The Effects of Role Playing Games in Students’ Attitudes towards the English Language


A short synthesis of my M.Ed. Thesis.

ABSTRACT

This study examined how video games affect ESL students’ attitudes towards the English language. The findings revealed that although playing video games in general does not seem to influence attitudes towards language or language learning, the use of role playing games has a positive effect on students’ attitudes towards language, specially reading. It was also discovered that there appears to be no relationship between using role playing games and attitudes towards ESL classes. These findings may be an indication that current ways of involving students with the English language should be re-evaluated. Providing new technologies in order to improve students’ attitudes towards language may be in order.

INTRODUCTION

The society in which we live is constantly changing and developing new technologies. Certain things that were unimaginable during the Middle Ages were achieved during the Renaissance. As visionary as Leonardo Da Vinci was, there are plenty of machines and technological developments which came into being in the centuries after his death that he could not have imagined. Even now, there are conveniences that we use in our daily lives which were unimaginable thirty years ago, and new technologies are being developed by the second. One of these new technologies is video games. Video games are used by millions of people as an entertainment device. According to the Game Informer Magazine’s 2006 article The Last Great Consoles? by Reid, over 40% of American households have one of the newer video game systems (Reid, 2006), while Richard Abanes suggests that a full 50% of Americans play video games, 75% of those gamers being under 40 years old. (Abanes, 2006). Even some professionals, such as teachers, doctors, and lawyers, use video games either in their practices or during their academic preparation. According to Strayer and Raynolds (2004), doctors of medicine use Tetris for the Nintendo DS to improve hand-eye coordination, and even now many medical researchers are investigating the effects of games such as Tetris DS and Brain Age, also for the Nintendo DS, on the development of the brain. To get freshmen acquainted with basic marketing and business concepts, the Harvard Business School uses a custom-programmed business simulator called Kristen’s Cookies, in which the students assume the role of two freshmen university students running a nighttime bakery. Meanwhile, the Haas School of Business in the University of Berkley, California, uses an MIT Organizational Learning Center-designed simulator called Beer Game in which the student assumes the role of a member of a beer production and supply chain. According to Bramucci (2002), many business schools in addition to those in Harvard and Berkley are using Kristen’s Cookies. He also states that some schools of medicine use a game called Dexter, and that even law schools use video games, specifically the game Objection, as instructional resources. Furthermore, in 2005, it was registered that “more than 100 colleges and universities in America were offering courses or degrees associated with video games.” (Abanes, 2006) Some of these universities are the Southern Methodist University, Michigan State University, and the University of California.
Similarly, games have slowly become integrated in several classroom environments. History teachers use games such as Civilization and Ages of Empires to engage students in interactive retellings of history (Shreve, 2005), and a number of teachers use games such as Brain Age and Math Blaster in their classes (Hogg, 2006). Some ESP teachers are beginning to use the game Trauma Center for the Nintendo Wii to give ESL nursing and medical emergencies students a basic introduction to the human body and to help them become acquainted with certain medical tools used in operating rooms. On the whole, video games have brought about changes in the way many subjects are taught, and in the resources used to teach them.
Several hours of observation in public as well as private schools have made me concerned about the fact that there has been little change in the way English is taught in some schools. Although the Departments of Education’s Curricular Framework in most states advocate for the integration of diversified approaches and for the use of technology in the classroom, some schools still use the outdated Grammar-Translation method, with occasional mini-lessons on short stories or paragraph writing.
English language learners in communities where English is not used daily have considerably different points of view towards the English Language. Some people claim that English is the language of the conqueror, and therefore, show resistance to learning it. Others find its pronunciation too different from the sounds used in their mother tongues, and say things like “Here we don’t need English.” This later is specially true in places where English is taught as a foreign language. Attitudes such as these can be observed among many public school students, and the way that English is taught, using outdated approaches, does little to motivate students to learn the language. Settle & Knobloch (2004) suggest that using lecture-based teaching approaches make students focus more on getting a grade than on actual learning. Eventually, the students who graduate become professionals who do not know or like the English language and are, therefore, unable to communicate in the world’s lingua-franca, which limits their opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Statement of the Problem
For an individual to be truly successful, he/she needs to be able to communicate, not only locally, but also internationally. As English is quickly becoming the world’s lingua franca, individuals need to learn to communicate in English. Many professionals migrate to the United States looking for better job opportunities or a better lifestyle. According to the U.S. Census Department, 3,027,475 migrated to the U.S. from all over the Caribbean alone between 1995 and 2000. However, these people who move to the United States looking for better employment opportunities are often faced with a language barrier when they get there; they do not know, or like, the English language. Coleman (2003) suggests that resistance to second or foreign language education remains strong in the United States, which results in difficult challenges for language educators. She also suggests that this resistance to a second language is in part a result of the negative attitudes towards foreign languages, which they acquire as children, either through the influence of parents, teachers, or other children. She says that teachers have to find ways to circumvent these negative attitudes and language barriers.
Lately, as is shown by the large numbers of articles on the subject, educators have noticed changes in technology and in students’ leisure time activities. Students are spending more time using the new technology known as video games. The question remains: how can ESL educators use these new technologies in the classroom? And more importantly, do these new technologies, in this case video games, have any kind of impact on students’ attitudes towards the English language?

