Using Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) to Support Second Language Learning: Action Research in the Real and Virtual World

Abstract

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) create large virtual communities. Online gaming shows potential not just for entertaining, but also for education. The aim of this research project is to investigate the use of commercial MMORPGs to support second language teaching. MMORPGs offer a digital safe space in which students can communicate by using their target language with global players. This qualitative research based on ethnography and action research investigates the students’ experiences of language learning and performing while they play in the MMORPGs. Research was conducted in both the ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ worlds. In the real world the researcher observes the interaction with the MMORPGs by the students through actual discussion, and screen video captures while they are playing. In the virtual world, the researcher takes on the role of a character in the MMORPG enabling the researcher to get an inside point of view of the students and their own MMORPG characters. This latter approach also uses action research to allow the researcher to provide anonymous/private support to the students including in-game instruction, confidence building, and some support of language issues in a safe and friendly way. Using action research with MMORPGs in the real world facilitates a number of opportunities for learning and teaching including opportunities to practice language and individual and group experiences of communicating with other native/ second language speakers for the students. The researcher can also develop tutorial exercises and discussion for teaching plans based on the students’ experiences with the MMORPGs. The results from this research study demonstrate that MMORPGs offer a safe, fun, informal and effective learning space for supporting language teaching. Furthermore the use of MMORPGs help the students’ confidence in using their second language and provide additional benefits such as a better understanding of the culture and use of language in different contexts.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Kongmee2011UsingMM, title={Using Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) to Support Second Language Learning: Action Research in the Real and Virtual World}, author={Isara Kongmee and Rebecca Strachan and Catherine Montgomery and Alison Pickard}, year={2011} }