Language Learning in the Digital Game Minecraft: A Task-based Learning Study of Japanese EFL Learners (74391)

Session Information: Task-based Learning
Session Chair: Peter Gobel

Saturday, 11 November 2023 14:15
Session: Session 3
Room: Sri Sachanalai
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 7 (Asia/Bangkok)

As online language learning expands, practitioners are increasingly exploring the potential of digital games as tools for second language learning. This presentation will present case study research incorporating mixed methods and drawing on the social constructivist conception of SLA to investigate the task-based interaction of EFL learners in the commercial digital game Minecraft. This study investigated an under-researched group, namely, beginner and lower intermediate-level Japanese university English language learners. The written chat discourse elicited when playing this game in English was analyzed with the ultimate goal of establishing how vocabulary learning and fluency development was facilitated through play and interaction. Additional research foci included gaining a greater understanding of gender differences in game-based learning in the Japanese context and how the perceptions of games as a tool for learning developed during the research. Six native Japanese undergraduate students, four males and two females, participated in weekly gaming sessions over one semester. Eleven sessions were conducted, including an information session, two orientation sessions, seven gaming sessions, and one post-gaming session. Within the seven gaming sessions, the students interacted in written English using Minecraft's in-game chat function in order to complete tasks. The presentation will show that in a positive finding, discourse analysis and the communication environment provided by the game and the tasks elicited TL use that enabled students to engage in meaningful social interaction involving collaboration. Data showed evidence of constructs identified in the social constructivist account of SLA. The presentation will also highlight how participants consistently came to a shared understanding regarding the tasks (achieve intersubjectivity) and experienced zones of proximal development (ZPD) where they assisted each other during learning, overcoming issues involving usage and unknown TL vocabulary. The presentation will conclude with a discussion on how these positive findings indicate the operation of learner autonomy and highlight the feasibility of a move away from the teacher-dominated forms of instruction that prevail in many language classrooms.


Abstract Summary
This presentation presents case study research incorporating mixed methods and drawing on the social constructivist conception of SLA to investigate the task-based interaction of EFL learners in the commercial digital game Minecraft. This study investigated beginner and lower intermediate-level Japanese university English language learners. The written chat discourse elicited by playing Minecraft in English was analyzed to establish how vocabulary learning and fluency development was facilitated through play and interaction. The presentation will show that in a positive finding, discourse analysis and the communication environment provided by the game and the tasks elicited TL use that enabled students to engage in meaningful social interaction involving collaboration. Data showed evidence of constructs identified in the social constructivist account of SLA. The presentation will also highlight how participants consistently came to a shared understanding regarding the tasks (achieve intersubjectivity) and experienced zones of ZPD.

Authors:
Jeremy White, Ritsumeikan University, Japan


About the Presenter(s)
Professor Jeremy White is a University Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer at Ritsumeikan University in Japan

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