Post by Georgina, Mira, Michelle, Shanice and Alex

Familiar with this remix of sound effects? How many of them can you recognize? I bet most of you are veterans of the virtual battlefield!

Have you ever considered learning a second language by playing digital games? Well, you should have! Although most people hold a rather negative view towards digital games, there are various researches revealing that gamers can enrich their corpus of second language (in this case, English) while immersing themselves in virtual games. Chik (2014) explored how gamers implement autonomy in the community through gameplay while viewing it both as recreation and language learning practices from 5 dimensions, including location, formality, pedagogy, locus of control and trajectory.

  • Location

Basically, L2 gaming occurs either in a real-life context or virtual context. Gamers can play autonomously simply by changing locations so as to create an authentic and fully immersive language learning environment. For instance, some are in favor of real interactions with other gamers in English in physical locations like student halls (Figure 2), whereas others opt to play English games online (Figure 1) and engage in para-text production, (e.g.: translating original English gaming texts to Chinese version).

Figure 1. Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

Figure 2. Photo by from Pexels

  • Formality

It is generally accepted that L2 learning through L2 gaming is not a formal learning practice. However, in spite of that many players regard gaming pleasure as the first priority, some gamers will nevertheless turn this incidental gaming experience into an intentional learning activity. They may consciously apply former learning strategies learned in school to supplement their L2 learning in educational game-wares and COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) digital games. Thus, ultimately, this intensional learning can reflect a certain degree of formality.

  • Pedagogy

It is shown that L2 learning can be achieved through textual and social interaction within the gaming communities, and gamers also take up instructional and advisory roles. Suggestions, such as how to use L2 games to learn second language can be found in the game-external forums. That is to say, gamers are language advisers, teachers and translators for each other. They are pedagogical resources providers in the gaming communities.

  • Locus of control

Locus of control shows whether the L2 learning is self-directed or other-directed. Self-directed gamers take the initiative in learning second language. They have their personal preferences on games. Therefore, it directs their L2 learning to specific directions, such as the acquisition of specialist vocabulary. Other-directed gamers are prone to accept advice from others on L2 learning.

  • Trajectory

Trajectory refers to managing gaming and learning in a long run. A trajectory can be created by making progression in a game series through all the editions, choosing a preferred gaming language, switching between game genres and changing games within the same game genre. Conversely, a trajectory imposes influence on the gamers’L2 learning. It also relates to the age and gaming practices of the gamers, many of whom learn to manage their L2 gaming as they get older and more experienced.

L2 learning through gameplay can happen in a wide variety of ways. L2 players can improve their target language in different ranges such as the enhancement of digital literacy and increasing socialization. However, not all successful games have educational values. Limitations like unstructured materials, and violent or pornographic elements may cause negative effect on L2 players. Some affordances and limitations of L2 learning in digital games are listed below:


  • The accumulation of literacy

Gee and Hayes (2011) suggest that gamers can accumulate literacy experiences through reading and creating para-texts in games, such as translating L2 games. Lexical sophistication, lexical diversity and syntactic complexity can be understood in the context rather than in isolation.

  • The variety of interactions in different game communities

According to Chik (2014), the varieties of location in games stimulate L2 learners to engage in different interactions where L2 learners are given chances and spaces to use L2 for cooperation.

  • Facilitating intentional learning

A natural self-learning of L2 occurs over the course of online gameplay, such as writing game walkthrough and strategy guides. Though most people play L2 games for fun, the interests can be a long-term motivation for them to apply learning strategies and encourage intentional learning.

Here is a funny video of the interaction between Japanese and American gamers, check it out!

Source of video:

For Mainland users, please refer to the link below if you can’t access to VPN:


  • The lack of structured materials and instructions

Compared with classroom learning, the learning materials and pedagogy in L2 gaming are unstructured, which require more autonomy from learners. Moreover, some game-related jargons are not practical, and they are only imagined and created in certain gaming contexts. Gamers are less likely to use them in daily communication.

  • The monotonicity on learning contents

What gamers can learn through L2 gaming is largely restricted to the content of the game. For example, playing “NBA 2K” means they will mainly have exposure to registers of sports.

  • Controversial contents in video games

Teenagers can be misguided by the pornographic and violent elements contained in some games and it will bring negative impacts to gamers if without regulations.

  • Indulgence in video games

Learning L2 through gameplay does not have an orthodox place in East Asia and is only seen as addictive and non-educational. The balance for language study and playing games is hard to control especially for those less self-disciplined students.


  • Have you ever played L2 digital games? If yes, can you share with us your experiences of gaining L2 knowledge while playing games?
  • Do you think the advantages of this approach outweigh disadvantages? Can you further elaborate?
  • How do you think the prospect of the application of digital games in L2 learning?

70 thoughts on “Digital Gaming, A Facilitator or Deterrent of L2 learning?

  1. To be honest, I have never played any L2 digital games. But when my cousin played the digital game(I can’t remember the name of it), I overheard “double-kill” this kind of English words.
    I think the advantages outweigh disadvantages. The most important thing is motivation. With years of learning and practice, why can’t English learner master this language? Because it is dull and boring. However, if they can gain L2 knowledge while playing games, the progress they make is spectacular. Their love and passion play very import role. Besides, they can accumulate a lot words and practice English.
    The prospect of the application of digital games in L2 learning is good as long as it is supervised and the games should be educational as well as entertaining. Then it will be extremely popular among L2 learner.

    • Yes, I think another L2 digital games I play recently is BnB M. According to the descriptions on Google Store it is a game that you “Grab a water balloon and make a splash”. You need to use water balloon to trap your enemies and save your teammates who are trapped. I downloaded this game mainly for fun, because that was game I played on the computer when I was still in primary school. I think it’s quite interesting to see this new version of games on the phone which I had dreamed when I was little. And the English instructions are also great by pointing out the use of each tools and the rules of different kinds of the games. But as this is a game created by Korean company, many players on this game speak Korean. So when I participate in the waiting room, I could only figure out a few words like “Be quick ready” in Korean. So I think it didn’t offer much help to learn L2 but it is really fun for me to replay this game after so many years.

