University of Oulu

Beauty is in the eye of the gamer : to what extent do commercial games reinforce English as a second language acquisition?

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Author: Bolaños Alfonso, Daniel1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
Pages: 42
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : D. Bolaños Alfonso, 2016
Publish Date: 2016-06-06
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Vuopala, Essi
Reviewer: Laru, Jari
Vuopala, Essi
Research has shown the potential of employing video game platforms for second language acquisition. Nevertheless, few studies have addressed the impact of non-educational commercial video games on second language learning as reported by the players themselves. Likewise, little research has studied in detail which are the aspects that players consider to be the most engaging when playing a commercial video game, related to language acquisition. This study aims at examining the player-reported impact of commercial video games on English language acquisition, in light of subjective gaming variables such as perceived enjoyment and complexity. 331 participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire along 12 days, enquiring about their gaming practices and the impact they perceive video games to have on English as a second language (ESL) acquisition. Correlations between variables were found employing Spearman’s rho. Results show on one hand that players see a significant correlations of video game practice on ESL skills, based on subjective perceptions of gaming. On the other hand, correlations were found between three game genre categories and language acquisition, in order to explore whether different characteristics inherent to each game category have a differential influence in learning, according to player reports. Results show that various video game categories have differential correlations, according to genre-dependent and playability variables (such as pacing, playability, interaction, and language quality and breadth). Participants also suggest reasons why different gaming categories can have a greater impact on second language learning, and mention qualitative differences in language use influenced by diverse gaming practices. Additionally, participants list video game genres different from those employed in the present analysis, and mention their perceived influence on second language acquisition. Findings from this study suggest that first, commercial games may indeed contribute to second language acquisition, in terms of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and vocabulary acquisition. Second, findings also suggest that second language acquisition varies depending on the game content, playability, pace, and interaction type. Finally, findings suggest that the highest potential for language learning is perceived within online massively played role-playing games, where the game presents a relatively complex content and the players are forced to read and listen to the input from the game in order to progress. Not only this, the highest learning potential can also be attributed to the necessity of interacting with other human players in a context where English becomes the lingua franca. Insights gained from this study can help integrate video game platforms into traditional classroom-based contexts, in order to exploit the affordances of using new technologies in learning (particularly, exploring and designing learning scenarios within non-educational video games, exploiting their large appeal and the broad offer of resources contemporarily).
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Copyright information: © Daniel Bolaños Alfonso, 2016. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.