Do you have the same problems in language education?

In COMMENTARY: YOU’RE NOT STUDYING, YOU’RE JUST…, Ravi Purushotma puts forward an idea that educators should embrace and modify entertainment-focused media forms in language education. In order to illustrate and support his opinion, the author takes his own language learning experience, in which he took great advantages of video games in learning German, as an example. Ravi said he was reluctant to learn German in school at the very beginning, because the assignments and textbooks were frustrating and boring, and he found little connection between the assignments and everyday life. These traditional old-school ways of learning languages only brought him a sense of helplessness when he was confronted with lists of isolated vocabulary to memorize. Do you have the same language learning experience as the writer?

What is The Sims?

In this article, the author first introduces the best selling video game The Sims, which is a game designed to simulate normal everyday life (you can download the game here). Players control the daily routines of a virtual family, guiding them through tasks, like managing personal hygiene, finding jobs, and entertaining guests. In the game, players should read the instructions shown on the screen in order to control the characters and make them act just like what we do in the real world.



Characteristics and advantages: This game can be used to gain “learner involvement”, and it serves as a content platform which has both the entertainment value and the educational extensions due to its customizability (this means the game can be modified and changed according to the needs of the educators and learners), interactivity and flexibility.

  1. Players can change the language version of the gameinto their target languages easily.


  1. By using macros, or scripts, educators can rapidly extract the parts of the first language (L1) game data they feel necessary for scaffolding learners and then integrate them as available translations within the second language (L2) version of the game. In this way, students can receive a pop-up explanation which includes an L1 translation if they do not know a word and leave the cursor over the word.
  1. Sometimes there are some polysemic words, so the players have to choose theappropriate meaning according to the context, which can improve the vocabulary retention (Hulstijn, 1992).
  1. Compared to a traditional reading environment, the wrong choices or assumptions will be pointed out and recovered in this video game through interaction.
  1. The materials are personally relevant and useful to the learner so as to attract learners to learn more about that variable.

Besides this kind of video games, the language learning/teaching principle is then developed to other applications, like web page, typing tutors, music, and voice-navigated games. For example, the author replaced his throbber with a randomized German word and its English translation from his German textbook, so that he can learn vocabulary phrases in fragmented time. To some extent, this kind of fragmented vocabulary exposure system might even aid the long-term word retention. In order to engage students, educators also apply music in language class. With 3D spatialized sound technology, educators can add instructional content directly into an audio file, which still maintains a clearly audible distinction. However, challenges like personal musical tastes and intangible song lyrics are still exist in the course of applying music in language education.

Some of our thoughts on the application of Video games, simulations and virtual worlds in language education

Actually, we did not have much experience of using video games in our English class or learning English before. But when we were in primary school, there was a game that aimed at practicing the students’ typing skill. Students should type the English words shown in the lotus leaves in the limited time in order to help the frogs to jump to the leaves. We think this kind of game can also be modified to be more suitable for language teaching and learning.

Based on the article and information we mentioned above, we can find that video games, simulations and virtual worlds are viable and effective ways to learn foreign languages, but there are still some problems or challenges when instructors/learners make use of this kind of approach.


  • Learners can have fun when they are involves in the activities.
  • Simulated language immersion. In thesekinds of games, we can get exposed to the target language by interacting with other people in an authentic context. Additionally, we might gain more practical information instead of limited knowledge in textbooks.
  • Repeated and long-term exposure improvesvocabulary retention.


  • The difficulty of choosing the right games
  • The insufficient guidance from teachers (learners may feel lost and waste their time)
  • The limitation of facilities (usually in a classroom, there is only one computer)
  • The limitation of language points and contents in a video game


  1. Do you have any language learning/teaching experience inapplying video games, simulations and virtual worlds in language learning/teaching? If you have, could you please share it with us?
  2. Could you please evaluatethis kind of approach(video games, simulations and virtual worlds)in language education?(Benefits and Drawbacks) And if you have some methods to conquer the drawbacks, could you share them with us?
  3. As an English teacher, what skills would you use video games, simulations and virtual worlds for (e.g. grammar, listening, speaking, writing, reading, vocabulary learning)? What is the appropriate stage/time period in language education? Do you think this approach is more suitable forin-class teaching or out-of-class teaching?

