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Research Roundup: Game-based Learning and Language Acquisition

We don’t hide the fact that we love game-based learning and all of its many benefits – including its ability to assist students who are learning new languages! Today, we’re exploring what recent research has found on game-based learning for language acquisition. Through the following studies, we’ll explore the latest discoveries and findings on educational games for language learning.

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Augmented-reality-enhanced game-based learning in flipped English classrooms: Effects on students’ creative thinking and vocabulary acquisition

This first study explores the integration of augmented reality into game-based learning in flipped English classrooms. This research investigates the effectiveness of an AR-enhanced game-based learning (ARGBL) approach compared to traditional game-based learning in improving students’ vocabulary acquisition and creative thinking.

Students participated in either ARGBL activities or traditional paper-and-pencil games with identical content. Researchers concluded that students in the ARGBL group showed significant improvements in both vocabulary acquisition and creative thinking compared to their counterparts in the traditional group. Additionally, students expressed positive perceptions of the AR-enhanced learning experience.

This study shows that by leveraging AR technology, educators can create enriched content visualization and promote active learner engagement through gameplay. The innovative integration of image-based AR and physical board gaming encourages meaningful language use and fosters vocabulary growth and creative thinking development among English as a foreign language (EFL) learners.

Learning by designing or learning by playing? A comparative study of the effects of game-based learning on learning motivation and on short-term and long-term conversational gains

Focusing on learning motivation and short-term and long-term conversational gains, this study details researchers’ exploration of the impact of game-based learning on foreign language learners’ acquisition of sentences and discourse-level forms. This study compares three learning settings: “learning with game playing,” “learning with game designing,” and “learning without games.”

The results indicated that “learning with game playing” significantly enhanced learning motivation among participants. “Learning without games” showed facilitative effects on short-term gains, particularly with limited learning content, although this advantage diminished as content complexity increased. On the other hand, “learning with game designing” demonstrated superior effectiveness in promoting and retaining long-term gains, especially with extensive learning content. Overall, this article provides valuable insights into differentiated game-based learning practices for foreign language learners, emphasizing the importance of tailored approaches based on learning objectives and content complexity. 

A triangulation method on the effectiveness of digital game-based language learning for vocabulary acquisition

For this article, researchers tested the effectiveness of digital game-based language learning (DGBLL) for vocabulary acquisition among 8th-grade students learning English as a foreign language. The study involves 69 students aged between 12 and 14, who participated in an experiment utilizing the web-based app “Quizziz” to test vocabulary acquisition skills.

Outcomes from the pre-test, post-test, and control group design revealed significant differences between the experimental group, which used Quizziz for vocabulary practice, and the control group, which memorized vocabulary in their native language. Ultimately, the experimental group demonstrated superior vocabulary acquisition and retention, as indicated by both quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Quantitative results showed that students in the experimental group outperformed their counterparts in both interval and post-tests, highlighting the effectiveness of DGBLL for vocabulary learning. Qualitative findings indicated positive perceptions among students, who viewed DGBLL as motivating, exciting, and conducive to improved academic achievement. The incorporation of in-game power-ups and rapid feedback enhanced the learning experience and facilitated vocabulary retention.

Exploring the Potential of Digital Game-Based Vocabulary Learning: A Systematic Review

This systematic review explores the potential of Digital Game-Based Vocabulary Learning (DGBVL) and summarizes existing knowledge in the field. Researchers examined available literature accessible and identified 13 articles to analyze.

The main findings of this review suggest that DGBVL can create a positive learning environment, where students experience predominantly positive emotions, enhancing their vocabulary retention. DGBVL was found to be useful in vocabulary learning and may even surpass conventional teaching methods in English classrooms.

The review highlighted several benefits of DGBVL, including increased motivation, engagement, autonomous learning behaviors, and reduced foreign language anxiety. Students exposed to DGBVL often develop positive attitudes towards language learning and experience less nervousness about making mistakes. Furthermore, researchers found that DGBVL facilitates vocabulary learning outside the classroom, potentially expanding students’ vocabulary even after formal instruction.

Overall, this review suggests that DGBVL holds promise as an effective tool for vocabulary learning in English language education. The correct choice of digital games, along with intentional teaching strategies, can further enhance the effectiveness of game-based learning. 