      I think there will be more disadvantages. As a new way of pedagogy, it is still at infancy stage. The stereotypes from the parents and school administrators are hard to deal with. The pressure of teaching formal language knowledge will leave no room for this method. Moreover, the online games are unstructured, which may influence of the efficiency of teaching. And for motivation, I think for kids who lack self-control, it will only deteriorate their interests for learning but made them more addicted to playing computer games.

      It is a good prospect to include digital games in L2 learning. But at present stage, it may only be a supplementary approach. In the future, with the improvement of the creation of better educational digital games and more advanced techniques, I think the digital games will be more frequently used and easier to accept.

    • Thank you for your comment, Betty! Yes, I cannot agree more that motivation and passion play a rather decisive role in English learning. Compulsory learning from textbooks and other required materials is far from enough as there is insufficient autonomy and initiative through this process. Thus, digital gaming can be a really good supplementary tool for self-learning, considering that gamers can learn English spontaneously and also with huge interest in it.

  2. Sorry i might push the wrong button to reply(it’s unable to delete).maybe you can respond here.

    And for Betty, I think the game your cousin played must be Honor of Kings, which was not a L2 digital games as the large proportion of the language used in this game is Chinese.

    • Thank you for your comment Connor. That sounds an interesting game! So you need to team up with other people in that game, I wonder have you ever communicated with those Korean gamers? I agree with you that digital games for language learning is still at its infancy stage, and there is still a long way to go to change people’s mindsets on this approach.

  3. What a nice post with interesting multimodal elements! Personally, I haven’t got any L2 digital gaming experience and I tend to think that the disadvantages of this language learning approach outweigh its advantages. Based on what you have listed above, I think the biggest problem of L2 digital gaming is the uncontrollable learning (either active or passive) contents and time spent on it. For most of the teenagers I have taught, if they are allowed for digital gaming as they like, it’s very likely that they may get addicted to the games at the expense of learning something they are supposed to learn for more intended purposes. Another problem is that we can ensure what gamers learn in digital games is diverse, logical and critical, as this digital context is too “wild” to control.
    However, I tend to believe that the prospect of application of digital games in L2 learning will be positive mainly because of the unstoppable advances of technology and learning pedagogies. Hopefully, there will be an increasing number of digital games that are specifically designed for L2 learners in the future so as to maximize their motivation in L2 learning as well as provide them with a rich and beneficial environment where language and intercultural learning can occur.

    • Thank you Daniel, I’m glad that you found it interesting! Indeed, the affordance of L2 learning through digital gaming is very depend on learner’s self-discipline. And we can imagine that parents will be so rejective on this approach because indulgence on digital games is still a big problem among mainland Chinese teenagers.
      But I also agree with you that the prospect will be positive, since digital games are still developing rapidly in China. Hopefully more education-oriented games will be designed in the future so that the learning contents can be better controlled.

    • I agree with you. And I hope games can be utilized reasonable in teaching, not merely for arousing students’ attention and interest. This needs teacher’s effort and unique techniques.
      To be honest, I don’t have confidence in combining the digital games with my course content. It’s hard to control and resist addiction to games among students.

      If required to do so. I still stick to those games intentionally designed for educational purpose, namely, games can facilitate the absorption of subject knowledge and common-sense knowledge in their daily life.

  4. I play some L1 games but I didn’t have experiences of playing any L2 digital games before. But personally I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages as long as gamers display some degree of autonomy. Firstly, playing L2 games is far more interesting than having repetitive L2 drills undoubtedly. Gamers are motivated to expose themselves in the L2 context for a longer period of time and therefore have more opportunities to practice their L2. Besides, the learning happens in a more relaxing manner compared with traditional learning settings, which may reduce the learning anxiety of L2 learners and boost their confidence in L2 learning. However, this approach has it own downside. I think some gamers lacking self-discipline may addict to games. Even I myself had addicted to some digital game in university. I played around 10 hours a day for some days. Then I had to uninstall the game.
    As for the prospect of L2 digital games, I hold that they will be more wildly used in the future teaching as technology tends to become increasingly important in people’s lives and educators can definitely not ignore it in future teaching. An ideal way to address the conflicts between L2 digital games and traditional teaching is to combine them for education purposes reasonably.

    • Thanks for your comment Coco. Honestly I have the similar experience with you! I was so addicted to a mobile game when I was in university, I sometimes even got so upset when I lost the game. I deleted that game to stay rational at the end as well. Being self-discipline is always an issue, even to adults. So it is the constraint for L2 learning through digital games.
      It’s true that L2 digital games are more interested and motivated for learners, and it can be a good way to supplement traditional teachings.

  5. Well, I don’t play L2 games much. A close one I play is Overwatch. There are many heroes which players can choose from, with each has different battle skills and catchphrases. After playing for several times, I even can remember some, such as “it’s high moon”, “justice rains from above”, which I think can a little bit enlarge my vocabulary.
    For me, I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Games can provide a more authentic context, where the use of language is more meaningful, which can help learners retain the learned words and phrases. Also, when meeting with difficulties, gamers can resort to others for help in a either a forum or a chatter box. By interacting with others, they can constantly receive authentic feedback and sometimes encouragement, as a result of which their confidence and willingness to use the language can be increased. As for the disadvantages, I think by the careful guidance of teachers, all these listed disadvantages can be ameliorated.
    As for the prospect, since we have entered the digital era, incorporating digital games in language learning may become a tendency. But how to incorporate that in formal language leaning class is still a question. With no permission from both schools and parents, it is hard for teachers to do this.

    • Thanks for your comment Flora. Yes, digital games can provide a more authentic context. Just like the video in this post, American and Japanese gamers can directly talked to each other with VR technology. It was so real and I even want to try that game just for practicing my speaking.
      In this digital era, we can not ignore this approach. I think it can be supplementary materials for classroom instructions at this stage.