Recommended videos on Youtube, about video games, simulations and virtual worlds for language study


Edited by Michelle and Una. Thanks for reading!


  1. Hello, Michelle and Una. Ravi Purushotma’ experience of learning German with the assistance of video games really intrigues me. Although there are always prejudices against playing video games, the effectiveness of learning language through digital gaming has been proven to be a new way of learning by many studies. Personally, I don’t have much experience in applying digital gaming in language learning. Maybe the game helping the frogs to jump to the leaves which you have mentioned in your post could be one. My English vocabulary was enlarged unconsciously through typing the English words. From my way of thinking, digital gaming create a fun and pleasant learning environment for learners, allowing them to involve in learning activities in a more effective way. Instead of being restricted in print-based learning materials, learners would have more access to practical knowledge of the target language in virtual world. If this creative way of learning languages were used appropriately, learners must take great advantages of it. However, it must be admitted that the recreational characteristic of digital games tend to distract students from their original purpose of language learning.

    • Hi, Evelyn, thanks for your comment! Actually, I myself also did not have too much this kind of learning experience, just like you. Through related case studies, it is not difficult to point out the affordances and limitations of learning a L2 through playing digital games, but how to avoid potential negative influence brought by digital games? As an English teacher, how to help students focus on their original purpose of language learning? Do you have any idea on this?

    • To make the learning process more goal-oriented, maybe the instructors can assign some learning tasks for students, when incorporating digital games into pedagogical practices.

    • Yes, I agree with you. And I think the tasks can be developed on the basis of the learning items in the games. Thanks for your suggestions!

  2. Hi Michelle and Una. The Sims game sounds great, introducing the gamers to their daily routine life virtually. And it is easy to customize according to the conditions and preferences. I think it would be good bringing some common and useful expressions given that many digital games nowadays only have the limited scope of content for learning with certain words or sentences, which could be drained away the purpose of learning after a period of time. For teachers, I prefer to use simulation games as the adjunct learning materials, recovering and complementing the knowledge learnt in class. But the is that we need to carefully handle the energy students may put in by discretely attract students’ attention to different activities including internet-based learning, classroom-based learning, handicraft making activities, face-to-face interactions etc. to ensure students would not indulge themselves in a certain game.

    • Doreen, your analysis of the pros and cons of gaming through simulation is comprehensive. I agree, in particular, that simulation games are relatively more suitable for language teaching, as the players can customize the setting and the language input is comparatively richer than that of the other games. Your suggestions of other in-class activities, such as handicraft-making and face-to-face interactions are very nice as well, since they are meaningful and fun alternatives that remind students of their important needs – like conversing with others orally in the target language and building up healthy hobbies – so that they can receive the message of indulging less in online games in an effective manner.

    • Hi, Doreen. I do agree with your thoughts on digital games. From digital games like The Sims, which are closer to our daily life, players can gain some much more useful and practical expressions. Besides, I am interested in your idea of applying simulation games in handicraft making activities to teach a L2. Can you give a typical example or more detailed explanation of how to conduct it? I would be very glad to hear more ideas from you.

    • Hello, Michelle. Actually some handicraft making activities are just as simple as its name conveys such as making some cartoon figures or drawing some pictures related to the text having some English sentences to perfect the products, which may cater more to the younger students. But what I want to say is to bring a diverse variety of activities to the course, and digital gaming can be one of them.

    • Oh, I see. Thanks for your ideas, and I think it might be fun and effective teaching approach with the application of interesting activities, like digital gaming.

