A Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game with Language Learning Strategic Activities to Improve English Grammar, Listening, Reading, and Vocabulary
This mixed-methods-collective-case-study focused on the use of an online videogame combined with second language acquisition (SLA) strategic gameplay to improve English language learners’ (ELLs) grammar, listening, reading, and vocabulary. Its purpose was to determine whether a noneducational, massively, multiplayer, online, role-playing game (MMORPG) had educational merit as an extracurricular activity for ELLs when combined with the following gaming activities to promote SLA: voice and text-based chats, forming alliances, and creating a virtual social identity.
The design included 15 participants who received 25 hours of weekly English language instruction in reading, writing, grammar, and oral skills for an eight-week term at school. For the treatment group, EverQuest® II (2016) was prescribed with the SLA optimizing strategic gameplay for four hours a week for a month after school. The control group did not receive the treatment.
The Cambridge Michigan Language Assessment (CaMLA) pretest-posttest composite mean gain scores were used to assess the participants’ grammar, listening, reading, and vocabulary performance. At end of term, the control group outperformed the treatment group on the CaMLA by 1.7 mean gain score units.
To determine vocabulary acquisition from gameplay, I developed a vocabulary pretest-posttest based on frequently occurring words from the treatment group participants’ game chat logs. The treatment group learned, on average, 15 new words representing a 30% increase on the gameplay vocabulary test.
No correlations were found between prior gaming experience and attitude toward gaming for SLA or between prior gaming experience and ESL skill performance on the CaMLA. Due to the small sample size and nonrandom assignment, this study lacked the rigor and statistical power to make valid and reliable quantitative claims of the findings. Therefore, a collective case study and mixed methods were used to corroborate and augment findings. Four impact profiles of extreme cases are provided. Emergent themes on gaming and language learning gleaned from participants were as follows: most participants had a positive attitude toward videogame play for SLA, most treatment group participants disliked the prescribed SLA strategic gameplay features and activities, and most participants preferred not to play videogames after school due to other priorities.
This dissertation is available on ProQuest.
Rogers, S. A. (2017). A MMORPG with language learning strategic activities to improve English grammar, listening, reading, and vocabulary (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 10265484)
I’m a teacher-author on TeachersPayTeachers.com (aka #TPT). I’m having a 20% off sale for cyber Monday and Tuesday on everything (#CYBER2016)! Here are the descriptions of a few of my seasonal elementary products aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
This is an 18-page document with text from story retold by Sandra Rogers in which students are provided space to illustrate the story to match the meaning described in the text. 12 vocabulary words are boldface typed within the story with definitions provided on a glossary page. It includes a vocabulary pretest. The end purpose is to have students read it to their parents or other students in the school. Students will be eager to learn the new words such as plump, almonds, and hay, so that they could accurately illustrate their self-made booklet. This activity correlates to the following #CCSS on Speaking and Listening: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
Kinder: #5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
Grade 1: #5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Grade 2: #5. Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings. (Note: The text and drawings can serve as the storyboard for recordings.)
Other similar products include the following:
K-3 Poetry Illustration: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas #CCSS SL.K.5, SL.1.5, SL.2.5, SL.3.5
K-3 Holiday Literacy Pack Bundled product includes those mentioned in this blog post plus 2 literacy center posters (Reading and Writing), a literacy activity checklist, and a generic strategy usage form for self-evaluation. #CCSS SL.K.5, SL.1.5, SL.2.5, SL.3.5
The 15 images in the presentation are photos taken of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia in the winter. The purpose of the presentation is to give students a glimpse of colonial life. The photos include children’s toys, holiday wreaths, a bedroom, chamber pot, a kitchen, a dining room, a coal-burning furnace, a cellar, a garden maze, the Governor’s Palace (The Wythe House), the Royal Capitol, a home, wallpaper, a horse-drawn carriage, and a soldier’s drum. The PowerPoint slides include brief lecture notes.
*These literature activities are also available for sale individually. Other products include Spanish language editions.
**All my products are on sale for TPT’s #CYBER2016!
Thank you for shopping Teacherrogers store!
