VIDEO GAMES AS AN EFFECTIVE MEANS FOR LEARNING ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Armenia, ID LLCE2016-262;        The CIT (Communication and Information Technology) and the Internet have radically changed the way people communicate. They have undeniably had a huge impact also on the way people learn.  While there are many computer mediated means and resources for EFLT, video games are probably one of the most influential tools to learn a foreign language. The objective of the given paper is to identify the psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic factors that make online video games a pleasant and easy instrument for learning English as a foreign language.  Even though video games may considerably improve English language skills, most teachers and parents overlook this big potential and view mainly the negative side of the phenomenon. The paper is an attempt to demonstrate the benefits of video games not as an element for school or in class teaching, but a powerful out-of-class tool for learning English. We will demonstrate on the example of a specific online multiplayer game how children (teenagers) learn and develop, while progressing through the game. Games are highly inspirational and attractive means to get acquainted with vocabulary, grammar, listening and communication skills with ease and pleasure. The paper will highlight some of the characteristics of Generation Z (post-Google generation or ‘Homo Zapiens’), who were born with various electronic devices in their hand for communication and entertainment.   According to Pelevin (2003), who has first introduced the term Homo Zapiens, this generation has grown up with technology and learns mostly through computer screens, games, icons, exploration, and shows non-linear learning behaviour. Homo Zapiens has learnt to deal with information overload by clicking and zapping. It has learned how to navigate efficiently and effectively through information, how to communicate, and how to build effectively on a network of peers. Prensky contends that though it is difficult to characterize a specific generation as it is not a homogeneous entity, it is possible to go into detail on the characteristics of the Homo Zapiens and specify what we see them doing differently from previous generations (2001). Experiencing these digital information flows, children develop an exploratory learning approach trying to give meaning to the information provided. In particular, games seem to stimulate this exploratory approach as players often start gaming without even knowing the ultimate goal of a game (Gee, 2003). Games are immersive, demand proactive participants who solve problems, and provide an environment in which they can experiment with a variety of roles. The paper will demonstrate how foreign language acquisition takes place when English is not an end in itself but rather a means of coping, succeeding and being rewarded in the game. 

Key words: video games, out-of-class learning tool, Homo Zapiens, digital information flows

Gee, James Paul.  What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Pelevin, Victor. Homo Zapiens. Penguin Books. New York, 2002. Translated by Andrew Bromfield.

Prensky, Marc. Digital Game-Based Learning. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.