Video games are generally regarded as leisure activities, but they can also be pedagogical tools for language learning. They can bring many benefits, especially for students with SLDs.
Video games are generally seen as hobbies that kids and young people like. There are a wide variety of games and most of them show diverse realities and fictional worlds, so they serve as an escape for users. All these characteristics make video games seem very unrealistic and not suited for pedagogical objectives. However, they can also be very useful to engage students in language classes as they offer many benefits.
Video games in language class
Students have become more and more technology savvy and traditional methods of teaching don’t engage them anymore as they are not adapted to the current global context. Teachers are trying new tools and activities to modernize learning methods, such as video games, and engage pupils in class while meeting learning objectives in language lessons. Video games can help to improve vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in many ways.
Video games in English immerse students in a reality where they encounter many unfamiliar words, but they can figure their meaning out thanks to the context and the images shown. They will listen to them, learn how to pronounce them and associate them with an image. Therefore, they will unconsciously learn these words that they will use throughout the whole story.
Subtitles are usually available in dialogue-heavy games. They encourage players to read faster and thanks to them they also become more familiar with the language’s sentence structure. They can also practice pronunciation through shadowing, which means that they can repeat what they hear in the dialogues. Other games require interaction among players, which also helps students to improve their speaking skills.
Benefits for students with Specific Learning Disorders
Video games are tools that can be extremely beneficial in involving students with Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) in class. They have difficulties regarding memorization, organization, time management and attention. This can specifically affect the acquisition of speaking, reading, writing and listening skills. Therefore, they need adapted materials to develop those competencies as the rest of their classmates.
Due to the difficulties people with SLDs face, they are unmotivated and may lack self-esteem. Video games can increase their motivation and engagement as they are fun and they usually come with a reward system — trophies, levels, items, etc. — which makes them particularly suitable for learning. Games also train students’ focus time as they can assist students experiencing attention problems.
Memorization skills are also trained through games thanks to active participation in the activities which help students with SLDs remember vocabulary better. Video games also encourage interaction among pupils which can boost collaboration among classmates and allow them to combine listening and speaking skills. It is done in a fun context where students are more relaxed and therefore, their learning process is more fruitful.
In conclusion, video games offer many benefits for students and they can be great tools to improve language teaching methods. Would you like to create your own video games? Enrol in the D-ESL online course and learn all about tools, strategies and programs to design language learning games.
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