Nearly a Quarter of ESL Educators Teach Using Computer Games

24% of ESL (English as a Second Language) educators use computer games to enhance their lessons, according to a new study.

Research by Kaplan International Colleges revealed that 24% of surveyed ESL teachers use computer games during class to help students improve their understanding of the English language.

Kaplan discovered that The Sims was the most popular game used by ESL teachers with 14% stating that they used the best-selling simulation game, while 11% opted for Sim City and 8% favoured Second Life.

The Sims allows players to create a virtual family of characters called Sims, whom they then guide through everyday challenges. However, Sims do not speak but instead interact through gestures and a nonsense language called Simlish so how can they help people teach English?

Players are exposed to a wide-range of written language in the instructions, control and status bar labels. Also, product descriptions in virtual catalogues used for shopping are ideal for lesson plans based on vocabulary.

Jordan Shapiro, author of FREEPLAY: A Video Game Guide to Maximum Euphoric Bliss, said: “The market is quickly filling with tons of short-form games that powerfully and effectively supplement core curricula at all stages of education.

“I've seen first-hand how games can engage students with informative and adaptive feedback that motivates in ways an old fashioned workbook just never could. In the hands of great teachers, games like The Sims can integrate traditionally disparate subjects using grounded cross-disciplinary thinking.”

Kaplan surveyed more than 500 ESL teachers from 40 countries to discover what tools they use to enhance their lessons. The results of Kaplan’s “How to Teach English” survey have been published as an infographic. The infographic page has quotes covering all aspects of the research.

Other survey results include:

  • 86% of ESL Teachers have used music in class: The Beatles being the most popular band (used by 40% of those surveyed).
  • 81% have used English-speaking celebrities to engage students: Barack Obama being the most popular.
  • 76% have used Movies in class: The Harry Potter series being the most popular.
  • 75% have used Newspapers in class: The New York Times being the most popular.
  • 60% have used TV shows in class: Mr Bean being the most popular.
  • 34% have used the Radio in class: The BBC World Service being the most popular.
  • 33% have used Comics in class: Spider-Man being the most popular.

Kaplan surveyed 503 ESL teachers from: the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Russia, India, South Korea, Turkey, Georgia, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Greece, Vietnam, Spain, Cuba, France, Taiwan, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Mexico, Iran, Ukraine, Jamaica, Malaysia, Romania, Poland, Argentina, Czech Republic, Latvia,

In a previous study conducted in 2012, Kaplan found that The Sims was the top computer game for helping people learn English outside of the classroom with 56% of those surveyed claiming that playing video games enhanced their language skills.

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