Distributed Language Learning in a World of Warcraft (WoW) Centered Course

30 MINUTES OF SYNCHRONOUS CHAT WILL BEGIN AT 12:30PM (MST) THURSDAY OCT. 6 USING THE EMBEDDED TLK.IO WIDGET ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE SCREEN (PLEASE LOOK FOR THE BLUE BAR TITLED L2DLAZCALL2016).

Kristi Newgarden, University of Connecticut

Click the video frame above to view the presentation. To ask the presenters a question about their presentation, please add a comment at the bottom of this page between October 3 and October 8. Presenters will check for and reply to questions each symposium day.

Abstract

This mixed media presentation will provide viewers with an overview of findings from research on second language learning by participants in a course designed around play of a multiplayer online role-playing game (MORPG). The theoretical framework, which draws from Ecological Psychology, Dialogical and Distributed (EDD) views of language (Newgarden & Zheng, 2016; Zheng & Newgarden, 2016; Newgarden, Zheng & Liu, 2015), will be introduced through discussion of methods, analysis and interpretation of results. In this study, the dialogical system (Steffensen, 2012) of a World of Warcraft (WoW) gameplay group, comprised of two adult native English speakers and three adult English as a second language (L2) learners, became more coordinated over a semester of playing WoW together in a game-centered course.

Multimodal analysis of three episodes of gameplay recorded over ten weeks revealed that by engaging in recurrent languaging activities via Skype conference call and embodied by WoW avatars, players became more efficient at planning moves and completing more challenging quests. As they probed the affordances of dialogical arrays (Hodges 2009; 2014), players’ co-agency and co-actions meshed as a distributed cognitive system (Hodges, 2014), which balanced the values of facilitating gameplay, making meaning, taking care of others and having fun.

Applying the Linguistic Style Match metric (Gonzales et al., 2010), alignment of players’ spoken language within and across gameplay episodes was calculated and found to have been higher in episodes of play in which interactions were more smoothly coordinated. This finding lends support to Fusaroli & Tylen’s (2012) argument that a dynamical framework can be applied in understanding how in situations of social coordination, global linguistic patterns emerge and stabilize through a process of local reciprocal linguistic alignment.

This study also describes how designed features of a game-centered course, including guided discussion and comparative reflection on WoW culture and social values, afforded conversational ease, development of a class community, sociocultural attunement, and for L2 learners in particular, participation in multiple L2 communities of practice.

References

Fusaroli, R. and Tylen, K. (2012). Carving language for social coordination. Interaction Studies, 13:1, 103-124.

Gonzales, L., Hancock, J. and Pennebaker, J. (2010). Language style matching as a predictor of social dynamics in small groups. Communication Research, 37(1), 3-19.

Hodges, B. H. (2009). Ecological pragmatics: values, dialogical arrays, complexity and
caring. Pragmatics & Cognition, 17 (3), 628–652.

Hodges, B. H. (2014). Righting language: a view from ecological psychology. Language
Sciences, 41, 93-103.

Newgarden, K. Zheng, D.P. (2016). Recurrent languaging activities in World of Warcraft: Skilled linguistic action meets CEFR descriptors. ReCALL (Special Issue on Multimodal Environments), 28(03): 274-304.

Newgarden, K., Zheng, D.P., & Liu, M. (2015). An eco-dialogical study of second language learners’ world of warcraft (WoW) gameplay. Language Sciences, 48, 22–41.

Steffensen, S. (2012). Care and conversing in dialogical systems. Language Sciences, 34, 513-531.

Zheng, D.P., Newgarden, K. (2016). Ecological, dialogical and distributed language approaches to online games and virtual environments. In S. L. Thorne & S. May (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education, vol 9: Language, education and technology (3rd edition). Boston: Springer.

Presenters
Kristi Newgarden

University of Connecticut

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a hybrid symposium on research and practice

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