*Sixty-four percent of foreign born ELL adults in the US are at Level 1 of the International Adult Literacy Survey (Tuijnman, 2000). This means the adult wouldn’t be able to read the label on a medicine bottle (OECD, 2000).
*Constraints include cost, time, transportation, availability of native English speaking teachers, and location.
Cognitive academic language proficiency can take five to seven years (Cummins, 2008).
The purpose was to provide extramural learning opportunities no matter the constraints, so that ELLs could develop their competence in speaking and writing in various situations.
*ESL= English as a second language
I replicated a previous study where they used the video game, EverQuestII, without instructional support to improve ELLs vocabulary. This peaked my interest for practical purposes. I extended it to include more ESL skills, attitude toward gaming for SLA, & prior gaming experience.
*SLA = second language acquisition, which refers to informal learning of language that is acquired instead of formally taught
I used a mixed-methods-collective-case-study with a nonequivalent comparison group design.
*Participants were enrolled in the *ELC= English Language Center for 25-hours of instruction on ESL skills.
*The treatment group met with me afterschool twice a week for a month to play the game with SLA strategies. The control group did not.
*Strategic gaming activities and features included voice and text chat, forming alliances, and developing their character.
*These were social language strategies appropriate for this age group and gender.
There were 5 variables in my study. The primary independent variable being the learning condition. There was 1 exploratory variables that I thought might influence the outcomes: prior gaming experience. The dependent variables included ESL skills, new vocabulary, and attitude toward gaming for language learning.
There were 3 assessments. The CaMLA was administered by the ELC. The director shared those scores with me. I devised the Gameplay Vocabulary test from parsing the participants’ chat logs with the vocabulary concordancer, Range software program. From the top 120 words, I categorized them into neutral, positive, and negative words and selected an even number from each for a total of 50 for the pretest-posttest. Due to programmatic barriers, disinterest, and scheduling conflicts, I was unable to give this test to the control group. I also made the questionnaire with the input from my committee. Due to programmatic barriers, I was unable to give the questionnaire as a posttest.
Do ELLs increase their ESL skills after playing EverQuestII with SLA strategies for 4-hours a week for a month? I hypothesized that the treatment group would outperform the control group on the CaMLA. *The rationale being the text-heavy MMORPG combined with SLA strategies would provide an effective afterschool intervention with the ELLs interacting with language via quests and role-play. * This is based on the constructivist learning paradigm, Lave and Wenger’s (1991) situated learning theory, active learning, & Hymes (1972) communicative approach to language teaching.
*For research question 2, I wanted to know whether the participants’ prior gaming experience would impact their attitude toward gaming as a SLA tool. *I hypothesized that there would be positive correlation between prior gaming experience and attitude toward gaming as a language learning tool. *My rationale being those who had already benefitted linguistically or knew someone who had would have a positive attitude toward its use, which could impact the buy-in for the treatment. *This is based on my previous case study (Rogers & Johnson, 2016) and Fishbein and Ajzen’s (1975) theory of reasoned action, a positive attitude toward an uncommon behavior leads to its voluntary use.
*For research question 3, I wanted to see if there was a correlation between prior gaming experience and ESL skill performance. *I hypothesized that there would be a positive correlation between the two. *The rationale being that highly experienced gamers would be able to focus more on reading the quests and maps and benefit from the text-heavy MMORPG than less experienced gamers who may encounter extraneous cognitive load from learning game mechanics. *This is based on Sweller’s (Sweller, Van Merrienboer, & Paas, 1998) cognitive load theory and Krashen’s (1982) hypotheses on affective filter and comprehensible input.