  3. Thank you, Michelle and Una, for clearly presenting the pros and cons of learning language by video games. To be frank, I am a huge fan of The Sims so that when I see the poster of The Sims, it draws my attention immediately. Initially, I played this games only for entertainment. Someday, I clicked the setting and found that I can change the language into English, so I did it. And it did enlarge my vocabulary since it has more life-related phrases which are seldom taught at school and you can infer the word meaning from the action of your sim.
    Pros: more interesting than the printed dictionary with written meaning; The language use are more relevant to daily life.
    Cons: it is easy for the younger students to be obsessed with the game doing harm to their time arrangement and physical fitness; the vocab it provides are not well-organized and systematic, therefore proper guidance from the teachers are needed.

    • Wow! I am glad to find that you are a big fan of The Sims, and thanks for sharing your experience with us. This is a great game for both entertainment and language learning, actually. I quite agree with your analysis of The Sims’ pros and cons, especially the life-related part of this games. You also mentioned that teachers’ proper guidance are needed, but how would you do to help students use this kind of digital games to improve English learning. Would you apply it as in class activity or out-of-class assignment/activity? How to optimize the language learning/teaching with the application of digital games? I am looking forward to your reply. Thanks!

    • In the first class, introduce the Sims to the students and set an assignment for them to complete a task in the game(like to reach grade 2 in a assigned career) and mark down a few words or phrases they are new to or they find interesting during the process and discuss (spelling display, meaning display, making new sentence out of it, etc.) those in the next class. Some instruction should also be set, like the time limit for doing the task at home(45mins), and probably need the consent and support from the parents. Above are my rough idea.

    • Thanks for your reply! I think you can develop it into a detailed teaching plan and conduct it in the future, if you have the chance, it might work well. Besides, I think you can also include the discussion session and student presentation projects with related topics. In this way, students can also practice and improve their spoken English and communication skills.

    • What great ideas! This sort of teaching activity could be used if students are learning to write narratives – they could describe exactly what it was that they were doing in the Sims and write it up as a story.

  4. After commenting on the post of “can u imagine learning a second language through digital games” and saying that the template language learning games are limited, I was surprised to see the listed games in these post. Then I downloaded The Smith 4 App and played it for a quarter of an hour, which is my only experience in learning language through gaming.
    During the 15min in game, I decorated my room with wallpaper and mat, allocated a new lamp in bedroom, planted peppers, collected revenue etc. and accepted a job as the game assigned me. Each task costs seconds or minutes, and you need to wait for the man in game to accomplish the tasks with either staring at the screen or looking around idly in reality. What I got from this game in this 15 mins are the vocabulary of daily stuffs, and there was seldom any input in terms of grammar or sentence structures (because I’m obsessed in getting tasks done). So I think it is a great challenge to integrate games like this with my lesson as a language teacher.
    However, the possible way I can think of is to1) select games that matches the target teaching goal 2)introduce the game to students as a volunteer tool to intrigue their interest and motivation in learning English

    • Hi, Grace, thanks for your comment!
      I agree with you that games like the Sims can benefit language learners in gaining vocabularies and phrases related to daily life, but have limited functions in teaching grammar and sentence structures. Besides, most teachers will choose to recommend students to play this game out of class, since it is time-consuming.
      I think there may be one method to solve this problem–there many be a book designend about the game strategy (teach players how to play the game)in the target language as well as the teaching of related vocabularies, sentences and grammar that appear in the game..

  5. Hello. I seldom apply digital games to English teaching because I was unable to find suitable games that contain a proper vocabulary or apposite context for my students. The game SIM4 introduced in the article, however, gives me a great surprise. This is what I have been looking for! One of the advantages of this game is the simulation of real life in authentic context. Language material that is involved in the game is very practical and realistic to everyday life. For the senor high school students, its level of difficulty approximately meet with their ability. This game not only can stimulate the students to use what they learn in the class. but also functions as a reminder of the language knowledge and a extension to new knowledge.
    If I conduct a class making use of this game, I would ask them to record any useful expressions from the game, bring them to the class and reuse them by organizing interpersonal in-class activities. Students are reminded of what they have previously learned in class via the game. Later they are encouraged to use in class what the game offer them. This repetition of language exposure in different context will strengthen their memory and less likely to lose them.