Purpose of the Investigation
The purpose of this investigation was to find out if Video Games, specifically Role Playing Games (RPGs) have an effect on students’ attitudes towards the English language.

Justification
In present day society, knowing how to communicate in English is a must. According to Normandia (1991), “new discoveries, technology, commercial, and industrial horizons are motivating students from the past and the present” (p. 4). As Coleman (2003) suggests, it is hard for many students to learn English given the negative attitudes that they sometimes have and display towards the language. Normandia agrees that “poor motivation and the lack of information related to the importance of mastering language skills have prevented students from learning them efficiently” (p. 3).Educators should, therefore, look for ways of motivating students to learn the English language. Many of today’s bilingual youth play video games. It may be possible that there is a relationship between these young people’s positive attitudes towards the English language and their playing video games. This research explored the possibility of there being a relationship between video games and positive attitudes towards English. If such a relationship is discovered, ESL educators could improve students’ attitudes towards the English language by using video games in the classroom.

Research Questions
The following research questions guided this study:
1. Do video games influence students’ attitudes towards the English language? If so, how?
2. Do video games influence students’ attitudes towards reading in the English language? If so, how?
3. Do video games influence students’ attitudes towards the English class? If so, how?

Limitations
This study’s main limitation was that it was conducted with 100 students who were not chosen by random sampling. The use of a sampling style other than random and the relatively small sample size means that the study cannot be generalized to all ESL students. This limitation in sampling style, which made the researcher conform to a convenience sample, resulted in an overwhelming 67% of the participants being female and only 33% of the participants being male. Furthermore, it was especially difficult to obtain participants who did not play video games. Although 73% of the participants play video games, only 51% of the total sample play role playing games, the game genre under study, which made up for this specific limitation. Another limitation was that it did not take into account other variables that may be responsible shaping for student attitudes towards English. Neglected variables include socioeconomic status and political affiliation of the family, among others. An additional limitation to this study was that at the time of the study there were very few studies carried out anywhere regarding video games and ESL, as most video game studies related to language are done focusing on literacy and narrative.
This investigation attempted to mitigate the effect of outside variables by adding them in the questionnaire and seeing how they correlate with frequency of interaction with video game simulation and with students’ attitudes towards the English language, and made up for the lack of studies by incorporating into the review of literature ideas from many of the video game related studies that exist thus far.

METHODOLOGY
The purpose of this study was to determine if there exists a relationship between video games and attitudes towards the English language. Following are the procedures that were followed by the researcher in order to carry out and complete the investigation, as well as the research design, population and sample, ethical considerations, instrument for collection of data, validity and reliability of the instrument, procedure, and statistical analysis.