**The results from RQ1 contradicted my hypothesis. *The control group outperformed the treatment group by 1.7 mean gain score units. Based on gameplay observations, many participants did not like using the prescribed SLA strategies. Case studies revealed specific reasons for strategy disuse such as the headset hurt their ears, text chatting would distract from game, lack of information on guilds. *There was also a case study anomaly in which a student faired much better on the N-D reading test than on the CaMLA during this time. The N-D assesses reading and vocabulary. I used it in the summer with one of the participants. He showed 4 to 5 grade levels of improvement on the N-D, but a negative gain on the CaMLA of 5 points. Suggests the need for multiple measures specifically at the skill level. *The small size study, likely measurement error, and nonrandom assignment limit the validity of this finding.
*For RQ2, the correlation was not statistically significant. *This contradicted my hypothesis. *75% of participants had a positive attitude toward gaming for SLA regardless of their prior gaming experience. *The small size study limits the validity of this finding.
Related to participants’ attitude toward gaming for SLA, these themes emerged from the questionnaire, interviews, observations, focus groups, and member checking.
The majority of participants believed that they could learning ESL listening, speaking and reading from the game but not grammar nor writing.
The majority of participants did not think the treatment should be offered afterschool due to conflicting activities, errands, and preference of playing video games at night with friends.
I already addressed the concerns with the strategies
*Results for RQ3 also contradicted my hypothesis. *The correlation was not statistically significant. *Prior gaming was not related to the ESL skill performance on the CaMLA. *Participants’ prior gaming experience consisted mainly of battle games and sports, which are text-light video games. Perhaps if they played text-heavy games, there might have been a correlation. *The small size study and likely measurement error limit the validity of this finding.
MMORPG with Strategic Language Learning Activities for ESL Skills
A MASSIVELY, MULTIPLAYER, ONLINE, ROLE-
PLAYING GAME (MMORPG) WITH LANGUAGE
LEARNING STRATEGIC ACTIVITIES TO IMPROVE
ENGLISH GRAMMAR, LISTENING, READING &
SANDRA A. ROGERS
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA
•Burke Johnson, Ph.D., Chairperson, University of
South Alabama (USA)
•Jim Van Haneghan, Ph.D., USA
•Susan Martin, Ph.D., USA
•Rick Van Eck, Ph.D., University of North Dakota
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
• Adult English language learners (ELLs) need to
improve their English in the US but face various
constraints to obtaining language instruction.
• The 1-year, formal, collegiate, English language
programs are often inadequate.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
My goal was to provide extramural learning opportunities
for ELLs to bypass the various constraints and/or
supplement formal ESL instruction to develop their
communicative competence in an effective, efficient, and
EXTENSION OF PREVIOUS STUDY
• Rankin, Gold, & Gooch (2006) found ELLs improved
their English vocabulary by 40% from playing
EverQuest® II for 4-hours a week for a month without
• I extended their study by examining these additional
variables in addition to vocabulary: ESL skills
(grammar, listening, & reading), attitude toward
gaming for SLA, and prior game experience.
OVERVIEW OF STUDY
This was a mixed-methods-collective-case-study with a
nonequivalent comparison group design.
•15 participants attended 25-hours of ESL instruction
•Treatment group played EverQuest® II (2016) with SLA
optimizing strategies after school; control group did not.
•Strategies included voice & text chat, forming alliances,
& creating a virtual identity.
Independent Variable Exploratory IVs Dependent Variables (DVs)
(treatment vs. control)
Experience (0 to 2
years = low, 3 to 5 =
medium & 6+ =
ESL Skills DV1 (grammar, listening,
reading & vocabulary)
New Vocabulary Acquisition DV2
(based on frequently occurring
words in game chat logs)
Attitude Toward Gaming for SLA
DV3 (1 = strongly disagree and 5 =
Assessments Construct Measured Time Frame
ESL Skills DV1 Instrument:
Grammar, Listening, Reading
& Vocabulary (combination
New Vocabulary Acquisition
DV2 Instrument: Gameplay
New Vocabulary acquired
from gameplay based on
frequently occurring words
from chat logs
Primary Questionnaire Attitude toward Gaming for
RESEARCH QUESTION 1
Do college ELLs increase their English skills more after playing a MMORPG
with SLA optimizing gameplay for 4-hours a week for a month than control
group participants in the same ESL class who receive lecture-only?