    • Hi, chiwei2, thanks for your comment!
      I think you have come up with a good method to apply this kind of digital games in the classroom language teaching.
      Asking students to record the related language points and share them in the class can enanble and encourage students to rememer something useful from the game, rather than forgeting about them after they shut down the computer .

    • Hi, Weichi. I agree that sometimes it is not easy to find a suitable game, which can match the language level of my students. Sometimes what digital games provide is not what students are required to learn.

  6. HI Michelle and Una. Thanks a lot for your effective summary. Actually , in my past teaching experience, I have never used video games and such stimulation for lots of reasons. Because in mainland China, limited by the teaching policy and regulation of government and school, teachers do not have enough freedom to chose their teaching approaches. However, what you mentioned above really reminds me of my childhood . When I first get in touch with computer, I am not very good at type. At that time, I used the typing software to practice my typing speed. I think it is very stimulating because of the cute animals and interesting story.
    In the future, I might introduce the new approach into my teaching as a stimulus. I think a good start is from curiosity. But we can also see the drawbacks of it. There isn’t any appropriate video games that cater for students in different age, and maybe it is difficult to control students when they are absorbed into the game.So I think the evaluation and feedback from students are very important.

    • Hi Lavinia, I agree that the feedback and evaluation from students are very important because they are the people who benefit from digital games, but my concern is each game has its life, no game can live in the flood of newly-emerged games forever and game users we never know when a game will come to an end, therefore it’s hard to stick to a game in the long process of language learning.

    • Hi, Lavinia. I think your are right that teaching policy and regulation of government and schools might be one reason that most mainland students/teachers do not have the experience of applying digital games in learning/teaching a L2. Besides, I also agree with your opinion that students’ evaluation and feedback are important. But how to integrate this kind of games with L2 teaching? Or how to avoid some drawbacks of digital games in L2 instruction? Can you please share us with some of your ideas or rough blueprints for it? I am looking forward to your reply. Thanks!

  7. In response to Q3, I might use the activity “Show and Tell” to encourage students to talk about what they do and see in The Sims. I would also ask them how life is different from, or similar to, their real life, so that I can know more about why the game appeals to them, and how it is beneficial for their learning. Questions on what vocabulary they have learnt can be asked as well, as this can help them recycle the words that they encounter and at the same time promote the game to their classmates. If possible, students can be asked to brainstorm a version more catered to the needs and wants of the Chinese learners, so that they have to configure new situations by bringing in more related vocabulary. That is to say, even though the game itself is restricted in providing language learning opportunities, its context about life is by no means restrictive.

    • Hi, Camie, thanks for your comment!
      Asking students to tell the differences and write down the vocabularies they have learnt from the game is a good way for them to make a summary about what language points they get from the Sims. And asking them to share and discuss, is a good way of turning input into output.

  8. Hello, Michelle and Una, as an English teacher I would prefer to teach low-level and intermediate students English with this kind of digital learning tools because advanced learners usually have a high-level learning autonomy so that they don’t need to a specific tool to illicit their motivation and interests, but for low-level and intermediate students, this kind of language teaching provides more exposure to the language especially in out-of-class environment where they can experience authentic learning materials and relate to what they have learnt. However, tools like entertainment oriented digital gaming in language teaching should be under control to avoid addiction for young age learners because they are not mature enough to judge from right and wrong.

    • Hi, Julie, thanks for your comment!
      Yes. Apart from that, Older language learners tend to have a higher level command of the target language, thus there are not too many games that can meet their needs of improving the language.

