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Applying Gamification into Foreign Language Teaching

Written by Ilona Ellonen

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WHAT IS GAMIFICATION?

Gamification is a relatively new pedagogical teaching strategy that has developed with the fast technological improvements and new online teaching tools. We are talking about a game-based teaching and learning method that includes different traditional and online game elements in the existing educational activities. However, the idea of gamification is not only about adding a game of two to your lesson plan. In fact, It’s about turning the whole learning process into a game and making your classroom or language lab the game environment:

WHY IS IT EFFECTIVE?

According to Michos (2017), playing a game and learning a language share similar elements, because they are both goal-oriented activities that include processes such as mastering the rules and developing skills to reach a certain goal. This actually makes the two quite easily combinable, so applying a gamified teaching method is not as laborious as it may first sound.

The main advantage and value that gamification adds to foreign language learning is, in short, the element of FUN. Gamification simply makes learning more fun because nobody can deny the fact that everyone loves games. Therefore, gamification is an extremely effective way of motivating your students and encouraging them to participate and do their best in every class. 

Here you can find a list of advantages that gamification brings when it is incorporated in foreign language teaching. This list has been created by Michos (2017), who has focused her research specifically on gamification and foreign language teaching:

Gamification…

  • modifies the mood within the classroom; 
  • increases learners’ feeling of happiness; 
  • provides breaks from learner’s fatigue; 
  • increases motivation and improve attention; 
  • increases student’s engagement in the classroom activities;
  • stimulates a goal oriented activity; 
  • makes learning fun.

CONVINCED YET?

HERE ARE SOME PRACTICAL TIPS

TOWARDS GAMIFICATION:

  • Design gamified exercises around your teaching objectives

To fully benefit from the gamified exercises and experiences, always create them with your teaching objectives in mind. Each game should always serve a purpose. What do you want your students to learn in the outcome? Sanako’s language teaching software Reactored includes gamified and ready-made lessons that can be easily customized according to your teaching objectives, and moreover, it saves a lot of your time in terms of creating exercises.

  • Create an awarding system and track students’ points

Gamification adds a whole other level of motivation and excitement to every task when you have created an awarding system to track students’ points. Doing well in a task means scoring points and moving up in the game. Consequently, this keeps your students focused and maximizes their interaction with the target language.

  • Involve students in the brainstorming process and address their individual needs

Applying gamification to your teaching requires some creativity and open-mindedness. However, if you feel like running out of inspiration, involve your students in the brainstorming. They have plenty of ideas when it comes to games, because that’s what they love to spend their freetime on. Furthermore, having personalized tasks is important in order to address students’ individual needs, skills, areas of interest etc. Sanako’s Reactored allows students to choose their own learning style with its personalized approaching mechanism.

(Tips inspired by FluentU, General Educator Blog)

By Ilona Ellonen – Student Language Ambassador

If you are keen to learn more about technology and foreign language teaching, you may also find this post interesting!

References:

Michos, M. 2017. Gamification in Foreing Languages – Do you Kahoot? Modern Technologies in Language Learning.

Verner, S. FluentU. Be a Top Scoring Teacher with Language Learning Gamification.

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