• Hypothesis: The treatment group will have higher mean gain scores on
the CaMLA than the control group.
• Rationale: Text-heavy MMORPG+SLA strategies provide an effective
afterschool intervention with its narrative structure embedded in quests
for situated learning of English.
• Theory: This is based on the constructivist learning paradigm, Lave and
Wenger’s (1991) situated learning theory, active learning, & Hymes
(1972) communicative approach to language teaching.
RESEARCH QUESTION 2
Is prior gaming experience related to participants’ attitude toward gaming as
a SLA tool?
• Hypothesis: There will be a positive correlation between self-reporting of
gaming experience and attitude toward gaming for SLA from the
• Rationale: Participants who have already benefitted linguistically from
playing a video game or know someone who has will have a positive
attitude toward gaming for SLA.
• Theory: This is based on my previous case study (Rogers & Johnson, 2016)
and Fishbein and Ajzen’s (1975) theory of reasoned action, a positive
attitude toward an uncommon behavior leads to its voluntary use.
RESEARCH QUESTION 3
Is prior gaming experience related to English skill performance?
• Hypothesis: There will be a positive correlation between gaming
experience and ESL skill performance.
• Rationale: Highly experienced gamers will be able to focus more on
reading and completing the quest at hand than those with less experience,
who may become confused or focused on game mechanics instead of
• Theory: This is based on Sweller’s (Sweller, Van Merriënboer, & Paas,
1998) cognitive load theory and Krashen’s (1982) hypotheses on affective
filter and comprehensible input.
RQ1: Do ELLs increase their ESL skills more after playing a MMORPG with
SLA optimizing gameplay for 4-hours a week for a month than control
group participants in the same ESL class who receive lecture-only?
• Analysis: I calculated the ESL Skills DV1 from the posttest minus pretest
mean gain scores for each learning condition on the CaMLA.
• Findings: The control group outperformed (M =3.38, SD = 4.0, n = 9) the
treatment group (M =1.67, SD = 6.9, n = 6) by 1.7 mean gain score units.
The treatment group didn’t use all prescribed strategies; however, they
learned 15 new words. The small size study, nonrandom assignment,
likely measurement error, and lack of strategy use limit the validity of
RQ2: Is prior gaming experience related to participants’ attitude
toward gaming for SLA?
Analysis: I correlated their attitude toward gaming for SLA with level
of prior gaming experience.
Results: The correlation was not statistically significant ( r = .279, p =
.38, n = 12). Participants had the following amount of prior gaming
experience: high (8%), medium (50%), low (17%), and none (25%).
Seventy-five percent had a positive attitude toward gaming for SLA
while 25% were neutral. The small size study limits the validity of this
EMERGENT THEMES ON GAMING FOR SLA
Learn ESL listening, speaking, & reading skills
No Time for
Homework or program
Prefer to play at home at night with
Some dislike of headset
Text chatting would distract from
Lack of information on guilds
RQ3: Is prior gaming experience related to ESL skill performance?
Analysis: I correlated the CaMLA mean gain scores with the level of
prior gaming experience.
Results: The correlation was not statistically significant (r = .238,
p = .48, n = 12). Participants’ prior gaming experience mainly consisted
of battle games (e.g., COD) or sports (e.g., FIFA), which are text-light
video games. The small size study and likely measurement error limit
the validity of this finding.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH:
1. EXAMINE UNANSWERED OR WEAK ASPECTS OF MY STUDY WITH
A LARGER SAMPLE SIZE & RANDOM ASSIGNMENT,
2. EXAMINE EFFICACY OF SLA STRATEGY USE FOR GAMEPLAY,
3. EXAMINE IF MMORPG ADDRESSES THE SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL
NEEDS OF ELLS, &
4. INVESTIGATE DIGITAL GAME RESEARCH OUTSIDE THE CONTEXT
OF A LAB.
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