  6. Thank you for your sharing!

    I am sorry I do not have the similar experience of playing L2 digital games, but I think the advantages of this approach outweigh its disadvantages. Since digital games are what most of students are interested in, integrating them into English learning can arouse their interest in language learning and motivate them a lot, thus improving their learning efficiency. But this approach also has some problems. For example, young learns may become addicted to playing games due to lack of self-discipline. In that case, playing digital games will negatively influence their language learning. But luckily, if teacher can provide students with correct guidance, this kind of negative influence can be minimized. Hence, in general, this approach will be conducive to learners as long as they are guided carefully.

    As for the prospect of the application of digital games in L2 learning, I think it has a bright future. Although it has some limitations like indulgence, actually game developers have noticed those problems and they have been making efforts to solve them. As far as I know, now some games have a “teenager model” under which gamers can only spend a limited time on playing games every day. I think that is a good start of solving the disadvantages of online gaming. In that way, gamers can enjoy the language learning benefits while playing digital games without being negatively affected by game addiction.

    • Thanks for your sharing Sophia! You’re right that learning L2 through digital games can arouse students’ interests though it has some constraints.
      It’s also inspiring that you brought up the “teenager mode” in the games nowadays. I know that in some games, teenagers can not assess to the game if they play overtime under this mode. I think it has been an effective way to keep teenagers away from indulgence, and it should be adopted more widely so that this constraints of this approach can be solved.

  7. I have to admit that I’m not really into digital games, so I hardly had the experience of playing L2 games. Personally, I still hold a quite negative attitude that the drawbacks of this learning approach outweigh the advantages. Firstly, it might be a time-consuming and inefficient way to learn L2. Most people still play digital games for recreational purposes, and due to the loose language materials, it is still unclear how much linguistic knowledge can players acquire when engaging in a game. Secondly, for teenagers, especially for those who lack self-discipline, learning English through playing digital games may become one of their excuses to play games unscrupulously. But most of them just having fun with the virtual world without caring about the meanings of the English words, as what my little brother did. Thirdly, the rudeness of the digital game can also be a huge problem. While we can’t guarantee that the players will actually learn L2 through playing digital games, the negative impact of the cruel and irresponsible killing on teenagers is clear.

    However, I still hold a positive attitude toward the prospect of application of digital games into L2 learning as long as there will be some appropriate video games designed specifically for language learning. What’ more, the monitor roles of parents and teachers should not be ignored.

    • Thanks for your sharing Yvaine. I agree with most people play games just for fun and the language materials in digital games are loose. I did play L2 games before and I also don’t think I gained much linguistic knowledge. Maybe the reason is like what you said, I didn’t carry the purpose of learning while playing games and the potential learning experience is ignored.
      I also agree with you that if parents and teachers can play the role of monitor, this approach can be developed more positively and effectively.

  8. I am sorry that I haven’t played any L2 digital games yet. But I have learned something about this L2 digital games because some of my friends are keen on playing LOL (League of Legends) and Glory of Kings.
    I think the advantages would, of course, outweigh the disadvantages. The gamers would accumulate a variety of words and phrases in context, for example, “You have been stained.””Your team has destroyed the turret.” Also, gamers with different L1 would interact with their teammates and communicate with other community members using English in very autonomously and actively.
    As for the prospect of the application of digital games in L2 learning, I would say it has excellent potential and competitiveness in the future ELT curriculum. But some adaptations should be made to protect students form their drawbacks and potential negative effects.

    • Thank you for your sharing Manty. The examples you shared support the idea that gamers may learn the word like “stained”, “turret”, but it is limited in that context. It is interesting to see people communicate with each other using different varieties of English actively. Learners can access to cross-culture communication experience in digital gaming and I agree with you that learning L2 through digital games have excellent potential.

  9. I didn’t play many kinds of L2 digital games before, maybe just a few, but there are many Chinese games containing some foreign slogans. For example, “Ready? Go!”. But I don’t think I learned some knowledge through it. I have been playing a Chinese game for one year and its context is in Japan so the NPCs sometimes speak Japanese. But I didn’t learn any Japanese even though I have heard it for thousands of times.

    As for the advantages and disadvantages, it depends on how we use it. As this is a L2 digital game, it provides L2 language environment and exposure and facilitates language learning. When we play with other gamers, it also helps to build a new identity in a game community and promotes interactions between gamers. However, the game is first created for recreational purposes rather than pedagogical purposes I think. The suitable learning materials are limited and learning process also requires high learner autonomy.
    How do you think the prospect of the application of digital games in L2 learning?
    It’s motivating to apply digital games in L2 learning as a supplementary activity. Monitoring from instructors and parents is necessary though.

    • Thanks for comment Vanessa. I share the similar experience with you. I didn’t think I gain much L2 knowledge as well though I played English and Japanese games before. I think the reason maybe I didn’t play for learning, and I didn’t aware the potential learning in digital games. When I met some vocabulary I didn’t understand while playing L2 games, I didn’t care, I just skipped it. So those second knowledge didn’t leave much impression on me.
      But in the literature I read in this post, there was a case that a student wanted to study law, so he made the effort to create an immersive personal environment filled with English-language crime and court games to enrich his legal vocabulary. So if people can be autonomous and be aware of the learning through digital games, this approach can be really effective.

  10. I haven’t played any kind of L2 games before. But I do think it is a great way to facilitate L2 learning, it can provides you with different contexts, and as it is gaming, the anxiety of language speaking will be reduced compared to the classroom setting.
    The application of online games in L2 curriculum can motivate students to learn the target language, and some games such as The Sim can ensure real time authentic interaction which is beneficial to language practicing.

    • Thank you for sharing your idea, Tiffany! I think you have mentioned a very important point of view concerning L2 speaking anxiety. It is quite true that some students are too shy to speak out in classes. If they do not answer teacher’s questions immediately, they may feel embarrassed before their whole classmates and this frustrated experience would make student less confident in speaking. While in the game setting, the virtual environment does not require students to respond so quickly and he or she does not need to speak in front of a large number of people.
      Hope we can enjoy in The Sim!