I’m a seller on TeachersPayTeachers (aka #TPT). I’m having a 15% off sale right now on everything! Here’s a description of my bundled middle school literature pack: (aligned with #CCSS)
3 Poetry Studies
Edgar Allan Poe: 1) Annabel Lee, 2) Leonore, and 3) The Sleeper. This product includes 11 questions and answers to be used after the students read all three poems. Links are provided to website with all three poems. The discussion questions address the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for reading literature for craft and structure RL 6.4-12.4 and RL 6.5-12.5.
In the poem Annabel Lee, what do you think the poet is referring to when he says that she was taken to the kingdom on the other side of the ocean?
2 Novelette Studies
1. Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:
Novel study activities include 17 questions and an answer key. One website resource is listed. Chapter activities are divided into two parts: Chapters 1-5 and 6-10. Story not included. This product is aligned with CCSS for RL 6.1-12.1, RL 6.2-12.2, and RL 6.3-12.3.
Do you think we all have a bit of good and evil inside of us?
- Richard Bach’s book, There’s No Such Place as Far Away: 8 questions and answers provided for this literature study. Story not included. This product is aligned with CCSS for RL 6.1-12.1, RL 6.2-12.2, and RL 6.3-13.3.
This book synthesizes the philosophy of Richard Bach—nothing is impossible for those who pursue what they want. This is called objective reality. Do you believe in objective reality? First, discuss it in pairs, and then share your opinions with the group.
1 Novel Study
Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight: This product includes 20 questions, seven website resources, and an answer key. Four of the website resources include vocabulary flashcard decks based on the Twilight Saga created by Teacherrogers. Students will be able to access 25 vocabulary words from the Twilight novel, as well as 20 words from each of the other books in the series. The novel study is divided into three parts: 1) Chapters 1-4, 2) Chapters 5-13, and 3) Chapters 14-24. This product is aligned with CCSSS for RL 6.1-12.1, RL 6.2-12.2, and RL 6.3-13.3.
How do the Cullens differ from all the other students? Describe their appearance, mannerisms, and language. (Chapter 2)
1 Short Story Study
Henry James’ A Problem: 10 questions and answers are provided in this literature study. Questions focus on the key ideas and details in reading the literature. This products is aligned with CCSS for RL 6.1-12.1, RL 6.2-12.2, and RL 6.3-13.3. A link is provided to access a free electronic copy of the story.
The story includes fortunetellers. Do you believe some people can foretell the future of others? Why or why not?
***These literature activities are also available for sale individually. Other products include Spanish language editions. Thank you for shopping Teacherrogers store!
As a computer-assisted language learning (CALL) budding researcher, I selected EverQuestII(EQ2) for my second language acquisition (SLA) research study based on a previous study and similar gaming literature. Little did I know how much reading and advanced vocabulary was involved in this game—vocabulary that you need to know in order to advance to the next level. Reading fiction is a good way to improve your vocabulary. Reading while immersed in the context is even better for the language learner!
EQ2 is in the game genre of massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Scholars like Millard (2002) believe that modern technologies can improve literacy. I’m using EQ2 combined with SLA strategies as an after school intervention with English language learners’ to see if it will improve their grammar, reading, and vocabulary.
Chapelle (2001) developed criteria for CALL media selection that included language learning potential, learner fit, meaning focus, authenticity, positive feedback, and practicality. Other SLA researchers have used it to vet video game selection for their research (Miller and Hegelheimer, 2006). This criteria is a great way for me to share how impressed I am as an ESL educator with EQ2 as a medium for informal learning. Here are my initial understandings of the fit with the CALL criteria proposed by Chapelle: (albeit brief…)
- Language Learning Potential: Text-based and/or live chats with native English speakers; written support of all communication in chat logs and speech bubbles; scaffolded introduction to each player’s role; and environment, animation and audible alerts enhance understanding
- Learner Fit: Current literature indicates promise for gaming for educational purposes; EQ2 is rated T for Teen (ESRB, 2016) for a more approachable theme; and participants are university students who are familiar with online gaming
- Meaning Focus: Role-play takes on meaning of several narratives on various kingdoms; and encounters provide salutations, skirmishes, and humor,
- Authenticity: 5000 creatures to encounter on 8000 quests for situated learning encounters with non-playing characters and gamers; capability to build your own virtual identity; and possibility of failure
- Positive Feedback: Level-up announcements; tokens for continuance in gameplay; game currency for quest completion; and rewards for being courageous, etc.
