Dear First Generation College Student,

Dr. Rogers shows participants the various learning activities provided in StudyMate program

Dear First Generation College Student,

Decades ago, I was you. Specifically, I was first-generation low-income (#FLI). Now, I have a doctorate and teach and train others. As an undergraduate, this was not my goal, as I simply pursued a single college degree and a good job. Math, science, and writing were difficult topics for me due to poor reading skills and lack of academic vocabulary. Why? Several variables lead to poor reading and vocabulary, some of which may apply to you. These insights are based on my past experience as an FLI college student and work experience as a developmental reading instruction specialist:

  • Lack of prior practice reading (e.g., no library visits or books around the house due to lack of funds, free time, or low priority/value);
  • Lack of K-12 homework help (e.g., no available time with a parent, parent unable to tackle homework or no funds for tutors);
  • No direct instruction of reading skills and strategies in secondary school (i.e., generally secondary schools focus solely on writing skills in English class); and
  • Peer or family pressure for the practical status quo.

Lacking academic vocabulary is a snowball effect because, with each scholastic year, more vocabulary is taught or otherwise required of you. Don’t fret, with a lot of effort and a growth mindset, you can decrease the gap between you and your high-achieving peers. Tackle your reading assignments early by previewing (skimming and scanning) and looking up unknown words. Keep a log of useful words to reuse in your writing assignments. Use software applications such as electronic flashcards and Grammarly.

Here are some reading comprehension strategies & study aids:

  • Use this online form to review, summarize, study, and think about your reading assignment: Student Guides & Strategies
  • SQ4R: Interact with the text by following the SQ4R strategies: survey, question, read, respond, record, and review. This originated from Robinson’s (1970) SQ3R study method of survey, question, read, recite, and review.
  • Cornell Note-Taking was developed by Walter Paulk at Cornell University in the 1940s and is still used today. Download Cornell’s PDF to use.
  • Learn how to read a scientific article with these Study Guides & Strategies.

This presentation provides some metacognitive strategies to improve your reading skills for college: (Cook, 1989)

For more information on metacognitive strategies, and to access a student learning organizer, visit my college’s LibGuide on Learning Strategies.

References

Cook, D. M. (1989). Meta-cognitive behaviours of good and poor readers: Strategic learning in the content areas. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  

Robinson, F. P. (1970). Effective Study (4th Edition). New York, NY: Harper & Row.

My TeachersPayTeachers Best Selling Products

Green katydid eating pollen off of a pink zinnia
TPT Freebie Photo in Teacherrogers Store

TeachersPayTeachers (TPT) has its back-to-school sale this week with up to 25% off with the #BTSFRESH code.  I thought it would be good to share a list of my 6 best selling TPT products with you. They are as follows: (Some are aligned with the Common Core State Standards.)



TPT is an open marketplace for teachers to sell their self-produced (teacher-authored) material.  To learn more about TPT, see my blog page

Sandra Annette Rogers

Teacherrogers’ store is on #TPT

My Dissertation Abstract on MMORPGs to Improve ESL Skills

A Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game with Language Learning Strategic Activities to Improve English Grammar, Listening, Reading, and Vocabulary

Brightly colored winged-ferry is learning about a quest from a farmer in his field.
Example of roleplay in EverQuestII

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)

What kind of vocabulary can you learn from role-playing videogames?

Brightly colored winged-ferry is learning about a quest from a farmer in his field.
Example of gameplay in EverQuestII

In my gaming research study with EverQuestII® (EQII), I was pleasantly surprised to see a dominance of neutral words and only a slight majority of negative words over positive ones. This is based on the participants’ text-based, chat logs that I analyzed with the vocabulary concordancer called Range. Chat logs include language from the non-playing characters (NPCs), playing characters (gamers), and game alerts. Range parses the most frequently used words from a text file. I categorized the top 109 most frequently occurring words according to their positive, negative, and neutral attributes.

Positive Words: achievement, benefits, bonuses, boost, defeating, defense, eligible, encounter, focus, gain, health, increases, loot, points, power, prestigious, promotion, purchase, relieve, and reviving

Negative Words: assassin, combat, corpses, critical, crush, damage, debt, destroyer, destruction, disbanded, disruption, drained, fails, fanatic, fear, infected, inflict, interrupted, intimidation, overrun, purulent, slashing, slay, strike, suffering, threat, and loot* (actually a positive word in videogame context).

