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On recommending online games for language learning


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On recommending online games for language learning

  1. 1. Evaluating Online Games for Language Learning Jean-Paul DuQuette Osaka JALT Tech Day Plus Hannan University, June 19, 2011
  2. 2. Why online games to practice English?
  3. 3. Well… <ul><li>Student: “I want to practice my English outside of class…” </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher: “I want to give my students a more experiential research project.” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Quests = Authentic task-based learning (Long, 1985; Ballou, 2009)
  5. 5. Active, critical learning (Gee, 2007) Interactive English in text and voice
  6. 6. Supporting independent learner reflection, interaction and experimentation (Schweinhorst, 2008)
  7. 7. Anonymity/avatar use may increase confidence; “The Proteus Effect” (Yee & Bailenson, 2007)
  8. 8. Opportunities for collaboration and friendship (McGonigal, 2010)
  9. 9. On demand & often cost-free
  10. 10. Why not just use Second Life? <ul><li>Goals generated by the environment provide a sense of purpose (McGonigal, 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>Addictiveness (read increased motivation) </li></ul><ul><li>Clear feedback on your progress </li></ul>
  11. 11. “ Okay, I want to recommend a game…” A reality checklist…
  12. 12. Hardware requirements <ul><li>Usually shown on the download page. </li></ul><ul><li>Necessary memory, processing speed and recommended graphics cards. </li></ul><ul><li>Requirements for online immersive environments may be high. </li></ul>
  13. 13. “ Grab” <ul><li>Ease of installation </li></ul><ul><li>Visual appeal </li></ul><ul><li>Interface intuitiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of the back story </li></ul><ul><li>Character customizability </li></ul><ul><li>Usefulness of online tutorial </li></ul>
  14. 14. Game Text <ul><li>Includes all written and spoken language provided by the game designers </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate language difficulty </li></ul><ul><li>Generalizability (specialized/site-specific vocabulary) </li></ul><ul><li>Necessity for task completion </li></ul>
  15. 15. Plus: User Text <ul><li>Does interplayer communication basically follow colloquial oral conventions? </li></ul><ul><li>Or are communications done in “leetspeak”? </li></ul><ul><li>1000 words in a concordancer (like LexTutor: </li></ul>
  16. 16. An aside: Text difficulty <ul><li>Impossible to gauge accurately </li></ul><ul><li>Full texts are not made available (and are constantly changing). </li></ul><ul><li>What language will the learner choose to be exposed to? </li></ul><ul><li>1) Caitlyn Gravefog needs someone to fight a wraith at the graveyard! You look like you can handle it. If you’re brave enough, find Caitlyn to the north. </li></ul><ul><li>2) Whoa! Don’t sneak up on people like that! I almost mistook you for some kind of graveyard ghost… </li></ul><ul><li>3) Hey, want to fight a wraith for me? It’s in the graveyard behind me. It’s really creepy, so please get rid of it! </li></ul><ul><li>4) Cursed Graveyard! </li></ul><ul><li>5) Something sinister is moving about the graveyard. Venture in and defeat the ominous presence! </li></ul><ul><li>6) Goals </li></ul><ul><li>7) Defeat the graveyard wraith! </li></ul><ul><li>8) Don’t get knocked out 3 times! </li></ul><ul><li>9) You received one 13 coins. </li></ul><ul><li>10) You reveived one Spunky Scrapper. </li></ul><ul><li>11) You win! </li></ul><ul><li>12) Thanks for getting rid of that wraith. I may be a gravedigger, that that thing was just scary! </li></ul><ul><li>13) You receive one amateur brawler pants. </li></ul><ul><li>14) The wraith came from a headstone I bought from Seth McGrobie. That swindler! </li></ul><ul><li>15) Find Seth and tell him I want a refund! The last thing I need is MORE ghosts in my graveyard. </li></ul><ul><li>16) As a brawler, find Seth McGrobie who was last seen travelling southeast out of Stillwater Crossing. </li></ul><ul><li>17) Yeah, yeah, you found me. I have bigger problems now. </li></ul><ul><li>18) I didn’t know the headstone was cursed, and now this ghost won’t leave me alone! I’ll give Caitlyn a refund, but the Robgoblin Pondblasters stole my merchandise because this ghost distracted me. Get my merchandise back! </li></ul><ul><li>19) As a brawler, defeat Robgoblin Pondblasters to the east of Seth McGrobie’s camp, outside of Stillwater Crossing. </li></ul><ul><li>20) Careless robgoblins are using dynamite to fish! Stop them before someone gets hurt! </li></ul>
  17. 17. Quests <ul><li>Are the quests meaningful and story-driven, or just grinding (repetitive quests, often involving the killing of monsters)? </li></ul><ul><li>Do they require an inordinate familiarity with typical RPG mechanics or lightning fast hand-eye coordination? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Evaluation (for student projects) <ul><li>From a teaching perspective, is there a way to easily evaluate student progress? </li></ul><ul><li>At the very least, is there a way to check whether students have actually been playing or not? </li></ul>
  19. 19. Student Feedback <ul><li>Has the game been piloted by students? </li></ul><ul><li>What are their impressions of the quality of learning done in such games? </li></ul>
  20. 20. In a nutshell… <ul><li>Play </li></ul><ul><li>Graph </li></ul><ul><li>Pilot </li></ul><ul><li>Implement / recommend </li></ul>
  21. 21. Aside: Research opportunities
  22. 22. 1. Group projects in Free Realms
  23. 23. 2. LOTRO Language Study
  24. 24. 3. EFL in EVE Online: A Pilot Study
  25. 25. Svensson, 2003 <ul><li>“ We have only started to explore the possibilities of virtual worlds in advanced language learning, and while there obviously is a long way to go, it seems clear they have a great deal to offer. Language learning is about language, immersion in other cultures, communication, media, intercultural meetings and role-play, and virtual arenas supply us with a place where all these can come together. It has been argued that we need to be open to exploring these worlds as well as letting students do much of the exploration themselves.” (140) </li></ul>
  26. 26. References <ul><li>Ballou, K. (2009). Language Learner Experiences in an Online Virtual World. The JALT CALL Journal . </li></ul><ul><li>Long, M. (1985). A role for instruction in second language acquisition. In K. Hyltenstam and M. Pienemann (eds), Modelling and Assessing Second Language Acquisition . Clevedon, Avon: Multilingual Matters. </li></ul><ul><li>McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is Broken . New York: The Penguin Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Schwienhorst, K. (2008). Learner Autonomy and CALL Environments . New York: Routledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Svensson, P. (2003). Virtual worlds as arenas for language learning. In U. Felix (ed), Language Learning Online: Towards Best Practice . Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger. </li></ul><ul><li>Yee, N. & Bailenson, J. (2007) The Proteus Effect: The effect of transformed self-representation on behavior. Human Communication Research, 33: 271-290 . </li></ul>