  11. Thank you for sharing such an interesting topic.

    Unfortunately, I am not so into digital games no mater L1 and L2, so I don’t have any experience of gaining L2 knowledge while playing games. However, I have ever heard from my friend who is crazy about LOL (League of Legends) that it is beneficial for him to build confidence and identity of speaking English through chatting with teammates on US serves when studying in America, even though he just acquired a few game terms and simple sentences. I realized the possibility of learning a language through digital games from his experience.

    I think it is a complex task to evaluate this approach. On one hand, its advantages will be in a superior position when beginners have little interest in their L2, since it is a good choice to motivate learners to find pleasure in the study. On the other hand, its disadvantages will be more obvious, especially for young learners who are short of self-discipline and easy to indulge in games. And the result will definitely turn out to be just the opposite of their wish.

    Even so, I still believe that the prospect of the application of digital games in L2 learning is positive. Although the society and parents have a lot of deep-seated prejudice against digital games in current situations, more and more education-oriented online games will breathe new life into formal instructions.

    • Hi, Carina! Thank you for your comment. One important point you’ve mentioned in your friend’s case is that he has built confidence and the identity of an English speaker through chatting with other teammates in the gaming community. And I agree with your dialectical evaluation on both advantages and disadvantages. Indulgence and game addiction is the huge problem among teenagers around the globe, and learners who have the intention to learn L2 while playing digital games will be prone to benefit from the gaming experience.
      And hopefully we still have faith in the positive prospect in the application of digital games in L2 learning.

  12. Hi, Carina! Thank you for your comment. One important point you’ve mentioned in your friend’s case is that he has built confidence and the identity of an English speaker through chatting with other teammates in the gaming community. And I agree with your dialectical evaluation on both advantages and disadvantages. Indulgence and game addiction is the huge problem among teenagers around the globe, and learners who have the intention to learn L2 while playing digital games will be prone to benefit from the gaming experience.
    And hopefully we still have faith in the positive prospect in the application of digital games in L2 learning.

  13. Thank you for the post!

    I have never played L2 digital games before, but I’d like to try it because the video indeed arouses my interest.

    For gamers in different age groups, the advantages and disadvantages might not be quite the same. For younger learners, without proper guidance and supervision, they could indulge in playing games and ignore L2 learning. However, for mentally mature learners, they have the ability to make sensible judgments and thus know how to balance playing and learning. So if my students are children or teenagers, I might think twice before introducing such L2 learning practice.

    • Thanks for your comment, Aria. As you said that learning L2 through digital games is not suitable for all age groups, teachers have to factor in side-effects of such L2 learning approach. Since we don not have a sound and well-designed curriculum in which such approach can fit, teachers are supposed to be conventional in language teaching, considering some less disciplined young students. As for disciplined upper graders, it may be a good choice for them to learn authentic vocabulary and conversation.

  14. Yes, I do have experience of playing L2 digital games such as Life is Strage, The Room series, Her Story, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Valiant Hearts: The Great War and so on. Most of them are narrative adventure games which contain colourful plot and a lot of dialogues and narratages. In order to get better gaming experience, I am willing to look up each unfamiliar word in the dictionary. And I think my reading compentence has been improved with a larger command of vocabulary. So I think it is helpful for L2 learning.
    I think the advantages outweigh disadvantages mostly because I am a big fan of digital games and was benefit a lot from game playing, so my opionion may be subjective. Although one game can be monotonic, there are various kinds of games with different contexts (especially single-player games).
    However, I don’t think this approach can work well in Mainland China because of the tight education schedule and test-oriented lectures. And maybe it would be better to incorporate the approach into college L2 learning, because college students possess better self-control. The approach can be transmited as an optional assignment, for example, teachers can recommend some good digital games but not for mandatory assignment, because students with different personalities may not benefit from playing games.

  15. Thanks for your comment, Charlotte. Glad to hear that you have benefited a lot from gameplay. A good game involves well-designed plots, characters and contexts, in which players have to make efforts to clear all missions set by game developers. In the process of gameplay, players would encounter new words in very authentic contexts. By looking up those words on the spot or later on, players can absolutely acquire new words. Additionally, in order to clear missions in every stage, players have to understand conversations of characters in the virtual world, which also improves players’ reading and listening competence. Besides, writing walkthrough and game strategies for other players after clearing all missions also enhances players’ writing skill.
    Admittedly, Mainland schools are not ready to accept gameplay approach, because the test-oriented school system determines the school curriculum that is designed mainly for getting high scores.

  16. Actually, I have no experience of playing L2 digital games before. But I still think there are more disadvantages than advantages. For one thing, students may easily get addictive to gameplay, which may exert bad influence on their studies. Students, especially at lower grades, do not have enough self-control, so they are likely to spend a lot of time on games and delay studies. For the other, students may be misled. That’s because they lack the ability of distinguishing between rightness and wrongness, which causes that they are possibly affected when they are exposed to the gaming environment with pornographic and violent contents.

    In spite of the facts mentioned above, I still hold a positive attitude towards the application of digital games in L2 learning. The main reason is that every industry will be characterized with the exclusive features in that era. Since now it is an information era, and digital games is popular among people, so learning L2 through digital games has the potential to be one of the innovative and successful language learning methods in the future if more efforts are made to create a more beneficial and educative gaming environments for gaming-players.

    • Thank you for your comment, Jiaxin. Indeed, students at a very young age is short of self-discipline and discernment, so the they should be instructed when teachers integrate L2 digital games in the language learning. And the games should be properly chosen, making sure that the pornographic and violent contents has been filtered. And I agree with you that there’s a tendency in this information era that digital games can facilitate language learning if it’s appropriately introduced into the class.