  9. I think I will try to employ the practice of digital gaming as an auxiliary method in my future classroom teaching, for the reason that I can give students useful guidance so as to make the learning process more effective and at the same time, monitor their using digital games to make sure students are focused on the task of language learning. For example, students can be asked to use some newly learned words and sentence structures in their game playing. But an obvious problem is that it is not easy to connect what teachers are required to teach according to course aims with what students need in games. Or the language needed in game playing is always fixed and limited, thus restricting what teachers can teach based on the games. Another problem is that assessment is difficult to be conducted. Teachers have no systematic way to know what students have learned and what poses an challenge in their language learning. Considering these concerns, I think I will just use digital gaming occasionally as a way to make certain boring lesson entertaining.

    • Hi Eric, I think you are right that it is hard to conduct the assessment. If the teacher can’t judge what degree do the students have grasp about the knowledge, the following teaching target would be ambiguous, which may lead to a lot of problems.

    • Hi, Eric, thanks for your comment!
      I agree with you that there are difficulties in match the content of the textbooks and course aims with related digital games. And it’s easy to find digital games about colors, animals, shopping which are included in the textbooks of younger learners, but what about some abstract themes, like environmental protection and psychological health?

      And I also want to know that if you use digital games in language teaching in the future, how would you design the course if you only had one computer in the classroom?

    • Yes, I do think that digital games can only be used as a recreational auxiliary teaching aid, but not as a major teaching approach through the syllabus, because teachers will adapt their teaching plan to their students’ needs and lacks in daily teaching. Seeing that rearrange a settled games spends a great deal of time and money, it is impossible to change the games according to students’ real learning situations on time.

    • Hi, Eric, I don’t think the games are suitable for text-oriented classrooms. Since if students know clearly that they are going to have an exam in the future, they prefer to do something which is related to their text and can improve their language level in short period of time. Games are not what they want on class. Games more likely to be used to motivate students and arise their interest in language learning.

  10. Hi, Michelle and Una, thank you for posting such an interesting blog!
    1. Personally speaking, I hardly ever played the video games and I don’t know the experiences I’m going to talk about can be counted as video games or not. Half a year ago, I downloaded an APP called Ying Yu Liu Li Shuo (Speaking Fluent English) in my mobile phone. The user is required to fill several blanks or do the multiple choices after they watched a short cosmetic video which includes numbers of conversations between people. The language adopted by this video is English thus users can actually enhance their English competence.
    2. I think the video games can draw learners’ attentions to the study but they sometimes can be time-consuming and waste of money. Because the questions given to learners are quite easy and if you want to download the game you have to pay small amount of money.
    3. I believe it’s more suitable for out-of-class learning since just as I mentioned above, it’s quite time-consuming and learners who lack of self-control will be easily addicted into these games.

    • Hi, Alice, thanks for your comment!
      Actually, I think Speaking Fluent English is not a kind of digital games, but it is a useful educational app with the combination of language learning and videos.
      The concern you mentioned is right to some extent. So when teachers conduct digital gaming into language teaching, they have to consider how to control the time and avoid the potential negative impacts on learners, though it is quite difficult sometimes.

  11. Hi Michelle and Una! I was a gamer when I was a teenager and the games brought me a lot of happiness. When I encountered words that I have never seen or the NPC dialogs that I do not understand in the game, I always figure them out by myself, otherwise I cannot follow the plot or complete the tasks. Surprisingly, my English has improved greatly by playing games, all without any painful learning process. The reason, I think, is that learning English by playing games is a proactive learning process that works better than any passive learning approach. However, after a certain time, I found the game is not so attractive for me as before because the words and sentences appeared in the game were similar, which made me lost my interests. Therefore, I think if a digital game can be designed with different levels of the lexicon, it will be more suitable for the application in language learning. As a future English teacher, I’m sure I will introduce the digital games to my students as their out-of-class learning materials and maybe use it as a resource for vocabulary.

    • Hi, Danella! I am glad to find you another gamer who learned English through digital games. I think you are right that the knowledge in games sometimes is too limited to improve higher level learners’ English. There should be a kind of grading/classifying system designed according to the learning developmental pattern in digital games, through which learners can be exposed to more and more difficult knowledge items, so that they might be able to get improvements. Thanks for your comment and inspiration!