Neutral Words: absorbs, agility, already, attributes, banner, beetle, claim, collect, commoner, consciousness, consider, convert, copper, current, dedicated, discourse, discovered, dwarf, engage, errands, forum, griffon, hail, icon, idle, levels, limb, magic, melee, member, mentoring, northwest, outpost, parries, piercing, reset, reverse, reward, rifts, riposte, shield, silver, spirit, stamina, statesmen, strength, target, thirst, throne, tower, trade, trigger, unique, unknown, untamed, vocals, weight, zone, and purchase

EQII is a text-heavy, massively, multiplayer, online, role-playing game (MMORPG).  It’s a fantasy game with various virtual worlds, numerous characters to play, and thousands of quests, so the language encountered won’t be exactly the same for everyone.  Nevertheless, I noticed some of the same language being encountered at the early levels of play. For my dissertation study, I used some of these common words parsed from English language learning (ELL) participants’ chat logs for their pretest-posttest of new words learned from gameplay. I wanted to know whether MMORPGs combined with ELL strategies are a good extracurricular activity.

Computer-assisted Language Learning and Media Selection

This blog was originally posted on the AACE Review (Rogers, 2018).

Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is the interactive use of technology to foster second language acquisition by providing meaningful opportunities to practice a language in environments beyond that which is available in the confines of a classroom. It began with the stimulus-response of programmed instruction in the 1960s with the programmed logic for automatic teaching operations’ (PLATO) Latin courses for K-16. Nowadays, it’s based on the communicative approach to second language acquisition (SLA) with authentic communication derived from meaningful activities beyond academia.  Basically, the use of technology to practice a language in realistic contexts. Of note, non-language related computer learning, in general, is referred to as computer-mediated learning or computer-assisted instruction.

Computer-based or mobile applications of videogames are one type of CALL media. For example, Trace Effects is a videogame developed by the U.S. Department of State for juvenile English language learners to teach language skills and American Culture abroad. It’s a comprehensive language program based on the communicative approach to language learning (Rogers, 2014).  It also has a mobile application called Trace Word Soup for vocabulary development. CALL is not only about videogames. It also includes web-conferencing or other collaborative tools (e.g., blogs, podcasts, Minecraft) in which a person practices learning a language skill (reading, writing, grammar, or speaking) or combination of skills with the assistance of technology while engaging with others in the target language.

The Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association has a CALL Interest Section that is very active. In fact, their annual, all-volunteer, free Electronic Village Online (EVO) workshop sessions begin January 14th and run for five weeks. See EVO’s 2018 workshop offerings to learn more.  I’m the technologist I am today because of the professional development I received from the EVO workshops and self-proclaimed ‘Webheads’. For example, I learned how to script and film movies in SecondLife and prepare an ESL lesson on the machinima (machine made cinema) production. Other professional associations that focus on CALL include EUROCALL and the Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO.org).

How do you select the right media for CALL for your students, context, and content? Chapelle (2001) developed the following media selection criteria for CALL: language learning potential, learner fit, meaning focus, authenticity, positive feedback, and practicality.  Jamieson, Chapelle, and Preiss (2005) modified these criteria by replacing positive feedback with a positive impact. I would include both positive/negative feedback from the computer interactions, as well as its positive impacts. The following excerpt from my SLA dissertation study describes the videogame EverQuest II’s (EQII) potential for CALL based on Chapelle’s (2001) media criteria: (Rogers, 2017, pp. 3-9)

  • Language learning potential–Provides text-based and/or live chats with native English speakers, model language from non-player characters (NPCs); written support of all communication in chat logs and speech bubbles (See Figure 1); animated environment to explore, raid, craft a profession, and experience player versus player or solo encounters in battlegrounds or world events; and audible alerts, meters, and signage enhance understanding;

  • Learner fit–Current literature indicates promise for massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) for educational purposes; EQII is rated T for Teen (ESRB, 2016) for a more approachable theme; scaffolded introduction to each player’s role;
  • Authenticity–Provides 5000 creatures to encounter on 8000 quests for situated learning encounters with NPCs and gamers; the possibility of failure (See Figure 2); capability to build your own virtual identity (See blogger’s gamer identity in Figure 3);

