Tuesday 8 October 2019

Using Computer Games to Improve Students' English

I’ve had a long interest in the use of computer games for English language teaching and have looked at lots of games over the years that have huge potential for language learning, from platforms like Second Life and Minecraft to more structured educational games like PowerUp and Tyto, so when I spotted Real English for Gamers, a site that sets out to help students use a variety of multi-player games to improve their English, I was really fascinated.

What it’s about
Real English for Gamers isn’t a game but it is at the most basic level, a YouTube channel full of videos of game in game interaction between players that have been turned into learning resources.

The creators of the channel have taken clips of world famous gamers playing the games, transcribed them, analysed the vocabulary and interaction between the players and turned them into instructional videos that help students to learn English with the aim of enabling them to play their favourite games in English.

This is a great idea in many ways as so many students find playing video games so engaging and to combine this enthusiasm for the games with the chance to interact with other speakers of English can really be a boost for their motivation.

How to use it
The Real English for Gamers YouTube channel has around 130 videos at time of writing and these are mostly clips from multiplayer games. Their website helps to structure this collection of videos and make it more accessible. Some of the best places to start are:
  • The Basics: This section has a collection of useful language for gamers that they can use whilst playing the games.  This includes a section on questions they can ask their gaming partner during the game, common game related vocabulary and tips for how to avoid misunderstandings during the game.
  • Practice Listening: This section helps students to deal with fast authentic speech by using short video clips with video script annotation.
  • The Gamers: This section has information about each of the celebrity gamers featured in the video clips.
  • The Games: This section has information about each of the games featured in the clips.

The site is being regularly updated and apart form watching and listening to the videos, students can also leave comments and chat with other users using the comments feature in the YouTube channel.

Real English for Gamers is an interesting concept and a great resource to recommend to students who are interested in games or as a source of learning material for homework or the classroom. It is of course a good idea to select videos that you feel are age and culturally appropriate for your students. Due to the nature of the content, some games will have language related to violence in them and others may have some bad language, so you’ll need to decide whether your students are mature enough to deal with these elements.

For students who are already keen on games this could be a tool to help them to make the shift to playing them in English and for students who are interested in games the content could form the basis of some motivating lessons that exploit authentic materials.

I hope you enjoy Real English for Gamers and that your students find it useful.
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Nik Peachey