  12. Hi Michelle and Una, thanks for your post. This shares a similar opinion as Alice and Doreen’s post, which concludes the pro and cons of the games in language learning.

    Though games have some drawbacks in language learning, I will try to manipulate it in teaching. Since most young students are quite interested in games, and if teachers can combine the games with learning target effectively, it will not only arouse students’ interest, but also enhance the learning outcomes.

    As a teacher, I will choose the game and aviod violent games for students. There are some games are designed for social interaction, such as Happy Farm. People can grow and steal some plants from others’ farm. It will be better if the game can incorparate more English words and I will ask the students to form a group. They can discuss their achievements and the new vocabularies that they have learnt from the game.

  13. Thank you for bringing up the topic of learning through games and sharing the interesting games from youtube. unfortunately, I haven’t used any games to learn English till now as I am kind of an old-school English learner, preferring to learn English through watching English movies and listening to English songs. However, what your posted and what has been discussed in the video do convince me to try to include game in my future teaching. I remember that some of my boys students had already known the words triple and quadri before I taught them as they had been exposed to these two words in the game many times evertime they do triple kill and quadri kill. Also, according to what the video has introduced about the river woods, it will give deeper impression to the students about the words foggy and mist. Moreover, watching the pictures and background setting help students to distinguish the foggy and mist, which may help students to use words more accurately. Therefore, games could be facilitating in language teaching, especially in vocabulary teaching.

  14. Hi Michelle and Una, thanks for your post. I think the video games you mentioned above are quite interesting. I have to say I rarely have experience in applying video games during language learning or teaching. From my perspective, the size of the classroom should also be considered as a significant aspect in using video games during language teaching, since the teacher have to pay attention to all the students’ mastery over the video game during the class.

    Actually, I think this approach is suitable for both in-class and out-of-class teaching. However, in in-class teaching, it might take a lot time and the teaching efficiency might be low. If it is an out-of-learning approach, the teacher can ask students what they grasp from the video game in class and students can share their knowledge with each other immediately. Thus, the student can not only get to know his or her own point of view but also what other students’ learn.

    • Hi, Grace, the point of classroom size you mentioned is quite meaningful. I agree that the application of video games to language education needs the guidance of teachers and the supervision of parents to guarantee the effectiveness of their learning, especially for early children learners. Therefore, a small number of students in the class would allow teachers to allocate more attention and time to guide learners’ learning process in the games, enhancing the education function of that game-form technique.

  15. Hi, Michelle and Una, thanks for your post. Actually, I was quite doubtful about the education function of entertainment-focused video game until I read your article. Though I seldom choose video games for relaxing or even learning, Sims4 here still attracts me a lot.
    I seldom apply video games to learning or teaching due to limited resource in this field. However, I would like to embrace this new teaching tool if both entreatment and effective teaching could be guaranteed. Many educators show their worries about if the entertainment feature will overshadow the eduction function of video games for young-age learners. To overcome this problem, developing some collaborative games which allows parens’ participation would be a good idea.
    As an English teacher, I’d like to employ this techniques in the beginner’s in-class activity with the supervision of teachers, especially in the vocabulary instruction I have to admit its benefit of stimulating their learning interest and more willingly engaging into English context.

    • Hi, Fiona, your insight into the relationship between entertainment and education appeals to me much. I think they are more or less overlapping each other since their ultimate goal is to educate. But still, some differences could be also identified. Educational recreation would function more as a facilitator, while teaching in class is the mainstream.However powerful the games would be in language learning, the input and guidances in classroom teaching is prior and plays an irreplaceable role. Without this, learners would be confused in terns of what to learn and how to make the most of the games they play.

  16. Hi, Michelle and Una, thank you very much for your posting on virtual games in language learning. But I am afraid that I have to disappoint you since few experience of teaching in life have something to do with the application of games in learning.