  17. Thank you for sharing us this interesting topic. I once tried to play a kind of digital game named “King of Glory” but gave it up finally, since I found it quite complicated and I was also impatient to learn. I think this game indeed provides various L2 learning opportunities, for example, words and sentences like”An enemy has been slain”, “legendary”, “shut down” are familiar to players.
    I believe the benefits of pedagogical use of digital game can outweigh the weakness on condition that students are properly guided and monitored, especially for teenagers. Teachers can use those kinds of game which in-game English chat and text are included and the cooperative interaction between players is highlighted. So that L2 players can receive more inputs and exercise English in an authentic context with real purpose to get things done. Besides, the off-game online gaming communities should also be exploited by teachers for students’ benefits. Some of the game tips or strategies shared on game forums are written in English, providing extra autonomous learning opportunites for students.
    As for the prospect of the adoption of digital game-based L2 learning, I am quite doubtful for that since we still have a long way to go in legitimizing the practice of gameplay in formal education. But if the education practitioners can realize the learning affordance created by digital game and know how to implement it, I believe their students will benefit a lot.

    • Thank you for your comment, Chang and I’m glad that you enjoy it. I think you are quite positive towards the affordance of digital games in the pedagogical use and I agree with you that monitoring and guidance is required. I think you’ve also mentioned a very interesting point that teachers should also leverage the gaming communities for students’ sake, because the written para-text provides materials for L2 learning. But I think teachers should instruct students to pay more attention on the contents which are relevant to their language learning instead of the pursuit of joy and pleasure, since you don’t want your students to be distracted by the games anyway. So there is definitely a long way to go before officially adopt digital gaming in the classroom instruction.

  18. Yes, I have many experiences learning L2 knowledge through gaming, especially in games which simulate a certain aspect of our daily life. For example, I learnt a lot of vocabularies relating to food& ingredients when I was playing a cooking game. But I still get problems communicating with other players in P2P games, mostly because of their strong accent.
    I think gaining language through gaming is still a process of entertaining, but with unconsciously picking up some language knowledge. So I may just recommend my students some games that are suitable for them, and advice them to play out of class. If in class, I would like to embed gaming into the lead-in part, which can activate their motivation to the class content.

    • Thanks for the sharing, Biyao. Yes, we can unconsciously pick up some specialist vocabulary when we play a digital game and it’s more like “an extra bonus”. If gamers don’t intentionally play a foreign game for L2 learning, the focus will still be the pleasure of wining and entertaining. Maybe there is still a long way to go before we make digital gaming part of our class content but I think we can be positive about the prospect.

  19. To be honest, I have never played any L2 digital games because I’m not that into playing video games.
    As far as I am concerned, the disadvantages of this approach outweigh the advantages. For one thing, there hardly exist some L2 digital games in mainland China. What we do have are games for pleasure and entertainment. Maybe after ten or twenty years there will be some and then I will try to employ the method. For another, students especially from junior high schools are easily addicted to the games which will definitely distract their attention and get in the way of their study.
    As for the prospect, I do believe integrating new literacies in second language learning will be a trend in the future.

    • Hi Catherine, thank you for the comment. Yes, there are few L2 digital games that can be used for educational purposes, and most gamers play digital games just for fun. However there are researches has shown that some gamers can pick up specialist vocabulary when they play digital games of different categories, such as sports or legal categories. Although these are the games for entertaining, gamers could still acquire words or expressions unconsciously. Hopefully, there will be digital games for instructional purpose emerging in the near future.

  20. Hi Catherine, thank you for the comment. Yes, there are few L2 digital games that can be used for educational purposes, and most gamers play digital games just for fun. However there are researches has shown that some gamers can pick up specialist vocabulary when they play digital games of different categories, such as sports or legal categories. Although these are the games for entertaining, gamers could still acquire words or expressions unconsciously. Hopefully, there will be digital games for instructional purpose emerging in the near future.

  21. Actually I seldom play L2 digital games, but I do watch some videos about communicating with people from other countries. Those videos are quite interesting and I can figure out that they are trying to use English as the medium to communicate with each other. In addition, some of the digital games only have the English version, so that users have to do their utmost to understand the instructions or the announcements. With the motivation to accomplish the missions, gamers usually not only need frequent team discussion, but also understand the instructions clearly, which unconsciously increase their literacy and ability to interact with others in English.

    I believe the advantages of this approach outweigh disadvantages. Digital games can be a supplement for L2 learners to learn English with much fun. L2 digital games also provide them with exposure to English environment and they can actually use English in practice. L2 learners can realize that learning English is not just restricted in English classroom but also in the digital world. Their interest for learning English can increase when they enjoy playing L2 digital games. Although some people might worry teenagers might be addicted to the digital games and misled by some violent elements from the game, I still believe that with the adequate guidance from parents, teachers and society, most gamers will just regard L2 digital games as a method of relaxation rather than addict to it.

    With the development of technology and pedagogy, I think it is possible and realizable to apply digital games in L2 learning. In language learning classroom, teachers can embed L2 digital games in the lesson, which can increase students’ interest in learning English. With high motivation, students might be more concentrate on learning English and be willing to use English to communicate with others.

    • Morning, Eva! Glad to see your comment here. Playing digital games can indeed generate team discussions which may be great help for individual gamers to understand some difficult instructions and build a sense of teamship. Thus, a so-called community is built, a place where appropriate, instant guidances and suggestions are provided.

      Also, I hold a rather positive view towards digital games. I believe with moderate guidance, whether from educators or parents, gaming will be an effective tool for language learning. Those who have been addicted to it are someone who lack self-discipline and suitable instructions. Therefore, teachers can help students establish a proper value towards this novel pedagogical tools, viewing it as an interesting and efficient way of language learning instead of an addictive game.

