A recent Danish study revealed how students have learnt more English from playing computer games than they did at school. Playing computer games seems to be an effective way of supplementing the conventional teaching; when children play computer games in English, they use the language as a means of coping, not as an end in itself, as it is learnt in schools.
Playing computer games requires English skills, because that is the language that is spoken in the games, and the children improve their English Language skills while playing, but this is a potential which is often overlooked in schools. Birgitte H. Sørensen, a professor at Aalborg University’s Department of Education, Learning and Philosophy, heads the ‘Serious Games in a Global Marketplace’ research project, which is funded by the Danish Council for Strategic Research.
Sørensen says that “if we base our language teaching on this interest, there may be a lot to gain academically(…)the use of computer games in teaching is still a novelty, and many teachers do not play computer games in their spare time. That’s why it takes them a while to figure out what the games can be used for, and how much the kids actually learn from playing them.”
But it is not just the teachers who make little effort in using computer games effectively as educational tools: game developers rarely consider the teacher’s perspective when designing the games. We still have to explore technology’s full potential in schools.
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