This summer, I started my research study for my dissertation on massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) combined with second language acquisition (SLA) optimizing activities. I want to find out if free, commercial video games, MMORPGs in particular, are useful in helping English language learners (ELLs) acquire English skills. Could MMORPGs be used to supplement language programs or personal learning agendas? I’ll be using EverQuest II emphasizing language interactions and social identity (use of chat log, joining guilds, and character development), as an after school add-on in a mixed-methods-collective-case-study with nonequivalent comparison group design.
In my literature review and my previous case study on gaming and language learning, ELLs self-reported that they learn English from playing video games. Also, researchers on this topic are reporting positive gains for ELLs in vocabulary and language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). My dissertation study focuses on these same skills, as well as student attitude toward gaming as a language learning tool and impact of prior gaming experience.
The goal of my study is to foster ELLs’ communicative competence—no matter their locale or socioeconomic situation. Free role-play gaming (EQII provides 91 levels of free play) can provide opportunities to access authentic language learning environments for experiential learning. MMORPGs challenge ELLs linguistically and provide accessible themes and embedded support systems. Literature on gaming indicates gamers practice information literacy skills (seeking & disseminating information), collaboration, problem-solving, and decision-making through meaningful and relevant tasks.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress and findings on this blog.