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


Buenos días: soy antigua alumna de la Escuela de Idiomas de Embajadores de Madrid. Me ha parecido muy bueno este blog por la cantidad de recursos que incorpora. Gracias por compartir. Lo encontré en la página web del Instituto de Tecnologías Educativas y Formación del profesorado.
Carmen Martín

Hi Inma, your blog is an amazing resource, and this post gives a great overview of digital game-based learning.For more in-depth info on Interactive Fiction and lesson plans, check out www.theswanstation.com/wordpress

WOW...This is very interesting!Students these days love electronics and Digital Games are something worth looking into if they really do help to motivate our ELL students.

Kids learn so much when they are having fun!
Thanks for sharing and I know this digital play is something I would like to explore further.

Games are a good way of refreshing mind. People are very crazy for games. They are so much into them that they forget everything while playing. It has both negative as well as positive points. It lets one to show creativity and enhances interactivity. One can also take help from
interactive whiteboards in this process.

Hi Inma - I thought you might be interested in a game I created too. It's a free grammar test based on the classroom grammar gambling game. It's aimed at learners practising on their own.

I was taking a sabbatical from my career as a website producer and was really surprised at how my new (Burmese) students were so competitive. And they loved grammar gambling in the classroom, hence my making an online version!

Hope you think it's interesting :)

- Richard

Good Blog over digital game...Thanks for sharing....

Buenos días,
Soy profesor de clases de refuerzo y tu sitio web me sirve como fuente de recursos para hacer que las clases que enseño sean más atractivas. Me agrada mucho tu trabajo e incluso estoy intentando hacer un blog propio. Los que impartimos clases particulares siempre andamos a la caza de ideas. Muchas gracias de mi parte por todo lo que subes aquí. ¡Un gran abrazo!

Very nice informative article on game..

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