Gamification in English language teaching

XII Международный конкурс научно-исследовательских и творческих работ учащихся
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Gamification in English language teaching

Горлова А.В. 1
1МБОУ гимназия "Пущино"
Макарова О.В. 1
1МБОУ гимназия "Пущино"
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It's no secret that learning a foreign language is sometimes difficult and incomprehensible. Many people give up studying as soon as they start it. Most often, this is due to the fact that a person cannot find the perfect way to learn. People think that studying is very dull, wearisome and dreary. But the attitude to learning a language can change dramatically if you approach this process outside the box.

Gamification — the use of techniques inherent in games (competitions, fun, points for achievements, etc.) in ordinary processes — business, learning English, work. Scientists argue about the effectiveness and benefits of gamification in learning, but most agree that gamification is one of the best innovative ways to learn languages.

Typical school activities become boring for modern students, and they choose entertainment when choosing between some kind of entertainment and learning. Gamification can help teachers keep children interested while learning, and help students take a different view of learning a foreign language.

The purpose of this work is to offer a few games that will help in learning a foreign language, will be interesting and motivating for students, and will also help teachers in teaching children at schools.

This goal is implemented in the following tasks:

to reveal the concept of gamification;

to identify the difference between gaming and gamification;

to explore the most effective gamification methods;

to offer a few games that will help in learning a foreign language.

The object of the study is the process of teaching English in junior and middle schools.

The subject of the study is the offering a few games based on the studied researches.

In accordance with this, we have formulated the hypothesis of this study: gamification is one of the most interesting and effective way to learn a language.

In our work, the following research methods were used:

a) the study and analysis of modern native and foreign

sources on the topic of the study;

b) comparison and systematization of the obtained data;

c) experiment.

Practical significance: based on the studied data, to offer a few games that will be used in schools to teach children foreign languages.

Chapter 1: What is gamification?

What is our life? The game!

One of the problems of any studying is its infinity. There is no limit to perfection. Motivation quickly falls when the result is not obvious, there is no reward, a lot of resources are spent, and the goals are abstract. This is where the gamification technique comes to the rescue.

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. It can also be defined as a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements.[1]

The game raises the interest and motivation of the student, sets goals for the achievement of which the student receives a reward, helps to avoid boredom and routine.

The principle of gamification is very simple: when we enjoy a process, we are fully involved in it. Our body requires us not to stop practicing. A habit is developed, which can be very difficult to resist. So why not use it in the process of learning English?

Education is a big part of our lives. At the age of seven, we go to school, then to college or university, then to work, where we still continue to study. And it would be nice if the whole “journey” was accompanied by something that could make our lives a little easier Of course, gamification is not a pill for all diseases. But if the words you need to learn are not remembered for more than 2 hours, it may be worth trying another way of learning.

this means that gamification can simplify some aspects of our lives, such as learning something new.

Game or gamification?

Distance learning specialists in the United States and Europe strictly differentiate between two similar concepts. According to them, gamification adds game mechanics to the boring process.

The process of the game is aimed at meeting any needs in real time. You do not really think about the result and concentrate only on the process. One of the most successful and best-selling computer game series in history is the Sims. When you are playing in this game you care about making your characters, buildings. You enjoy the process of playing, not the result.

When we are talking about the gamification we are still talking about the process of studying.

Learning something involves getting a result in the end. When you are studying logarithms on math lessons, you are preparing for exams. The result of this process will be a good mark on the exam.

Gamification should not completely replace the learning process. It should help children to be more interested in the learning process.

But how to use gamification correctly, so that the lesson remains a lesson?

Do not get carried away. Do not forget that children should not only play the game, but also get knowledge - the result that you need.

Do not complicate it. No need to invent a new Monopoly. A simple but interesting game will be enough.

Check it out. After learning something using gamification, check the result. If the goal is achieved and the knowledge is well established, this method is successful. If not, think about what went wrong.

Chapter 2: Gamification in learning English language.

2.1 Motivation.

Eugen Eşanu in his work “Gamification: Motivation Model. The broken way of carrot and stick” [4] described two experiments that in many ways gave us an understanding of what a motivation is.

The first experiment was done by Harry F. Harlow, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin (1940s). He placed the monkeys in an enclosed space and let them solve the puzzle. After a while, he saw that the animals could easily solve the puzzle without any positive reinforcement. No one taught them how to do it. Harlow came to the conclusion that the monkeys solved the puzzle because they were enjoying the process.

The second experiment was done by Edward Deci (professor of Psychology and professor of Social Science at the University of Rochester, director of the Human Motivation Program) in 1969. He made something similar but with people. Deci gathered a group of people, male and female, and divided them into two equal groups. He gave them Soma puzzle cube (using pieces of this cube you can create different intricate figures). During three days of experiments, one-hour sessions, Deci asked people to play with the puzzles.

Group A received no reward for what they did on the 1st and 3rd days, but he gave them a reward for extra effort on the 2nd day (money). Group B received no rewards on all three days. And Deci found that Group B was playing a little bit longer with the puzzles on the 3rd day in comparison with Group A.

Edward Deci concluded that when money is used as an external reward for some activity, the subjects lose the interest in the activity.

This type of motivation has a short-term effect, like a cup of coffee. This can cause addiction and harm of long-term motivation. After each goal achieved, our brains ask for more and more rewards. Therefore, it is not the best option to engage the child in learning by promising a reward at the end.

When you ask a kid why he plays this game, you will probably hear: " Because it's fun!". And this is the biggest problem of adults: putting too much accent on rewards and achievements and not paying attention to the process.