Research Design
This investigation was a correlation study, for which the researcher used a survey design. It was a quantitative study which involved statistical analysis of collected data in order to answer research questions. The survey design did not allow for control of external variables, nor did it take into consideration all of the possible reasons for varying attitudes towards the English language. The subjects were not randomly selected. The lack of information on people who play video games did not allow for a random sampling of the participants, therefore, a convenience sample was be used. Using a questionnaire, the researcher asked 100 participants about their attitudes towards several aspects of the English language, the ESL classroom, and video games, in order to measure the relationship between frequency of playing video games and attitudes towards the English language. In order to find correlation, the Pearson formula, which is used to find correlation between two variables (King & Minium, 2003).
Below is an illustration of the formula used to compute Pearson’s correlation coefficient:

This formula was applied to the questionnaire items reflecting video game playing variables which were juxtaposed with questionnaire items reflecting attitudes towards different aspects of the English language.

Population and Sample
The target population of this study was teenage ESL learners. The study was carried out with 100 subjects. They were school students between the ages of 10 to 18 and university students of up to 30 years of age. Seventy three of these participants were video game players and only twenty seven were not video game players; however, only fifty one individuals in the sample played role playing video games, while 49 individuals did not. Thirty three percent of the participants were male, while sixty seven percent of the participants were female, and while the majority of the participants belong to the age groups 16 – 19 and 20 – 23, with twenty seven participants in each of these age categories, there is a substantial representation in all the other age groups. Only 2% of the participants claim English as their first language. Due to the lack of formal information on people’s video game playing habits, the sample was a convenience sample.

Ethical Considerations
To protect the rights of the participants, the researcher guaranteed the participants’ privacy. The researcher provided the participants with a formal letter of consent stating the following (Appendix I): 1) Purpose of the study, 2) Kind of research design to be implemented, 3) Request of parents’ authorization for underage participants, 4) Request for voluntary participation in study, 5) Statement informing the participant the right to abandon the study at any time, 6) Assurance of confidentiality, and lastly, 7) Commitment of the researcher to inform the results and findings of the study.

Instrument for Collecting Data
To find out the effects of video games on students’ attitudes towards the English language, the researcher used a questionnaire with close-ended questions. The questionnaire had statements like “I enjoy the Role Playing Games (RPGs)” and “I like to read in English”, and used the following scale for measuring attitudes:
Completely agree = 1 point
Agree = 2 points
Not sure = 3 points
Disagree = 4 points
Completely disagree = 5 points

Validity and Reliability
In order to secure validity and reliability of the instrument to be used, the design of the instrument used followed that of the questionnaire used my Maria J. Hernandez Aponte in her thesis The effect of computer-assisted instruction on the attitudes and achievement of ESL students (1987). Also, the construction of the questionnaire followed the guidelines provided by the Texas Center for Educational Technology. Furthermore, the questionnaire was submitted for evaluation to professionals in the fields of research and evaluation, linguistics, and curriculum.

Procedure
In order to achieve the purpose of this study, the researcher looked for willing participants who were representative of the target population. The researcher contacted all of the appropriate authorities, including but not limited to, evaluation committees and participants’ parents, before handing out the survey questionnaires to the students. The researcher then handed the questionnaires to the participants in sealed envelopes, along with the letter of informed consent. Afterwards, the researcher explained to the participants the purpose of the study and answered any questions they had about the study or the questionnaire. All of the items in the letters of consent and assent were thoroughly discussed with every single participant. After the participants filled out the signed the appropriate permits and the questionnaires, they put the questionnaire in a box along with all the other questionnaires, and inserted the permits containing their signatures in a different box. This allowed for complete anonymity of the participants. After having obtained the target amount of questionnaires filled out by the participants, the researcher input, organized, and analyzed the data using Microsoft Excel, and then produced the final report.