    In terms of this approach, I think they are appreciated mainly because the learning setting it creates. In such a game, a virtual society has been set up and is coordinate with what the players experience in the real world. So a sense of identification has been created and it would not be a long time before the players become involved in the games. However, it may cause such a self-control problem when players are involved in this game. They would get addicted in it and fail to control the time they should have spent on playing games, which could have been allocated to studying instead.

    If I am an English teacher, and if I have the chance to apply games in class teaching, I would like to utilize this approach in vocabulary learning. There should be words and expressions to which players are frequently exposed to, in this point, in order to accomplish the task, players have to encounter them repeatedly, more like a drilling practice, and they have to do the task according to the hints and instructions which are normally English. In this sense, their vocabulary would be enhanced. Drawing upon this view, it would be much better to introduce this approach at the beginning of the learning, for vocabulary is the basis, so beginners could get familiar with the new language through playing games. With the time and the content concerned, I think it is more suitable to let students play the games as an out-of-class activity. In class, knowledge they have to learn such as words, expressions has been taught and after class, they could relax themselves by playing games to recap what they have learnt, and maybe, to examine to what degree they have acquired.

    • Hi, Nicole, thanks for your comment!
      I agree with you that most digital games are suitable for vocabulary learning, since during the time of palying digital games, it is hard for most of learners to pay enough attention to the grammar and sentence structures that appear in the game.

  17. Thank you for your interesting post! It reminds me of a game we played last semester, in our literature class, our teacher recommended us that game in order to help us gain literature knowledge and practice them while playing.

    In my opinion, this kind of approach have several advantages which can make contributions to our second language learning. First of all, it creates a relaxing learning environment and an interesting virtual world for our learners. Students are more willing to face the challenges and difficulties we meet when learning some new knowledge, and meanwhile, making use of these knowledge to finish the game. In addition, it increases student’s learning motivation. When playing video games, they can both learn to play and play to learn, making studying 2L a less boring process. Therefore, they are motivated to learn more things, such as new vocabularies and phrases. As for the drawbacks, I think that this kind of teaching approach could only be applied in small-sized class because it is really time consuming and waste of energy for teachers to evaluate everyone’s learning results and monitor students.

    As an English teacher, I would like to train student’s vocabulary and grammar skills with the help of video games, and my target students are middle school students. I may assign them to finish this special learning task out of class, asking them to go over and test what they have learnt in class.

    • Hi, Lux! You are right that the recommended games in our literature class are typical but simple types of digital games. Thanks for your comprehensive analysis of digital gaming’s pros and cons. And I quite agree with your suggestion of applying digital gaming in small-sized class, which might be easier for teachers to control the activity, especially when teachers apply them as in-class tasks instead of our-of-class assignments. Besides, you tend to use digital games for reviewing and consolidating learnt knowledge in class, I think it might work better than boring drilling tasks.

    • I’m curious – what were the games from the literature class? Can you provide a link?

  18. I have never tried digital games in both L2 learning and teaching experiences, after reading this article, the Sims 4 seems like a good choice to help learners learn English vocabularies in the game. But to me, I agree that to some extent, games are useful carriers to teach students practical
    and daily used language, however, I think the games may be suitable for out-of class learning rather than in-class one. To play games on class requires teacher to have a strong ability in class controlling otherwise the games can be time consuming. And also, the lack of suitable game resources for class teaching seems a problem for this teaching method. In the future, I am not sure whether I will adopt games in my teaching or not. If I will, I may use it in vocabulary teaching. I hope in today’s class, I can change my mind about digital games on class, and get some inspiration in my future teaching.

    • Hi, Lissie. I think you are right that applying digital games in class requires teacher to have the strong ability of class controlling, especially for young learners who tend to lack self-control ability. Actually, with the information and knowledge I gained from the previous studies or examples, I believe its pros over cons, though this kind of teaching tools need careful application to avoid its potential negative impacts. Thanks for your comment, and I hope you can get some practical ideas from today’s class.

    • Hi, Lissie. I haven’t employed this new practice in my teaching before either. The first reason is that I never knew digital games could facilitate language learning. And also, I was afraid that my students indulging in playing games. But these three relevant posts and our online discussion have really changed my mind. Why not have a try? Just as you said, we teachers can make a meticulous lesson plan in advance to make it more effective and reduce the downsides to a minimum.

