PAST AND FUTURE OF GAMIFICATION IN THE LEARNING OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract: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, when their application in the area of education has begun to acquire recognition. Games have turned into something more serious than just entertainment and eventually, have become a matter of importance from the point of view of research . An increase in motivation levels, and therefore in students’ involvement in their learning process, would justify in itself the introduction of video games as a common tool in education. However, there are in fact many other reasons that substantiate their use and have been highlighted in previous research, such as: easy accessibility; easy content update; high level of customization; low cost for students; the possibility their offer to develop eye-catching graphs that attract the students’ engagement in the task and/or high level of acceptance on the part of the students, who will see the educational tool as a means of entertainment .
In this study we aim at revising a number of research studies that emphasize the motivating value of a discipline that has received the name of “gamification”. Gamification gathers all the typical features of games, and especially of videogames, to exploit them in other contexts different from the original one, typically leisure. Moreover, most researchers are apparently convinced of the convenience to include video games in formal and informal education, whereas different social and educational sectors are claiming rigorous research that allows to demonstrate this fact scientifically . Attending more specifically to the learning of a foreign language, the use of video games as serious games seems to be even more valid than in other learning contexts. A recent study carried out in the year 2011  concludes that teachers of foreign languages believe that video games represent a major potential for the students’ learning processes in their subject matter than in the rest of the subjects in the curriculum.
From the theoretical research review presented herein, the need to introduce technologies as could be videogames in the classroom seems to be growing and we count with the means to design and to develop new solutions. In the next years a significant increase of gamification in our education is expected, more remarkably in English as a foreign language as it is widely learnt across the globe. The idea of using videogames for different purposes others than leisure was also defended by well-known companies in the Gartner Symposium celebrated in 2012 in Barcelona, where credible perspectives of growth of the discipline in our society were presented. The world of the videogames faces an important challenge in the immediate future much more demanding that just offering a good alternative for our spare time.
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Keywords: Gamification, education, language learning.