We are more successful in the school subject or field of activity that we really like than in those that we do not like with for various reasons. And in this way gamification is a really difficult way of learning. You need to care about the process, that will be interesting and motivating for students, and the results. But when you will find a perfect balance between process and results, studying will be a piece of cake.

What about adults? How to increase their interest in learning a language?

Sometimes, gamification is not enough. Adults are used to take almost everything seriously. But there are also things that can still entertain them.

Movies and serials in a foreign language. It can help to learn this language better. And when you start to understand what the characters are talking about, it means that the motivation increases.

Phone apps. There are lots of apps that can help you to learn language.

2.2 Examples of games for students.

Word race.

This is a great game for fixing the words you learned in the last lesson. Rules of the game: students are divided into two teams. The board is divided into two halves and the theme of the contest is indicated at the top. Then students start writing down one word at a time according to the topic. One word is one point. The team that has written more words on the board in the allotted time wins.

Simon says.

A very popular game in the United States among younger students.

Rules of the game: one person plays the role of Simon and faces the contestants. Then Simon says a sentence in English, and the others complete the tasks. For example: Simon says “Put your hand on the left shoulder of your classmate”. To catch the players, sometimes you should miss the phrase "Simon says". In this case, the person who performs the action is out of the game. The last remaining player wins.

Hot Seat.

This game helps you to develop your English-speaking skills and phonetics.

Rules of the game: students are divided into two teams, with one sitting facing the class and with his back to the blackboard. A group of words for each team is written on the board. Then, one by one, the students sit in front of the student on the Hot Seat and try to help him guess the word on the board. You can describe a word and suggest synonyms, but you can not name it or draw it on a paper. There is a time limit for each student. The winner is the team that first guessed all the words on the board.

What is my problem?

The game helps you to expand your vocabulary and consolidate your vocabulary.

Rules of the game: various life problems are written on the stickers, and then the leaves are randomly pasted on the backs of the students. Next, the students communicate and ask each other where to turn and what I need to do to get rid of this problem. But at the same time, your partner should not name the problem itself. The student needs to guess, based on the tips, exactly what his problem is written on the back. This can be any fictional problem with health, work, family, etc.


A great game aimed at teamwork. It is suitable for repeating tenses, phrases, honing reading skills, etc.

The Rules of the game: 3-5 sentences are written on the paper in different colors, then the sheet is cut to separate all the phrases on it. The words are shuffled and put together in a header. The class is divided into 2-3 teams and each team collects proposals in turn. The winner is the team that quickly puts all the words in the correct order to get the original sentences.

Chapter 3: Game is on!

3.1 Practical research.

Goal: test the knowledge gained in the course of work.

Tasks: conduct a lesson in one of the school classes using gamification techniques. At the end of the lesson check the assimilation of knowledge.


MBOU gymnasium "Pushchino" (of the town of Pushchino (Moscow region)).

Class: 5th “V”

Number of students: group “A” – 8 students, group “B” – 8 students

The game: “Hot seat”

Topic of the game: The weather


I divided 16 students into 2 groups – group “A” and group “B”. In group “A” I used gamification technique for learning new words, and group “B” – I did not.

In the group “A”:

The students have been playing in the “Hot seat” game for 20 min. I divided 8 students into 2 equal groups (4 children in each group). Two students (one from each group) sat with their backs to the board and faced their team. They were the captains of their teams. I wrote five words related to the weather on the board which the team should have to explain to their captains. The children were enthusiastic about the process and when the game was over they asked me to play again.

Then I gave the students a test with these words. The children's task was to translate these words from English to Russian. All students from the group “A” successfully completed the test.

In the group “B”:

I gave the same words as in group “A” to 8 students. I did not use gamification and asked the students to learn these words by heart. They also had 20 min. When their time was up I gave them the same test. The students from the group “B” did not enjoy the process of learning and made more mistakes than students from the group “A”.

3.2 Description and analysis of the research results.

Based on the results of a practical experiment we can see that gamification affects the learning process. The children who learned with gamification technique memorized the words better and quicker (group “A”) than the students who learned them by heart (group “B”). Students from the group “A” found the learning process fun and interesting, while students from the group “B” called the task boring.

Chapter 4: Conclusion.

The gamification process is not about turning products into games. Rather, it is a mechanism by which aspects of games and their use in non-game products or services are simulated.

The integration of fun elements that affects human emotions and motivation, students get more enjoyable experience.

Using gamification can be especially useful when students do not want to complete them.

Gamification can really help with children's learning. The more students are engaged in the learning process the better they learn new material.

A person learns throughout life, but not always this process is simple. Gamification can also teach a person to solve complex learning tasks by means of the game.

By adding a fun factor, you can encourage and stimulate the student by masking or even deleting the negative emotions associated with these tasks.

Perhaps gamification will soon be able to replace some aspects of children's learning. But it is not always possible to present everything to the child from the game side. We must not forget that the learning process should remain pleasant for the child. Having discouraged the desire to learn in childhood, it will be even more difficult for the child in the future.

As a result of our research, the hypothesis was confirmed: gamification is one of the most interesting and effective way to learn a foreign language.

List of used literature:

Michael Sailer & Lisa Homner “The Gamification of Learning: a Meta-analysis”

Rodrigo Smiderle, Sandro José Rigo, Leonardo B. Marques, Jorge Arthur Peçanha de Miranda Coelho and Patricia A. Jaques “The impact of gamification on students’ earning, engagement and behavior based on their personality traits”

Eugen Eşanu “Gamification: Motivation Model. The broken way of carrot and stick”.

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