Moving between virtual and real worlds: Second language learning through Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs)

  • Isara Kongmee, Rebecca Strachan, Alison Pickard, Catherine Montgomery
  • July 2011, Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • DOI: 10.1109/ceec.2011.5995817

English language learning using online gaming

What is it about?

We have shown that online gaming can create global communities that are able to provide a safe digital environment for learning new languages. Students can meet native language speakers online helping to improve their confidence in using the language and create a better appreciation of how the language is used in practice. These experiences can also be brought back into the classroom setting to further engage students in their language learning.

Why is it important?

We have undertaken a qualitative study of a small group of Thai students learning English to see how the use of digital gaming can improve their engagement and confidence in using the English language. The reason why this is a useful approach is that it is often difficult for teachers to provide access to native second language users, such as English language users for students in Thailand. The use of an avatar within the game allows students to practice their language safely and progress at their own pace, allowing them to gain confidence and provide a more personalised learning experience.


Professor Rebecca Strachan
Northumbria University

Taking part in this study has shown how students can use an online gaming environment to create their own individual learning journeys progressing through the game at their own pace and being able to draw on their own particular interests and strengths to tailor the game experience to themselves. It has also helped their understanding of more specific cultural elements such as the more gentler British approach to winning compared to a Thai approach.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Rebecca Strachan