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Moving between virtual and real worlds: Second language learning through Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs)

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4 Author(s)
Kongmee, I. ; Sch. of Comput., Eng. & Inf. Sci., Northumbria Univ., Newcastle upon Tyne, UK ; Strachan, R. ; Pickard, A. ; Montgomery, C.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) bring players together in a large virtual community. This type of online gaming can serve many purposes such as entertainment, social interaction, information exchange and education and is now an integral part of many people's lives particularly the younger generation. This research study investigates the use of openly available MMORPGs to supplement second language teaching for higher education students. MMORPGs provide informal virtual worlds in which students can communicate in their second language with people from across the globe. The research approach combines ethnography and action research in the virtual and real worlds. In the real world the researcher observes the interaction with the MMORPGs by the students both through their informal discussion in the classroom and through screen video captures of their game play in the MMORPG. In addition the researcher takes on the role of a character within the MMORPG allowing for observation inside the virtual world from the viewpoint of another game character. Through action research, the researcher observes, plans and then interacts with the students' MMORPG characters within the game. This enables the researcher to provide anonymous but tailored support to the students including advice on the game play, a confidence boost where needed, a friendly face where needed and some support around language issues. In the real world, action research is also used to provide tutorial exercises and discussions based on the students' experiences with the MMORPG, facilitating further enhancement opportunities for their language development. This paper concludes that MMORPGs provide a safe, relaxed and engaging environment in which students can practice and improve their language skills.

Published in:

Computer Science and Electronic Engineering Conference (CEEC), 2011 3rd

Date of Conference:

13-14 July 2011