Statistical Analysis of the Data
The analysis of the data was carried out using the specialized spreadsheet and statistical analysis program Microsoft Excel. First, the answers collected from the surveys were entered into the computer as raw data. Next, the researcher decided which questionnaire items should be analyzed to find a correlation value that would answer the research questions. In order to find correlation between video game playing factors and attitudes towards the English language, the following items were taken into account: for the correlation study:
Item # 1 – I possess basic English skills.
Item # 2 – I like to play video games
Item # 3 – I enjoy playing Role Playing Games (RPGs)
Item # 4 – I like the English language
Item # 5 – I like the English class
Item # 6 – I like to read in English

Item # 1 was correlated with items # 2 and # 3. This determined the relationship between playing video games, and more specifically RPGs, and basic English language proficiency. Items # 2 and # 3 were correlated with items # 4, # 5, and # 6, which determined how the use of video games, and RPGs in specific, affects student attitudes towards the English language in general, towards the ESL class, and towards reading in English.
Items 7 through 10 were used to determine student’s attitudes towards specific contexts of the use of English. Item # 11 was used to determine students’ willingness to engage in the use of video games in the classroom, and items 12 through 18 were used to help define the sample.
Once the data were analyzed and the researcher decided which items to correlate, he proceeded to give a specific value to the answers in each of the items. After assigning a value to each answer and converting the answers into the five-point scale used, the researcher applied the Pearson Correlation Coefficient formula to each of the variables, and then verified the process by using Excel’s integrated function that gives Pearson’s correlation value. This gave a correlation coefficient between -1.0 and 1.0 to all the items that were analyzed. The researcher used the program’s chart options to produce graphical representations to allow for easy interpretation of the data. The independent t-test followed. This test determined whether the investigation had any statistical significance or not.

RESULTS
This study sought to determine if there was any relationship between the playing of video games, specifically role playing games, and attitudes towards the English language. It also expected to find ways in which to incorporate said video games into the ESL classroom in order improve students’ attitudes towards the English language and to make them interested in learning the target language. First, the statistical procedures will be discussed, jointly with the demonstration of the results in the tables and graphics provided. This will be followed by a discussion of the literature that suggests how to use video games in the ESL classroom.

Statistical Procedures
The data collected to answer the first three research questions, Do video games influence students’ attitudes towards the English language?, Do video games influence students’ attitudes towards reading in the English language?, and Do video games influence students’ attitudes towards the English class? respectively were analyzed according to the statistical procedures required for a correlation analysis. First, the data was input into the spreadsheet program Excel. Afterwards, the data was tabulated.
Table 1: Tabulation of Data

Next, the researcher decided which items to correlate. Item # 1 was correlated with items # 2 and # 3. This determined the relationship between playing video games, and more specifically RPGs, and basic English language proficiency. Items # 2 and # 3 were correlated with items # 4, # 5, and # 6, which determined how the use of video games, and RPGs in specific, affects student attitudes towards the English language in general, towards the ESL class, and towards reading in English. To determine the level or degree of correlation between two elements, four of the most recent authors on educational research, King & Minium (2003), McMillan (2004), Creswell (2005), and Best & Kahn (2006) were consulted.

Figure 1: Correlation graph between items # 1 and # 2


Pearson’s correlation value for the variables of degrees of English proficiency and frequency of playing video games is .65. Even though according to McMillan (2004) and Creswell (2005) the correlation level between these two variables is moderate, it borders on being high. However, according to King & Minium (2003) and Best and Kahn (2006), the relationship between these two variables is high. This hints at the existence of a relationship between the two variables.

Figure 2: Correlation graph between items # 1 and # 3


Pearson’s correlation value for the variables of degrees of English proficiency and frequency of playing RPGs is .85. This correlation coefficient is considered to be a very high value by all four authors, which hints at there being a very strong relationship between role playing games and English language proficiency.

Figure 3: Correlation graph between items # 2 and # 4


Pearson’s correlation value for the variables of video game playing frequency and attitudes towards the English language is .69. This correlation coefficient is considered to be a moderate value by McMillan (2004), but is considered as high by King & Minum (2003), Creswell (2005), and Best & Kahn (2006). This hints at a relationship between video games and positive attitudes towards the English language.

