25 Apr 2012

Digital Games: Learning English by Playing

“Games are a more natural way to learn than traditional classrooms. Not only have humans been learning by playing games since the beginning of our species, but intelligent animals as well” (Clark Aldrich, Learning Online with Games, Simulations and Virtual Worlds, 2009).

Playing is an important part of human development and life. We learn by doing, socializing exchanging ideas and collaborating with our peers. However, we grow up and all of a sudden – voilà – school appears and playing takes a back seat. What has happened? Teaching, understood as instruction, does not consider it relevant for learning.

However, in spite of this negative picture, there is still hope as ICT is changing the way we perceive games and particularly videogames. They are becoming to be considered powerful and valuable tools for learning. 

Videogames play an important role in children and teens’ life. What we call 'technology', they call it 'life'. Therefore, why not gamify our language class? Do you need more reasons for it?

Digital games are...

Good for learning, developing strategies and skills to solve problems in context and critical thinking.

Autonomous learners.

Motivating for students.

Emotional engagement.

Situated learning, social learning, students become the centre of attention.

As part of European Schoolnet's project 'Digital Games in Schools. A Teacher's Handbook' was published in 2009. The handbook is intended for those teachers interested in introducing digital games in their teaching practice. Therefore, it provides useful information about the benefits of digital games for learning as well as tips on how to use them as educational and motivational resources.

The handbook will be very helpful as an overview of this issue. Nevertheless, if you wish to explore the possibilities of videogames for second/foreign language learning, I recommend you to visit Graham Stanley and Kyle Mawer'blog Digital Play. The blog is really easy to navigate and offers a wide range of activities and lesson plans based on digital games to accomplish different language learning objectives while having fun. 

In the following video, Graham Stanley talks about the ways gamification can be used in the English classroom and shares some ideas for adapting games for language teaching. If you want to have access to the full version, click here.

An interesting educational digital game which will be launched next summer is Wikiduca.  This is the project of two creative Spanish young minds, David Anthony and Anton Popovine, who decided to work on this educational browser-game to help children learn English vocabulary through videogames.

Starting from the idea that children love video games, fantasy worlds and solving mysteries, David and Anton propose exciting quests and minigames for them. As children increase their vocabulary words, they gain more powers and new missions within the game. The key point is "learning by playing".

Wikieduca is basically based on a business freemium model, that is, most of the content will be free except a small part of extras. You can read this news in Spanish.

For further reading:

Other websites where you can find useful digital games for your classes:

Video Games and Education
Via: Online Colleges Guide

14 Apr 2012

Collaborative project: A Wall of Books to celebrate World Book Day

23rd April is World Book and Copyright Day, an initiative from UNESCO to celebrate world literature and promote reading. This year, Mª Jesús García San Martín, a creative English teacher who I really look up to, has had the brilliant idea of celebrating this day by creating a collaborative wall of books using Pinterest

Everybody is invited to join and take part in this project. The aim is to create a literary wall full of book recommendations to promote reading.

If you would like to become a contributor, just register on Pinterest or sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account to pin your favourite book and explain the reason why you like it and other people should read it. All the pins can be embedded in the school or classroom blog, website and wikis.

Información en español sobre el proyecto  en el Blog de TIC en lenguas extranjeras.

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