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Computer Games to Support English Learners
By Tracee Sterry

Computer games can come in all sorts of forms: action, adventure, strategy, role-playing, simulations, etc. Fortunately for students today, there are educational games that fall under each of these categories, and even more fortunate for English learners, there are educational games that help develop language skills for non-native speakers. The following articles and studies have been included on this wiki, as they each provide great insight into this innovative pathway to language learning.

Online Vocabulary Games as a Tool for Teaching and Learning English Vocabulary

By Florence Yip and Alvin Kwan

This paper reports a study of the usefulness of online games in vocabulary learning for English learners. Three teachers and 100 engineering students participated in a quasi-experimental study for approximately nine weeks. The experimental group learned some vocabulary from two carefully selected web sites with games, while the control group learned the same vocabulary through activity-based lessons. The findings indicate that the experimental group outperformed the control group and the students in the experimental group preferred the supplementary educational games over the conventional activity-based lessons.

Learning English with the Sims: Exploiting Authentic Computer Simulation Games for L2 Learning
By Jim RanalliThis study looks at the context-rich and cognitively engaging virtual environments that simulation games provide. The author, however, was curious to see if these beneficial aspects of simulations could be used to the advantage of language learning, as these types of games are in short supply. The researcher was interested in seeing if games designed for the mass-market be enhanced with support materials to allow English learners to enter and make use of them for language learning. This classroom-based investigation looked into whether The SIMs could be rendered to support ESL learners by means of supplementary materials. After adjustments were made to the game, the study found statistically significant improvements in vocabulary knowledge, as well as a generally positive reaction to the modifications among users.

Teaching English to Non-native Speakers
This article discusses a program called ELLIS Kids Suite, an English instruction program designed specifically for young learners. The program contains three levels of language proficiency and is complete with videos of real life situations, context-based instruction and entertaining games and activities. The program combines basic vocabulary development with phonics-based beginning reading instruction. Each lesson engages learners through animated songs and native language-supported instruction, motivating games and quizzes. This program follows many of the requirements listed in AT, as it provides frequent on-screen feedback, opportunities to review the content, and the option of extended practice activities that provide even more learning support.

In conclusion...
To sum up the findings, the reviewed articles and studies generally proved the following:
-Many games are becoming increasingly realistic and interactive, which offers great potential for language learning.
-Many games can be easily adapted to support English learners (such as the Sims games). Adaptations can be done by the teacher, however many studies have discussed the possibility of students actually adapting the programs and gaining great benefits from the experience.
-Games have been used in education for years and years, therefore their use to support English learners seems like a given.
-Games dramatically increase students’ motivation when performing language learning tasks, such as vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and sentence structure.


Online Computer Games to Support English Learners- Critiques of the Design
Learnenglish Kids - http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids.htm
This website offers a variety of games to help students learn English. In addition to games, the site offers stories, activities, and practice for reading and writing. There is also a section for parents to receive support in helping their child learn English. The website does a good job of offering help. Whether the user is engaging in a game, or simply browsing the site, the user always has an option to seek help. The homepage, however, seems extremely cluttered.


Learnenglish Kids Homepage


I think this could make navigating the site difficult for a new user. Another aspect that makes navigating the site a bit confusing is the links. Many times it is difficult to know which item to click on to be linked to the desired destination. Since this site is geared towards children, it would make more sense if it was more kid-friendly. One more thing to consider is the spelling is off in some of the words (perhaps because it a British-owned site) e.g. practice = practise. For students using this site in the U.S., this might be a little confusing. Overall, the direction of the website is very good. It offers a variety of games, activities, even contests, for younger children to participate in to strengthen their English skills.


Game Zone
- http://www.english-online.org.uk/games/gamezone2.htm
I was not very impressed by this site. Like Learnenglish Kids, Game Zone was not kid-friendly at all and the homepage was very cluttered. Furthermore, the games were extremely outdated. In today's high-tech world, students have high expectations when it comes to sound, graphics, etc. This game would not meet these expectations. The following is an example of a game used to practice irregular verb forms:

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What was really disappointing about this site was the fact that only half of the games actually worked. Many of the ones listed on the website said they were loading but never actually worked. Help and feedback are not offered anywhere throughout the site, as AT would suggest. As far as visual appeal goes, there really isn't any. The homepage and the games are both lacking in this area.



Resources
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/Home.html
http://thesims2.ea.com/
http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2009/05/25/weekly8-8D-World-aims-to-teach-English-language-through-gaming.html
http://sixthings.net/2009/03/26/six-computer-games-to-use-in-an-english-language-classroom/
http://www.english-online.org.uk/games/gamezone2.htm
http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids.htm








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