Figure 4: Correlation graph between items # 2 and # 5


Pearson’s correlation value for the variables of video game playing frequency and attitudes towards the ESL class is .08. This correlation coefficient is considered to be a very low value by all four authors. This means that there is no correlation whatsoever between video games and positive attitudes towards the ESL class.

Figure 5: Correlation graph between items # 2 and # 6


Pearson’s correlation value for the variables of video game playing frequency and attitudes towards reading in the English language is .66. This correlation coefficient is considered to be a moderate value by McMillan (2004), but is considered as high by King & Minum (2003), Creswell (2005), and Best & Kahn (2006). This hints at a relationship between playing video games and attitudes towards reading in English.

Figure 6: Correlation graph between items # 3 and # 4


Pearson’s correlation value for the variables of RPG playing frequency and attitudes towards the English language is .89. This correlation coefficient is not only higher than the correlation coefficient between items # 2 and # 4, but is also considered to be a very high value by all four authors. This hints at the existence of a very strong relationship between playing role playing games and attitudes towards the English language.

Figure 7: Correlation graph between items # 3 and # 5

Pearson’s correlation value for the variables of RPG playing frequency and attitudes towards the ESL class is .31. This correlation coefficient is considered to be a moderate relationship only by King & Minium (2003), and even then it borders on being low. According to McMillan (2004), Creswell (2005), and Best & Kahn (2006), this relationship is weak, meaning that the possibility of there being an actual relationship between playing RPGs and attitudes towards the ESL class are very low. However, it should be noted that the correlation between RPGs and attitudes towards the ESL class are still higher than the correlation of video games in general and attitudes towards the ESL class.

Figure 8: Correlation graph between items # 3 and # 6

Pearson’s correlation value for the variables of RPG playing frequency and attitudes towards reading in the English language is .93. This astonishing correlation coefficient is considered to be a very high value by all four authors. Such a high value strongly suggests the existence of a very strong relationship between playing role playing games and attitudes towards reading in the English language.

In order to find out whether the investigation has any statistical significance, a t-test was carried out. In order to do this, College of St. Benedict’s St. John’s t-test module was used. According to King & Minium (2003, p. 333), for a test to be of statistical significance, the probability of a result assuming the null hypothesis should be of 1% or less. According to the results obtained from the module, all the correlation scores are statistically significant. The probability of assuming the null hypothesis in with each of the correlations is as presented in table 2.

Table 2: Probability of Assuming the Null-Hypothesis

Items Probability of assuming Null Hypothesis
Items # 1 and # 2 .0007
Items # 1 and # 3 .92
Items # 2 and # 4 .0002
Items # 2 and # 5 .64
Items # 2 and # 6 .0003
Items # 3 and # 4 .69
Items # 3 and # 5 .0001
Items # 3 and # 6 .57

This statistical analysis suggests that although video games in general may not have a strong direct relationship in student’s attitudes towards the English language, role playing games do. While neither video games in general nor role playing games seem to directly affect attitudes towards the English class, the collected data reflects that 65% of the surveyed participants would like video games to be incorporated into the ESL classroom, with 19% of the participants being undecided and only 16% of the participants being in disagreement. Taking this into consideration, ESL teachers should attempt to integrate video games into the ESL classroom, as long as the students are willing to participate in the activities.
The findings observed suggest that by integrating video games into the ESL curriculum, educators can still use strategies that have been proven to work in other teaching contexts and give students activities that they find relevant to their daily lives. Based on these findings, the researcher presents the conclusions, implications, and recommendations.
CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This study explored how video games, specifically role playing games, affect students’ attitudes towards the English language. It also investigated how these video games could be used in the ESL classroom to ameliorate the language acquisition process and to improve student attitudes towards the English language. The findings in this investigation helped the researcher arrive at the conclusions, suggest the implications, and make the recommendations included in this chapter.