- Practicality: Free up to 91 levels of play; online for ease of access anytime; and tutorials available in-game and on YouTube; and user-friendly tips and error messages.
Drawbacks include the need to have sufficient computer graphic card, hard drive storage space, and the support of a “gaming coach” for those first-time gamers. I realize that EQ2 is no longer the most sophisticated or popular game since its heyday was around 2011. Actually, this is why I selected this video game for my research study—so that participants will likely not be familiar with it.
Millard, E. (2002). Boys and the Blackstuff. National Association of for the Teaching of English (NATE) Newsletter, 16, January.
Chapelle, C. A. (2001). Computer applications in second language acquisition: Foundations for teaching, testing, and research. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Entertainment Software Rating Board. (2016). ESRB Ratings. New York, NY: Entertainment Software Association. Retrieved from https://www.everquest2.com/news/february-2016-producers-letter-holly
Miller, M., & Hegelheimer, V. (2006). The Sims meet ESL: Incorporating authentic computer simulation games into the language classroom. International Journal of Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 3(4), 311–328.
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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.
One of my friends journeyed across the Atlantic for a new job where he’ll need to learn a new language. As a farewell gift, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my practical experience in successfully learning two foreign languages while working abroad. In the past, my masters in teaching English as a second language provided me with some excellent practical strategies. These are the ones that worked for me. I hope they help you, too!
- Eaves-dropping: I learned this from my professor in graduate school, world-famous second language researcher, Dr. Rebecca Oxford. This learner strategy was mentioned as useful by students in a book she edited, Language Learning Strategies Around the World: Cross-cultural Perspectives (1996). This would fall under Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory.
Silent rehearsal (a.k.a private speech or subvocal rehearsal): I also learned this from Dr. Oxford back in the 90s.
Read your favorite children’s book in that new language. For, example, I’ve read The Little Prince in three languages—it never loses its beauty. The simplified language of a children’s book will assist you in becoming a successful reader in the second language. Your familiarity with the storyline will aid your comprehension.
Find a tutor to exchange language journals. Meet with them regularly and informally. Write about what interests you. For example, I wrote a short form of poetry in free verse in Portuguese. I still have it to this day. Your language journals will become your memorabilia.
Immerse yourself in the everyday language communicated on their radio stations, TV channels, the local newspaper, and yes, the local pub!
Learn the shared words that have crept into their language through pop culture, history, or religion. These are called friendly cognates. Also, learn the false cognates; they don’t mean the same thing.
Study, test, test, test yourself on the grammar to develop a long-term memory of it. Roediger & Karpicke (2006) found that students in the treatment group of study-test-test-test (STTT), outperformed other students in other treatment groups (SSST and SSSS). This is referred to as the testing effect.
Become the extrovert that pushes the envelope to encounter opportunities to practice the language by yourself. If you hang out with other English language speakers, they will keep you from learning the language. Try to find locations where no one speaks English.
Watch classic children’s movies in the target language. The strategy is similar to #3 but with media, you will hear the language. I remember watching Pinocchio in Spanish when I was in the Peace Corps in Honduras at a movie theater. Nowadays, you can simply select the language settings on your movie streaming devices.
Change the language settings on all of your devices. Force yourself to learn the language within a situated task. This is called situational learning.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Oxford, R. L. (Ed.). (1996). Language learning strategies around the world: Cross-cultural perspectives (No. 13). National Foreign Language Resource Center.
Roediger, H. L. III, & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). The power of testing memory: Basic research and implications for educational practice. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 181-210.
(Note: This is work-in-progress. I’ll keep adding the research basis when I have more time to devote to this.)