University of Oulu

How gamers experience informal digital learning of English within video games and online affinity spaces

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Author: Ico, Mel1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Pages: 64
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : M. Ico, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-08-20
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Dindar, Muhterem
Gortari, Angelica Ortiz Beatriz de
Reviewer: Sobocinski, Márta
Dindar, Muhterem


This study aims to investigate how English language learning occurs within the experiences of playing online video games and interacting in related online affinity spaces. Although there have been past studies that have researched language learning in video games, both in formal and informal contexts, none have specifically explored how players experience language learning in both online video games and online affinity spaces.

This study used the concepts of informal learning, implicit learning, informal language learning, informal digital learning of English, affinity spaces, communities of inquiry and communities of practice as a guide for the research process. It also used qualitative content analysis as a method of data analysis. The participants of this study consisted of 6 Finnish males who currently attend upper secondary school in Finland. The data was gathered via semi-structured interviews.

The findings reveal that most participants experienced English language learning through playing video games incidentally and unconsciously. Essentially, most participants were unaware of language learning occurring while playing video games, and they did not intend to learn English while playing. Moreover, they learned mostly through interacting with the video game space itself while some also learned through playing with others. In regard to online affinity spaces, most participants learned English incidentally. Most participants experienced English language learning through interacting with the content within the online affinity spaces. More, specifically, when inquiring about new knowledge related to gaming, players were able to learn English at the same time. These finding reveal the potential for online video games and online affinity spaces to help gamers learn English.

The implications of this study include the potential for educators to utilize online video games and online affinity spaces in formal learning. This study is important to the field of digital language learning research as it presents a glimpse into the specific processes that occur within informal digital language learning.

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