaluation by F. Amaral and I. Teixeira of Jogo da Gloria, a browser-based game designed for learning European Portuguese
- a working paper by project co-director J. Reinhardt entitled: Digital game-mediated foreign language teaching and learning: Myths, realities, and opportunities
After a semester of finishing our book: Language at Play: Digital Games in Second and Foreign Language Teaching and Learning, which should be published by the end of the year, we are back to G2T. We have several projects in the works this year, including new working and white papers, materials for teaching Chinese, German, Spanish, and Russian with games, and reviews of over 20 different games that are available in multiple languages. Stay tuned.
Here’s a link to a talk I gave recently that’s a good introduction to why we should consider using digital games in foreign language education: Learning to Play: Re-thinking Computer Games in Foreign Language Teaching and Learning. The script for the talk is also provided.
Blizzard has modified some of its trial edition features, making it much more user-friendly for those wishing to work with WoW in learning contexts and we wanted to let you know. The features of Blizzard’s Starter Edition include (from Blizzard’s marketing message):
|You’ll now have access to new features that weren’t available in the old, time-limited trial including:|
|• FREE, unlimited play, up to level 20
• Ability to create blood elf or draenei characters
• Access to blood elf and draenei starting zones
• Gold limit increased to 10 gold, so you can purchase a mount once you reach level 20
|If you already have World of Warcraft installed, simply launch the game and log in with your Battle.net® account to continue your adventures.To download World of Warcraft click here.
If you forgot your Battle.net log in information, you can reset it here.
We hope you give the new World of Warcraft Starter Edition a try, and we look forward to seeing you back in Azeroth.
More information can be found here. We haven’t tried it yet, but thought some of you interested in these issues would want the update.
After a great summer, we’re back in class and working on several projects related to digital games, including a book that should be out next year. One concept we discuss in the book is the idea of ‘game-informed’ second/foreign language teaching and learning (L2TL), which means using theories and principles from game design and games studies to inform L2TL, even when it doesn’t involve a game. In laymen’s terms, this is ‘gamification’, or taking non-game activities and applying game principles to reinvent them or see them in a new way.
One concept we introduce in our book is ‘goal-orienting’, a different way of seeing ‘goal-orientation’. Every activity, whether in learning a language or playing a game, has a goal, a purpose, or an objective. We use the phrase ‘goal-oriented’ to describe someone or something that keeps this goal in mind when completing the activity. Instead of ‘oriented’, however, we argue that the term ‘orienting’ is a better way to think about this concept, since the progressive form ‘orienting’ reflects the agency of the doer rather than a state or quality. If we think about working towards goals not as something that is an inherent quality, but rather as an ongoing, dynamic process of continuous choice-making, we are forced to recognize that an actor is involved.
In game playing, players are constantly goal-orienting. They know why they’re playing, what the object of the game is, and what they can do next, based on the individualized, just-in-time feedback provided by the game. Their choices are directed (but not dictated) by the game design to lead players to do what is appropriate for their level. Choices must have discernable impact on gameplay, or else they seem pointless.
There’s a parallel in the L2TL concept of task—an activity that learners complete in order to meet an objective. What game design tells us, however, is that if the learners themselves aren’t doing the goal-orienting, that is, making relevant choices, targeted at their individualized level, based on just the right amount of feedback, just when it is needed, then they’re probably not learning effectively. Goals might be set by the instructor, assessment demands, or implied by a learning theory, but if the learner is not aware and involved, the activity is probably ineffective. Perceived agency is key.
So what are the game-informed implications of this idea? For one, make sure learners know the objective of a particular task, and guide them to set their own objectives whenever possible, to align with curricular objectives, but also provide for choice. Ask both open-ended and limited set-answer questions (e.g. yes/no, true/false, or multiple choice) on a single concept to help learners gauge how much or what parts of a concept they understand. When possible, accept multiple answers and let learners make explicit what they know about a particular concept, and what they do not. Allow learners to choose from a variety of activities on an assignment, or to choose which questions or activities should be weighted more on a test. Consider using tests as instructional tools, where learners take a test multiple times, with partial credit for corrected answers. Any of these techniques can give learners a sense of agency, and ultimately develop a sense of goal-orienting as something one does, rather than as something one has.