  19. Hi Michelle and Una, the video game “The Sims” you mentioned is great, as it creates a virtual world where learners can immerse into and have interaction with characters in it, and learning L2 language connects to the daily life, thus makes learning L2 language more meaningful. Besides, the game is customized, so learners can make shifts between their mother tongue and the target language, in this way the game provides a scaffolding for the beginning learners, thus makes it easy to start and to follow. Furthermore, the inappropriate choices will be corrected in the game, and learners can get feedback and make the right choice, which is very helpful to gain accuracy about the vocabulary.

    Personally I do not have much experience in learning English through video games, but I will try “The Sims” in the future as for its practical functions in learning language.

  20. Hi, Michelle and Una, thanks for clearly presenting the pros and cons of learning language in gaming. Personally, I do not have too much experience in language learning in gaming. Only when I was in primary school, I tried to play a typing game which consisted of English words or phrases that we learned before. Time was limited in the process of typing, so I remembered at that time I paid less attention to the speed of typing rather than words’ memory. It seemed funny, but it reminded me that if one is so desire to win the game, then the learning efficiency must be decreased in a game learning. As for kids, I’m afraid that they couldn’t realize the key point in game learning — focusing on game only, instead of the learning in the game.
    It’s an interesting topic, I would like to share it with you.

  21. Hi Michelle and Una, thanks for your wonderful post. I think the pictures involved are really interesting. Actually, I don’t have any teaching experience, not to mention the experience of teaching students with digital games. But i think teaching students with a digital game based teaching approach is very innovative, and it can do good to students as long as the content and form of the game is suitable for the students. Maybe if we use this kind of approach, we should pay much attention to how to cater to students’ need as well as to arouse their motivation.

    • Hi Jiaying, I agree with you that selecting the right and appropriate game is essential to the successful use of the game. And that is also what should be paid more attention to right now when teachers want to use it as a way to teach students.

  22. When I was in elementary school, I had ever played the second game introduced in this passage. Virtually, this game was an auxiliary practice game of Kingsoft Type, focusing on improving people’s typing speed. I think this game, to some extent, can improve the speed of typing effectively. Nevertheless, it has limited function on improve second language learners’ vocabulary, given that in this series of games, only the English words without Chinese meaning explanation show up, learners cannot learn the meaning of the English words, let alone the usage or collocation. It is like a drill of vocabulary, but its precondition is that the learner has already known the meaning of those words. Otherwise, this kind of drill is meaningless. Therefore, I suppose that the games should be developed into a way where learners can develop their basic language skills and communicative skills if teacher wants to use games as the main teaching aids in daily teaching activities. As an English teacher, I think those games can only be used to learn vocabularies with limited functions. Compared with other teaching methods, video games and digital games have less efficiency in helping teach, so I am afraid that I will not use it as major teaching approach before those games developed deeper and further in the future.

  23. Hi, , thanks for your post!
    I’ve also played the frog game when I was very little, and I still remember that there was another one in which there are many balloons with some words on it which need to be found and stabbed as soon as you receive the audio playing the words, which is very much like the frog one. And back then when there was not many mobile phones and computers, it was still played through a kind of video game machine. I love that game because that kept me feeling excited and therefore wanted to do my best to pass each challenge to see how hard it could get to the end of it.

    During that process, I was really motivated by the game. However, the drawback is that I remember paying very little attention to the vocabularies themselves, for all I wanted to do is to pass every challenge attentively. This kind of distraction may lead students to another direction-the purpose of gaming itself, to entertain.

    Nevertheless, I think as the technology develops with time passing by, tools like video games, simulations and virtual world will someday become an integral part of language teaching, however still as a newly emerging way now. Its benefits outweigh its drawbacks. The point now for the pedagogical field is to design a kind of game that can take into account both being entertaining and educational.

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