    • Apparently, some strategy and role-play games have already incorporated interactive elements into games, which requires players to communicate with each other to accomplish missions. Steam as a global-based gaming platform where players may match players from other countries, and this provides them with opportunities of using English.
      Yes, with advent of technology, English learning is far from restricted at physical places, like classroom. From my perspective, New Literacies encourages us to think in a more creative manner and changes our identities to some extent. In the traditional physical classroom, the prevalence of teacher-fronted approach could hinder some shy students from practicing spoken English in class. Nonetheless, in gaming community, shyness can be overcome because all players belong to the same gaming community.
      Learning L2 through gameplay is promising, but the problem is the school system. Additionally, the implementation of such approaches depends on teachers’ digital mindset. Senior teachers who are not familiar with technology devices would be reluctant to try it out, which is an elephant in the room.

  22. Well, I believe gaming to learn is feasible under certain guidance or instruction. When we talking about L2 learning, I suppose the supposed students are most likely the junior ones, those who lack self-discipline relatively. Therefore, parents or teachers should keep an eye on them to prevent unnecessary distraction or deviation. Yet, that pose another problem. We, adults, should have be familiar to the games in the first place and should be have plenty of time to accompany children when they use the computers or mobile phones to play. On one hand, it seems very difficult for nowadays working parents. And teachers cannot monitor children after class all the time. On the other hand, children would feel restrained under intense interventions. I believe this is the dilemma we need to figure out how to overcome.

    • Thank you Phoebe, your comment is quite enlightening. It’s true that for parents nowadays, they don’t have enough time and ample energy to monitor their children for gaming after a long day from work. Also, those little gamers will lose the essence of playing digital games. That is to say, if their parents over-manipulate on their gaming practice, they would gradually lose interest in it and be less concentrated. So how to prevent them from getting too hooked on playing games without sacrificing their motivations on it? Maybe settling a time limit would be a good way as there is on need for the parents to monitor their children in person, but insuring that they won’t engage in it overtime. How do you feel that? I’m sure there are other valid solutions for this dilemma as well!

  23. I’m sorry to say that online gaming and VEs are totally a blank area on me.

    Yeah, I do think the advantages are more powerful. Living in the 21st century, I can easily see the trend of online gaming on youngsters. When we hopefully acknowledge the ongoing tendency of it, we should try our best to keep pace with the trend and in the meanwhile attempt to offset the existing drawbacks. Some of my friends spend all day long on gaming when they have free time, because they see it as a means of leisure. In this case, language learning is in a relaxed environment, which will facilitate students’ intrinsic motivation and language intake simultaneously. As far as I am concerned, motivation is the stepping stone of anything. It will lead students to further language learning in the formal setting. Additionally, students are willing to spend much time in gaming, which is more powerful than only time-limited classroom teaching for language practices. They get easier access to the authentic language learning and practices, which compensates for the disadvantage of textbook predicted dialogue and out-dated utterances. In terms of the indulgence, it is a nice attempt to develop students’ self-control from a very young-age. Teachers can design some classes aiming at developing students’ autonomy and give them assignments to monitor themselves on the time of study and gaming. I think online gamings are still the newly-introduced concepts for language learning. So more materials and contents will be explored and designed by teachers and researchers.

    As a future teacher, I would try to recommend my students to learn language through online gaming in the digital wild. In terms of my target students, who are primary school students, it is very crucial to select the video games that are suitable for their language level and mental development. If possible, some game designed for young age language learners would be the better choice. And teachers can collaborate with different schools to help students create a more mature language learning environment. In the meanwhile, monitoring their language development is another essential part for language teachers. The reason I’m not recommending it into the instructional class is that students set their own learning styles and they have diverse interests. I don’t want some students’ needs are neglected and force all of them to the game. Maybe, the after-class gaming club would be a good idea to gather them together to exchange ideas and strategies with gaming itself and language learning in gaming.

  24. Hi Krystal, Thank you for your comments. You’ve provided a detailed and theoretical explanation on the advantages of digital gaming in L2 learning. I cannot agree more when you mentioned that their intrinsic motivation will be triggered during gaming, hence they can absorb language knowledge in the meantime. But as far as I am concerned, students at a very young age do not have enough self-control, so probably they may choose to invest more time in gaming instead of studying, that’s why a lot of parents nowadays keep their little kids away from digital games .

    And I love your idea of organizing an after-class gaming club and inviting students to share ideas and strategies on gaming and language learning in the games. However, I think teacher should also show up and give moderate instructions, because we don’t want students to deviate from the language learning purpose and pay more attention on how to win the games.

  25. I don’t have much experience in playing L2 digital games, but I believe L2 learning in gaming communities are getting more attention from language learners.

    In terms of the pros and cons of this approach, I think the contexts of using it need to be considered. If learners try to increase their L2 knowledge through digital games in leisure time, I would say digital gaming is a facilitator in increasing their sense of accomplishment, confidence and motivation in language learning.

    However, if we use it in a classroom context, it would be a challenge for both teachers and learners. For teachers, it can be difficult to integrate games into the current curriculum due to the lack of classroom time. In addition, it takes time for teacher to find games relating to the topic and then learn how to play them. For students, especially those who lack self-discipline, digital games don’t necessarily enhance their language skills since students are unware of language mistakes when they are distracted by games, which is actually a obstacle to L2 learning.

    There could be a prospective future in applying digital games in L2 learning, but educational systems need more time to adjust the curriculum with this new approach while researchers need more evidence to prove the effectiveness of this integration in different contexts.

    • Hi Stefanie and thank you for the comment. Yes, Indeed. It’s a good thing to see the gamers facilitate their L2 learning with digital games in leisure time, and since they are put into a more authentic communicative environment, their communicative competence can be developed and their confidence of speaking L2 can be enhanced.But when it comes to the classroom context, this novel tool definitely needs more evaluation on the feasibility and applicability before officially introduced into the class. Besides, most of us agree with the positive prospect of it, so let’s wait and see how it goes.