  • Meaning focus–Role-play takes on the meaning of several narratives on various kingdoms; encounters provide salutations, skirmishes, and humor (See Figure 4); NPCs provide quests, which serve as a cueing system;

  • Positive feedback–Provides level-up announcements, tokens for continuance in gameplay, game currency for quest completion (See Figure 5), praise from quest handlers upon completion, and rewards for being courageous; and

Figure 5. Quest reward, EverQuest® II screenshot image © 2004-2015 Daybreak Game Company LLC

  • Practicality–Provides free play; available online for ease of access anytime; tutorials available in-game (See Figure 6 for guide) and online hint books, websites, and community boards; in-game user-friendly tips and error messages provide instant feedback.`

References

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

Jamieson, J., Chapelle, C., & Preiss, S. (2005). CALL evaluation by developers, a teacher, and students. CALICO Journal, 23(1), 93-138. Retrieved from http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1045&context=engl_pubs

Rogers, S. (2014). Program theory logic model of Trace Effects video game. Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, 1662-1674. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

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)

Goals of Research Study on MMORPGs + SLA Strategies

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Trace Effects Video Game for Learning English as a Foreign Language

Trace and other characters in the game called Trace Effects
Source: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

What is it?

Trace Effects is an educational 3-D multimedia interactive video game that can be played individually off-line from a DVD or online individually or with a group.  There’s also a complimentary mobile app called Trace Word Soup, which is a vocabulary game. Trace Effects was designed for English language learners (ELLs) ages 12-16 by the United States Department of State (DOS), Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

What does it teach?

The game teaches American English and culture in the context of a student entering a university setting for the first time.  For example, Trace, the main character, navigates the campus in search of the student information center to obtain his student identification card in order to access certain buildings and ultimately progress to the next level of play. This game (and all of its supporting material) is part of an outreach program of the Office of English Language Programs and the American English resource center, which supports the efforts of the Regional English Language Officers (RELOs) worldwide.  RELOs work directly with English language specialists to promote American culture and English language learning activities in public and private schools abroad.

What learning principles and practices is it based on?

I was able to interview key stakeholders about the game’s program theory.  Based on their comments and my review of the game and existing documents, I concluded that Trace Effects is based on the following major concepts: cognitivism, constructivism, the communicative approach to language acquisition, the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Technology Standards Framework, and gaming as an instructional strategy.  Moreover, the DOS’s vision (pillars) factor into the game.  The following DOS pillars are embedded in the levels/lessons of the game: entrepreneurship, community activism, empowering women, science and innovation, environmental conservation, and conflict resolution.

Who is the target audience?

The game was designed specifically for secondary school students in various nations who are involved in the English Access Micro-scholarship Program.  This is one of the State Department’s outreach efforts to provide English language skills to talented 13-20 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors of the world through after-school classes.  The purpose is to provide an opportunity for participants to improve their English skills to increase their chances of better employment and/or entrance into post-secondary schools. For example, Access participants may compete for, and participate in, future exchanges and study in the United States. 

How will one know if users improved their English language ability and/or learned about American culture by using the game?  

In the Trace Effects’ teacher manual, teachers are encouraged to assess students before and after so many hours of playtime (pretest/posttest).  There are numerous extension activities in the teacher’s manual to assess learning (alternative assessments).  For example, the student worksheets associated with each chapter allow teachers to monitor student learning.  Students can monitor their own learning through the passive game feedback of points, redirects, and level achievement (self-regulation).  Students share their progress on an electronic log with their teacher.  There are competitions held worldwide for the record of the highest scorer.  Stakeholders reported that educators could conduct action research to compare a control group that does not play the game with that of the treatment group that does.  Another idea is using think-alouds for qualitative research—taking notes on what students report on while playing the game (phenomenology).

How can I access this game for my students?

Visit the US DOS website to play the game and download the manual.  If you teach English abroad, contact your local RELO for access to the Trace Effects DVD and supporting material to use in your classroom.  Click here to learn how to download the Trace Word Soup app.

To learn about the program theory behind the game, see my logic model of Trace Effects.

Your blogger,

Sandra Rogers

P. S. A special thanks to the US DOS Office of English Language Programs for the use of this image.

Reference

Rogers, S. (2014). Program Theory Logic Model of Trace Effects Video Game. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2014 (pp. 1662-1674). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.