In this era of technology, as most of the kids, I spend most of my childhood playing various types of video games! I was not addicted to them, but I was spending at least an hour a day on playing play station or computers. I should confess that none of the games I played were educational, rather they were pure entertaining, and even sometimes a few of them like GTA series had some violent content. However, thinking back I can truly say that video games had an impact on my language skills learning tonnes of English expressions and words from them. When I was eight years old, thanks to The Sims, I learned my first English collections and words such as take a shower, make friends, have a meal and many others. Although I learned and improved my English through the entertaining video games, as a teacher-to-be, I would never integrate video games unless I become sure that they merely have educational purposes.
Many educators/scholars like James Gee and Sasha Barab believe that using Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) in EFL/ESL classes or other content-based classes, will enhance students’ engagement and motivation. However, after reading the articles and watching interviews about advantageous of video games, I am not still convinced about the effectiveness of video games as a helpful educational tool. Myself, being a professional video games player, I know that if a student sits down for playing a video game, even educational one, they can spend hours and hours, putting their other assignments away, not mentioning about other side effects. Hence, in my future practice, I think I won’t integrate DGBL in my English classes.
However, if in my future practice, the school or institution demands me to make DGBL part of my curriculum, ask me to use COTS DGBL (non-educational video games) in the classroom, then I have to choose several appropriate online or offline video games. After surfing on the internet for several hours, I came across several interactive games that can be used in the classroom.
Draw my things is the game that captured my attention. Some years ago I played the game in Facebook but never thought that it can be used for English learning.
“Draw my things” is a Massive Multiplayer Game, enabling the players to play the game with others simultaneously. In this game, the player get a word or phrase that need to draw the picture of it, and other players need to guess . More quick correct guesses, more points. While guessing the word, a communication happens among the players, telling each other to draw it more clearly, or can’t guess what the word is, try another drawing and etc. So, for English learners who want to have fun and review their vocabulary, playing draw my things can be enjoyable and also educational. However, having the experience of playing the game, I have to say it is appropriate for 16+, as some players may use insulting and offensive words. Moreover, considering the psychological effect of video games, I think that this type of games won’t probably leave any serious behavioral effects on the students, because of having repetitive nature and low graphic quality; they are not attracting students to spend ample time on them.
For contend-based classes, especially for science classes the official website of NASA for kids designed the range of interesting activities aiming to raise the awareness about the solar system and Earth.The games are nor purely educational but they can be used in the classrooms. The activities in the website are appropriate for third to five graders interested in such kind of topics. Learners should have at least A2 level of English to understand the instructions and the language focus of games are mainly on reading, writing, listening and vocabulary. With the help of this website the teacher can assess students’ language knowledge and general information about the solar system. The quality of the games is similar to above-mentioned games only having better graphical quality.
To sum up, I have to say using video games in the classroom can be fun for students and may ease the process of learning a subject or language.
If you know beneficial and better games, share them with me.