  26. I have once played a L2 digital game which aims to learn vocabulary used in daily life. The game is like a building project but the building materials are the proper words. If you choose the right word and spell it right, you can finish constructing a part of the house. And if you succeed in build the level 1 house, you will unlock the level 2 house and then continue to guess and learn the target words. Although it is a really interesting way of memorizing the words, I think the disadvantages of this approach outweigh its advantages. Because it is quite difficult to find the appropriate digital games to achieve the teaching objectives for each topics. Besides, some students especially children and teenagers who lack the capability of self-control may be distracted by other online games or website pages irrelevant to studies. Thus, the digital games in L2 learning may be applied as the supplement to the after-class learning activities, as they could enhance students’ interest in learning the target language.

    • Hi Christine, thanks for your comment. I think the game you mentioned is an example of instructional games which can used for language learning and I think when gamers unlock the higher level house, they can get a sense of fulfillment. I am glad that you’ve find such an interesting game to help you memorize new words.
      Indeed, it’s a huge concern that students at a young age may easily get addicted in gaming, or get distracted if digital games are used in the class instruction. So certain monitoring and supervision from teachers and parents is definitely in need, to make sure that digital gaming facilitates the language learning in a proper way.

    • Hi Christine! Thanks for your sharing! It is interesting to know your vocabulary learning experience through L2 digital games! I think this way may stimulate some people’s interest in memorizing vocabulary especially for those who have struggles. I think some vocabulary apps have such tendency to design their contents more like puzzle games (e.g. baicizhan). With game-like background music, images and layer levels, people may feel less monotonous to remember vocabularies. I think one disadvantage of these apps is that sometimes you have to pay for more databases for functions if you want to continue learning. I agree with you that children are less self-controlled in online-surfing. The temptation to play online games are far greater than learning L2. I wonder if there is a way that teachers can assign the homework based on online games in kindergartens or primary schools.

  27. Actually, I have played neither L1 digital games nor L2 ones.
    As for the pros and cons, I assume it depends on one’s purpose. If you want to improve your communicating competence in L2, it definitely provides a relaxing atmosphere for language learners to open mouths with less stress and concerns. However, if the goal is to establish a systematic framework of L2, digital games can only be a facilitator rather than the major approach.
    I believe there is a cheerful prospect of its application in L2 learning as its creativity and variety will cater to learners of different levels and with different needs. But it still needs sometime for more people especially parents to accept this kind of mode.

    • Hi, Brenda. Yeah, I feel the same with you on its great capacity for gamers to communicate and interact with each other, which may create a much more cozy atmosphere. Students who are behaving as a more introvert speakers would be more open to express themselves and accept other’s opinions while using this unconventional new literary at class. And yes, as it doesn’t provide systematic framework, it does have some shortcomings if applied as the major approach.

  28. I remember several years ago, I was fond of playing some simple single player games, and there were only English versions of those games, which might be some kind of L2 digital games. Among them were various casual games, like running a restaurant, tending a garden, going on an adventure and so on. In order to play those games smoothly, I gradually acquired some simple words and expressions. When playing games, it was normal that I would not consult a dictionary specially, so I might have a command of some knowledge according to the game situation and context. It could be a natural and easy way to learn certain language. However, I admit that at that time I played games for entertainment instead of language learning. So its efficiency remains to be discussed.

    I am optimistic about the development of digital games as a tool in L2 learning. As in this era, the impact of the Internet on people’s learning is not to be underestimated, and it may infiltrate our daily life subtly. I think there could be more virtual world-related content connected with learning. And digital games are more likely to arouse students’ learning motivation and bring them more opportunities for communication. There may be more games well designed for learning in the future.

    • Thank you Julie for sharing your idea! I think that your experience illustrates how we can have fun and learn in digital games. What interests me from your point is that in the game sometimes you can leave behind the dictionary for unfamiliar words. Instead, you can guess the meaning of the words according to the game context. However, it may not frequently occurs when we encounter some difficult words in L2 readings or listenings. At the very beginning of L2 stage, we cannot resist the temptation to consult the dictionaries. Interesting!
      I agree with you that more games will be designed to facilitate L2 learning. As you mentioned in your reply, sometimes it is hard for L2 teachers and schools to provide all kinds of real L2 situations in classes. Even some situations are provided, it is still limited for students to feel the whole settings. Therefore, virtual games may offer a solution to the problem.

  29. I am sorry that I never play L2 digital games before but after reading this post, maybe I could have a try in the future since I do think we can benefit from it.

    However, when it comes to the application of digital games in L2 learning, I do not think it would be a good idea. It is undeniable that learning through playing games can motivate students but at the same time, it may take them lots of time in playing games and while they spend plenty of time, what they could learn seems to be limited. I mean, the expression we use in games are quite fixed and the context is settled. What is more, it is difficult for teachers to find out games that is interesting while it also be educational and teachers may need to find out ways to prevent students from addicted to games. Regarding games as a lead-in activity only may be better.

    • Thank you so much for reply! Nevermind it is ok!
      I agree with you that the balance between language learning and game playing is of great difficulty to deal with. It requires both supervision from schools and parents, also includes students’ self-disciplined ability. I think the learning materials from digital games may be different. For example, if a student plays Crossfire, he/she hears some vocabularies of martial aspect. He/she can be more interested in L2 classes concerning martial topics because he/she is familiar with some words. What if students pay more attention to lead-in activity of digital games? Would he/she be absent-minded for the rest of class?

    • I am sorry that I don’t know how to reply you directly Michelle. Yes I think it is totally possible for students to get distracted by the lead-in acitivitiy about gaming. But at the same time, it may be helpful for teachers to arouse students’ interest in the class. And if a brief introduction about games would distract them, let alone encouraging them to learn through playing games hhh.

  30. I have played games in English(L2) when I was in primary school—Grand Theft Auto(GTA). It was a role playing game, describing a man wandering in a model city of USA. Interestingly, we can type in some words to realize some functions such as typing “leavemealone” to avoid the police, typing “aspirine” to be ressurected with full HP and so on. In this way, I can remember the English words unconsciously and this is the first time I learn a second language through digital games.

    • Thank you Key, for your interesting sharing! It’s pretty awesome to learn a foreign language on your own through digital games in a relatively young age. I bet the majority of us don’t have that kind of motivation and opportunity back in our childhood. Yes, learning through gaming usually is unintentional and thus an unexpected outcome might occur. Your interest in English must sprout at that time!

