Does gaming/games have a place in the EAP/university curriculum?

By Chris Haines

The topic for the first #EAPchat of Year 2 is with regards to gaming within the EAP curriculum. A couple of considerations have come to mind:

  • Delta Publishing put out an ELTON award-winning title in 2011 by Kyle Mawer & Graham Stanley, “Digital Play“, which provides suggestions on how to use video games and web games in the language learning classroom.
  • Many of my male students have cited playing video games for hours into the late night/wee morning as the reason why they can’t focus on study in the morning. This correlates with a study by Pew Internet Research (2003) on college student videogaming behaviour.
  • Schools, both K-12 (“Schools use video games as teaching tools“) and college/university (“How 10 Colleges Are Using Game-Based Learning Right Now“), around the world claim benefits to using video games with their students to facilitate content learning and academic skills.
  • Adam Simpson wrote a post about using games in the classroom (“Why Use Games in the Language Classroom“).
  • Crystal Rose brought an infographic on “The Gaming of Education” into the conversation.

#EAPchat transcript is here.

For everyone reading this, in the comments perhaps you could discuss:

  • Your ideas regarding the links mentioned above
  • Video games you’ve used with students
  • Other games you use in class
  • Upsides/pitfalls/skills practiced/EAP or General adaptations

Otherwise, here’s a blog challenge for you:

Write a post about a game that you use with your classes that has always been a pedagogical crowd-pleaser! Please link your post into the comments.


12 thoughts on “Does gaming/games have a place in the EAP/university curriculum?

  1. Tyson Seburn (@seburnt)

    Error identification and correction auction
    Not one really for “games” per se, I have used a type of auction common among general ESL classes, especially with regards to grammar. I put student-generated sentences/paragraphs on the board/screen, each with errors. I divide the class into teams and give them $500 to work with (real money, of course…). Teams aim to find an error, place a bet of any amount (e.g. $50), and identify it. If right, they double their bet in returns.(e.g. $100). If not an error, they pay their bet to the bank. If they choose to correct it, they can double that return (e.g. $200). If they are wrong, they lose their entire return ($100.00). The winning team has the most money at the end and gets a bonus mark or something to make it worth it in their eyes.

    Works well for any error.

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  3. Julie Moore (@lexicojules)

    I sat down yesterday evening to write a blog post about games I play in the EAP classroom. I struggled to pin down what exactly I do and when I did put ideas on the page, they looked really flat in a “you had to be there” kind of way. I don’t think I play complicated, planned sorts of games with lots of preparation and rules (which I’ve actually never liked myself!). For me, it’s more about mixing things up occasionally just to change the pace.

    That might mean adding an element of competition (between individuals or groups) or an “against-the-clock” feel to almost any kind of activity.

    It might mean adding a bit of physicality – getting students to stand up and move around (for example, to organize themselves in line in alphabetical order by name when talking about bibliographies), or bringing in real books and journals to hand around and look at/discuss.

    And for me, language analysis of any kind has always been about “playing” with words, and I try to communicate that sense of “playfulness” to my students. For example, coming up with absurd (but grammatically correct!) noun phrases (think Chomsky’s classic “colourless, green ideas sleep furiously” > “the furious sleep of colourless, green ideas”) or combinations of affixes (start with “antidisestablishmentarianism” and get students to create their own).

    1. Tyson Seburn (@seburnt)

      I, too, could not easily think of one particular game I play, especially regularly. Like you, the game-like things I tend to do work out more in the “activity’ category, without a winner/loser or points involved.

      I’ve always been wary of doing activities like you’ve suggested at the end of your comment. I tend to be more fixed on actual language use with any level below advanced. I’ve found that my students need to be told things very explicitly and if I were to have them create meaningless phrases, despite them being fun and showing a creative side to the language, I fear they would skip over the but-don’t-use-these-in-your-writing and do so.

      1. Julie Moore (@lexicojules)

        Yes, I know what you mean about the last category of word play stuff, I would only do that with the right kind of class; either quite advanced students, or one year I had a load of EFL teachers who were going on to do an MA TESOL, who were “into” language in the same way as me.

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