LEARNING ENGLISH IS FUN! INCREASING MOTIVATION THROUGH VIDEO GAMES
Nowadays, thanks to the spread of a motivating discipline named “gamification” , video games are getting into our educational methods. The idea of using games to improve the learning process in varied aspects of life is not new . Nevertheless, it has only been recently, with the proliferation of the Internet and of multiple sorts of digital devices, that teachers have started using video games for their class.
Moreover, there are video games which were developed with the original purpose of teaching, or other serious aims in a more general context. These last have been called “Serious Games”. Games, and more specifically video games, have therefore turned into something more serious than just entertainment and eventually, they have become a matter of interest from the point of view of research [3, 4].
Although there are a lot of reasons that substantiate the use of serious games as a new educational tool , the increase in student motivation levels, and thus in their involvement in their own learning process, would justify in itself their introduction in any area of our education, and particularly in the learning of a foreign language. Most educational, social and research agents are convinced of this fact; however, they are also claiming rigorous research that allows to demonstrate it scientifically .
In this paper we present a study made with 16 university students with different levels of proficiency in English, who were divided into two groups: those with a basic level (B1 or lower) and those who had an advanced one (B2 or higher). These two groups had the opportunity to get to know and interact with a serious game developed in the “Universidad Politécnica de Madrid” with the aim of helping in the teaching-learning process of English as a foreign language. Before and after the interaction, all students were interviewed on various aspects related to the English learning process. Although the results show some differences in the two groups, they mainly agree in that the use of the video game greatly increases their motivation to learn English, even though they also consider that they would be able to reach the same English level studying in a more traditional way. In addition, when the students were straightly asked about the usefulness of the video game to learn English, their answers in a graded scale of agreement, ranging from 1 to 5, had an average value of 3.76.
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 Serious games as new educational tools: how effective are they? A meta-analysis of recent studies. C. Girard, J. Ecalle, A. Magnant. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. vol. 29 pp. 207-219. 2013.
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