  31. Yes, I’ve played digital games which are in the English setting. The two games are actually in a series, one set in a garden and the other in a house. I’ve gained L2 knowledge while playing them mostly in terms of vocabulary. I have to read in English in order to understand what my tasks are. During the comprehension, I learnt vocabulary related to the household, such as some objects/tools in the garden.
    It’s hard to compare the advantages and the disadvantages because of individual differences. For students of high motivation of learning L2 and self-control, I would say, the advantages outweight the disadvantages. I met a junior middle school student who was passionate about English learning but seemed not diligent in class. He told me that he played digital games where he had the chance to communicate with players from all parts of the world speaking English, and I found that he knew more vocabulary then his classmates. From this case, I deem that playing digital games is beneficial.
    It’s likely that more digital games will be applied in L2 learning, mostly as a supplement to the current curriculum. Appropriate games can be recommended to students after class. One concern is monitoring. If the teachers are worried about the effect, they can assign particular tasks to the students, such as writing a review.

    • Hi Olivia! Thanks for the sharing! I think most of us more or less have gained some vocabularies in L2 digital games. It is interesting you’ve mentioned about
      the settings e.g. (the garden and the house). I think it is a good way for players to gradually grasp related vocabularies in the setting. That is to say, maybe players would leave a comparatively deep impression on those words because they have received more information about the words e.g.(Sound/Spelling/Image/Animation). Once they encounter the word in textbooks again, they are able to memorize it easily by searching the game experience in mind.
      I agree with you that it is difficult to compare pros and cons, because everybody has different attitude towards it.
      Yes! Adding tasks could be one way to avoid students over-playing digital games!

    • Hi, Olivia! Thanks for sharing. I had a quite similar experience with you on playing L2 games. The games what you have mentioned may be more close to real life so it may offer gamers an opportunity to fully immerse themselves and explore authentic scenes in L2 learning environment. Compared to those competitive games, you would feel less pressured and more relaxing to learn some basic vocabularies and simple daily conversations while playing this kind of games.

  32. Well, first of all, thanks for the funny video of the interaction between Japanese and American gamers that you shared. It was hilarious and super funny !!!LOL

    Yes, I played L2 digital games. But very limited amount. I don’t think it’s very helpful for my L2 learning, since I tend to focus more on the plot. And I will straightly go to the Internet and search the game walkthroughs to help me understand the plot. Therefore,I don’t have to deal with all those confusing L2 vocabulary.

    It is hard to say if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in Learning language via playing computer games. It depends on the character as well as the motivation of the player.Since we’re living in a fast developing digital world, I am looking forward that how this kind of language learning approach will be like in the future.

    • Thanks for your comment, Queenie. Learning L2 through gameplay is still not the mainstream of language learning. Because there are so many walkthroughs available out there, players are most likely to play for pleasure rather than for learning.
      Yes, individual differential is quite huge. How much players can benefit form games predominantly varies. The development of digital technologies is already irreversible, and playing to the strength of digital technologies is wise move.

  33. It is heartwarming to hear my favourite game Mario was welcoming me when I started to read this blog post. Of course, we love L2 games, as you know Hong Kong gaming industry is uncomparable to great games studios like Nintendo or Playstation. Surely gaming can be a frustrating experience when you do not know what the tasks are requiring you to do. But that’s what makes it interesting. By learning how to play, you are also learning how the language is used. While playing video games are being frowned upon my parents as they see their children not productive in their learning. I believe playing L2 games actually facilitate them in becoming better readers. As the tasks by these games focus on readers’ responsibility, players really need to understand to correctly implement their plans.
    Therefore, I see a good future in embedding L2 games into the L2 classroom. Perhaps we can run a pilot test in primary school and see how it goes. I believe the research would be fascinating.

    • Thanks for your comment, Warren. It is nice to hear that you hold positive and enthusiastic attitude towards L2 learning through gameplay.
      The parent generation usually treats gameplay as a hinderance to learning, but the ever-changing world requires us to be open-minded and critical. Strategy games are full of tasks and plot-intensive, in which players have to understand dialogues between in-game characters. Without knowing those rarely used words, players would not accomplish mission of each plot. Motivation for clearing all mission and exploring following plot can be very appealing to players, and it in turn stimulates to look up words.
      The research on how to incorporate gameplay into curriculum will be interesting and game-enabled class can highly engage students in.

  34. I’ve never played L2 digital games, because I’m not a big fan of video games haha. Personally speaking, I think the disadvantages of this approach outweigh its advantages. Especially for children and adolescents, it’s very easy for them to be addicted to playing digital games, and thus spend less time on learning and socialising with others, they are more likely to have abad eyesights in the long run as well. Also for adults, being too obsessive with digital games can cause health problems like obesity and discomfort in neck and back too. The advantages are hard to ignore too, such as removing pressure from work and study, as well as training eye-hand collaboration ability and quickening one’s thinking. I do believe that more and more digital games can be applied in L2 learning in the future as a suppplementary teaching activities. Maybe the games will suit the education environment better if schools or teachers can come up with more education-oriented games themselvesor or adapt from other games.

    • Thank you Tina for sharing! Health problem is always a big issue when it comes to digital games. I believe that in the future, more health-friendly technologies will be created. I agree with you that the games will suit the education environment and both schools and teachers should have a better control in students digital game playing.

  35. To be honest, I have never played L2 digital games. After reading your post, I think the advantages of this approach outweigh disadvantages because games can stimulate students to learn language in a new way. In some video games, students can develop their reading skills and problem-solving skills, they can interact with other players using their L2 for cooperation as well. So I believe digital games can raise students’ interest on learning L2 under the guidance of teachers.

    • Thank you Ariel for sharing! I think you provide some positive and reasonable points of digital games. I think not only for students, teachers would also feel interesting when they apply digital games into teaching.

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