Conclusions
At the end of the investigation and based on the analysis and discussion of the data and a review of the findings, the researcher arrived at the following conclusions:
• Although video games in general, meaning fighting games, shooting games, and sports games, amongst others, may not necessarily affect student attitudes towards the English language, the use of role playing games like Valkyrie Profile and Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete has some effect on students’ attitudes towards the English language.
• Role playing games influence these attitudes in a positive manner.
• Although video games in general may not necessarily affect student attitudes towards the reading of texts in the English language, the use of role playing games like Odin Sphere and Growlanser: Generations have a major effect in students’ attitudes towards reading in the English language.
• Role playing games greatly influence student’s attitudes towards reading in the English language in an extremely positive manner.
• Neither video games in general nor role playing games have any effects on student attitudes towards the English class.

The researcher concluded that the overall effect of role playing games in attitudes towards English is positive. However, video games do not seem to influence all aspects of the English language learning, as there was no relationship found between video games and attitudes towards the English classroom. Additional research will be necessary in order to unveil the true potential of role playing games as classroom tools.

Implications
After an analysis of the correlation study carried out with the variables regarding video games and those regarding the English language, and based on the conclusions that were derived from the study, certain implications can be made. Statistical evidence suggests that although video games in general may not necessarily affect students’ attitudes towards the English language, it is very possible that the use of role playing games like Valkyrie Profile and Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete do have some effect in students’ attitudes towards the English language. This is likely so because role playing games are a genre of video games that revolves around language. However, being a language-based game is not enough for games to motivate students. In order to motivate students to learn a language through a game, the game itself must be able to engage the students. Role playing games, as Gordal (2003) suggests, motivate players because of their nested hierarchical design which focuses on high order goals (p. 131). High order goals are perceived by the player as quests. In order to engage in these quests, players must read through texts and listen to pre-recorded conversations. This implies that exposure to the English language as presented in an engaging video game is likely to influence in a positive way the players’ attitudes towards the language itself.
Even though video games in general may not necessarily affect students’ attitudes towards the reading of texts in the English language, as the correlation value between video games and reading borders on moderate, it is extremely likely, perhaps even a given, that the use of role playing games like Odin Sphere and Growlanser: Generations have a major effect in students’ attitudes towards reading in the English language. Of course, the games themselves must be not only motivating, but fun. As Bramucci (2002) states, “games are a form of play that motivates us because they are fun” (p.1). In other words, a fun game will motivate a player to become immersed in it, and if the game is a role playing game, the result will often be positive attitudes towards reading English. This is likely to be so because, even though role playing games do have hours of spoken dialogue, the main language component of these games revolve around text. In order for characters to equip themselves with necessary items, the player must navigate through language-driven menus. In order to engage in combat the player must navigate through language-driven menus. In order to fully understand the culture and characters embedded in the game, the player must engage in conversations with digitalized individuals. These conversations are more often than not carried out using text. Whenever the player needs to respond to another character’s remarks, perform an action that is not part of the game’s main design, or use an item, the player must go through written text. This engagement with the reading of text is likely to give players a positive attitude towards reading in the language portrayed in the games, in this case, English. All this implies that role playing games greatly influence students’ attitudes towards reading in the English language in an extremely positive manner.
Even though role playing games seem to have a positive effect on students’ attitudes towards the English language in general and towards reading in English, they do not have any effects on students’ attitudes towards English language classes. Statistical evidence shows that the correlation value between video games and attitudes towards the English class are extremely low. It is possible that the main factor influencing student attitudes towards the English class is not so much the tools used in the class, but how the teacher presents the material and integrates the tools available. These results, along with the fact that 65% of the surveyed participants stated that they would like video games to be incorporated into the ESL classroom, with 19% of the participants being undecided and only 16% of the participants being in disagreement, implies even though neither video games nor role playing games affect students’ attitudes towards the ESL class, that it is possible that incorporating video games into the ESL classroom may make class more enjoyable in the eyes of the students.
Still, even with statistical and theoretical evidence arguing in favor of the integration of video games into the ESL curriculum, video games should not be the core component of an ESL class. Even though Role-Playing games, have incredible potential as a language development and enhancement tools as they have extensive plots, interesting characters, colorful settings, and themes relevant to everyone, the teacher is the one who guides the lesson. This implies that teachers should integrate video games into the curriculum in a manner that not only helps students be exposed to the language, but also helps develop their language communication and critical thinking skills. The use of varied teaching strategies designed to enhance the gaming experience and turn it into a real educational event, like the writing of journals and the discussion of plot and characters, is a must, after all, video games are no replacement for a language teacher, but a tool to be used by language teachers.
Brown (2000) states that for acquisition to happen, students must “relate and anchor new material to relevant established entities in the cognitive structure” (p. 83). Furthermore, Gee (2004) states that “people learn best when their learning is part of a highly motivated engagement with social practices they value” (p. 77). This implies that in integrating video games into the ESL curriculum, teachers are showing students that there are social practices that are relevant to them that revolve around the target language. This motivates students to learn the language in order to complete the game. Making the playing of the game a competitive event amongst students is sure to make them even more motivated to master the language in order to complete the game before their peers. The game in itself exposes the students to new vocabulary, both written and spoken, and the activities designed around the game are bound to make the students enthusiastic both about the game and the use of the language. This will result in positive attitudes towards the English language.