Primary school students’ foreign language anxiety in collaborative and individual digital game-based learning

While the previous study mentions it, this next article zooms in on the effects of foreign language anxiety (FLA), and moreover, its composition on primary school students’ performance in collaborative and individual game-based learning settings. 

96 fifth-grade students were divided into low, moderate, and high anxiety groups based on the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS). Two classes engaged in collaborative game-based learning, while the other two participated in individual game-based learning. Collaborative game-based learning groups were further categorized into heterogeneous groups based on anxiety composition: Low & Moderate (LM), Low & High (LH), Moderate & High (MH), and Low, Moderate & High (LMH). Students in individual game-based learning group learned through gameplay individually.

Results revealed that both collaborative and individual game-based learning effectively helped students reduce FLA. Specifically, groups with a composition of Low & Moderate anxiety levels demonstrated the best game-based learning performance compared to groups with other anxiety compositions. This suggests that group composition plays a critical role in enhancing students’ learning outcomes in collaborative game-based learning, especially concerning FLA. This research highlights the importance of considering anxiety levels and group dynamics when designing collaborative game-based learning interventions for primary school English as a Foreign Language learners.

A comparative study on the effects of a VR and PC visual novel game on vocabulary learning 

In this study, researchers compared the effects of virtual reality gaming and PC gaming on English vocabulary learning among 12th grade high school students. First, 30 students were randomly assigned to either the VR group or the PC group. The VR group played a sci-fi VR visual novel game called “Angels and Demigods” using the Oculus Go headset, while the PC group played the same game in its PC version without VR elements. Both groups engaged in a fifty-minute gaming session. The study also employed vocabulary translation and recognition pretests, posttests, and delayed posttests to assess their vocabulary learning outcomes. Additionally, researchers administered a questionnaire to gauge the students’ perceptions of their respective treatments.

Both the VR group and the PC group showed improvement in vocabulary knowledge in both translation and recognition tests. However, the VR group exhibited a significantly higher mean score than the PC group in the delayed posttest for vocabulary translation. The questionnaire revealed that learners in both groups enjoyed playing the visual novel game and were open to adopting it as a tool for learning vocabulary. Based on these results, incorporating VR technology into teaching practices is promising for the future of language education.

Digital Game-Based Korean Language Learning for Russian Immigrant Children

This study examined the effectiveness of digital game-based learning in improving the Korean language ability of Russian immigrant children, with a particular focus on comparing its impact on children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared to those without ADHD. Researchers designed an 8-week crossover study involving two groups, with 4 weeks dedicated to game rounds and 4 weeks to control rounds.

The digital game used in the study, Wise-Ax™, was designed for vocabulary education among Russian immigrant children learning Korean. The game incorporated elements of competition and reward, aiming to engage children in learning Korean vocabulary. A total of 26 students participated in the study, and they underwent Korean language ability tests at 4 and 8 weeks to assess their progress.

At the study’s conclusion, more than 80% of the children expressed satisfaction with the digital game-based Korean education, which significantly enhanced their Korean language ability compared to traditional teaching methods. Moreover, children with ADHD demonstrated a greater improvement in the Korean language ability test during the game rounds compared to children without ADHD. We know first-hand that game-based learning can be powerful when it comes to learning new skills and managing ADHD!

As you can tell, language education is multifaceted. As we’ve delved into the ins and outs of above studies, it’s clear that game-based learning offers a dynamic platform for language learners of all backgrounds and abilities.

Language acquisition is influenced by a myriad of factors, including neurodivergence, anxiety levels, age, and more. The studies we’ve explored underscore the importance of tailored approaches in addressing the diverse needs of learners. From augmented reality-enhanced game-based learning to digital game-based vocabulary acquisition, each study unveils unique strategies and methodologies that cater to different learning contexts and objectives.

As educators and developers, it’s imperative to recognize the significance of these findings and integrate them into our practice. By leveraging game-based learning, we have the opportunity to create inclusive and engaging environments that foster language proficiency and confidence. Whether it’s reducing foreign language anxiety or enhancing vocabulary retention, the potential of game-based learning in language acquisition is boundless.

We’re educational game developers with a passion for game-based learning. If you’re looking to explore the possibilities of integrating game-based solutions into language learning or any other endeavor, we’re here to help. Contact us to learn more!

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