Facebook games and English language learners

What student-teachers say

Entisar Elsherif, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, & Fatma Dreid, University of Tripoli


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Abstract

Literature shows that games provide great opportunities for language learners to learn not only vocabulary but also to practice various skills. Games make language learning less boring and engaging. Given the fact that most of our students have Facebook accounts and play Facebook games, we decided to conduct a study that explores the effects of games on learning the English language.

This study was conducted in a public institution that prepared Libyan students to become English language teachers. Students were required to play Facebook games for two weeks and then present their experience through oral presentations and reflective journals. Our objective was not only to investigate whether Facebook games help language learners but also how our students, as future teachers, evaluate those games’ effectiveness in language learning.

A case study approach was chosen due to the nature of the research questions. Participants included Libyan student-teachers at a Faculty of Education. Data was collected through students’ presentations, students’ reflective journals, and interviews. Students were asked to report the type of difficulties they encountered while playing, the type of vocabulary they noticed, what they learned while they were playing, and whether the games they played were suitable to be used with English learners.

Data indicated that most of the student-teachers found playing Facebook games to be beneficial for language learners and were able to decide which game to choose. Data also revealed that games are the best source for learning vocabulary but they also might be used to develop learners’ reading and writing skills. However, a number of students thought that Facebook games were not a suitable type of games for learning and chose their own games.

Therefore, this digital poster presentation will show the results of a study that explored the use of Facebook games in language learning. The poster will briefly discuss the methodology and then will focus on the results of the study. This study might be of interest to English language teachers and adult language learners as well as Facebook game players.

Presenters
Mrs. Entisar Elsherif

Indiana University of Pennsylvania
e.elsherif66@yahoo.com

Fatma Dreid

University of Tripoli
fatmadreid@yahoo.com

8 thoughts on “Facebook games and English language learners”

  1. Thank you for your presentation! It reminded me of the Games2Teach project. I don’t know if you are familiar with it? It has a wealth of resources around integrating games in language classrooms. I thought of it when I read that you asked your students to prepare a report/presentation about the games after having played them. http://games2teach.wordpress.com/about/

  2. Great presentation! Some of your English-language-teachter-students commented on the potential of facebook games to learn as a group and make learning a social experience. Did your students seek out to other students or other players, i.e. did they engage with other players?
    You might be interested in this article: Reinhardt, J. & Zander, V. (2011). Social networking in an intensive English program classroom: Insights from language socialization. CALICO Journal 28/2, 326-344.

    1. Yes Kristin, they did. We asked them to play in groups to engage them in the games and to help them reflect on playing as a group.
      Thanks for the article. I really appreciate it.

  3. First of all, thank you for this study and presentation.
    I totally agree on the idea that social networking sites and especially Facebook take a lot of personal time of not only our students who are considered to be mostly digital natives, but also time of ours who are rather digital immigrants. Because of these reasons, it poses a great potential as a tool to be used in classrooms to make our students more motivated and the activities more meaningful and real-life. However, I have always this concern whenever I am planning to use a digital tool that is already existing in learners’ life to enjoy themselves and their free time. My concern is that students might think Facebook or similar tools are there for entertainment purposes and they do things on these platforms as part of their private lives. Instead, when we, teachers, want to integrate this kind of tools and expect our students to do rather academic tasks such as discussions, presentations, writing essays and debates which students do not normally do in their personal lives.
    At this point, do you think whether we can be sure our learners really enjoy this kind of integration or not. Secondly, could it be a possibility for some learners to negatively react to this sort integration especially in the long run?
    Thank you again for your study and sharing it here with this well-prepared presentation.

    Mustafa Polat, SLAT-University of Arizona

    1. Thanks for this great response Mustafa.
      In our project, some students stated that they didn’t enjoy playing the games just because they knew every word or because they found the games boring. However, most of the students thought that using Facebook games as a language learning tool was beneficial. Since we are integrating Facebook games for another semester, we’ll make sure to ask this question in the interviews.
      I can’t think of any negativity. Do you mean students might get addicted? Or do you mean games might have negative effects on their learning skills and ability?

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