Recommendations
The first recommendation is that provisions should be made for students to have access to role playing games in the ESL classroom, in order to develop positive attitudes towards the English language. Furthermore, these video games should be integrated into the ESL curriculum. To do this, it is recommended that schools be equipped with video game systems and a library of age-appropriate role playing games.
Another recommendation is that teachers play and evaluate role playing games before they are added to their schools’ video game libraries. Even though role playing games like Tales of Eternia and Ar Tonelico have all the elements to make them a successful classroom title, some of the ideas in these games, like betrayal and jealousy, can be dealt with by teenagers but may be a bit too much to handle for small children. Furthermore, role playing games that are considered as works of art, like Shadow of the Colossus, are indeed grandiose in their game-play and offer hours of fun, but lack in any elements that may immerse students in the English language. Also, there are some games, like Postal 2, which are simply too violent or too grotesque to be used in an ESL classroom.
A third recommendation is that students be given a session of play during the week in order to become acquainted with, and later immersed in, the role playing games of their choosing. This will allow them to become engaged not only in the game, but in the language portrayed in the game as well. Making the playing of the game a competitive event amongst students is sure to make them even more motivated to master the language in order to complete the game before their peers.
Finally, it is recommended that activities related to video games be integrated to the curriculum. Video games should not be the core component of an ESL class. Teachers should integrate video games into the curriculum in a manner that not only helps students be exposed to the language, but also helps develop their language communication and critical thinking skills. The use of web logs or journals, classroom discussions, written reports, and character analyses are strongly recommended. Making the playing of the game a competitive event amongst students is highly recommended.
This investigation is one of the first of its nature. Not many other studies have examined the effects of video games on language learning or on student attitudes. Based on the results of this research, future investigations could conform to a quasi-experimental design with a pre-test and a post-test in order to see whether video games affect student academic performance. In another study, the researcher could utilize to a qualitative-narrative design and look at whether playing video games affect student behavior in the classroom.

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About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on October 15, 2010, in Education Commentary, Video Game Commentary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. English is not the World’s lingua franca

    Shame on you for your support to the language imperialiasm of English.

    • Given that most academic papers that are recognized internationally are written in English, that it is the first language of some of the world’s most economically stable and politically powerful nations, the official second language of many other nations, that there are several nations who speak their own variations of the language, and that even people in nations where English is not an official language strive to learn it for professional bennefit I would argue that if it is not, it will become so soon.

      Still, let’s take your hypothesis as a given. The implication of this study is not that videogames should be used as a colonizing instrument for the English language, but that they are a valuable tool to get students to enjoy language learning – regardless of the language being taught. I used English for this study because where the investigation was carried out English is the official second language – Spanish being the mother tongue.
      Some of my other studies have the implication that videogames can help students learn language better than traditional texts.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment.

  2. I enjoyed reading your investigation. It was very interesting. I am currently working on an investigation as well related to role play and oral communications skills.

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