Investigating Digital Game-Based Language Learning: Applications, Actors, and Issues of Access

Publikation: Bücher und AnthologienDissertationsschriftenForschung


The research presented here examines the ways the products and practices of digital game-based language learning (DGBLL) shape access to foreign language learning. Three different studies with different methodologies and foci were carried out to examine the affordances of various aspects of DGBLL. The emphasis in all three cases, two of which are empirical and one of which is a theoretical investigation, is on developing a better understanding of the affordances of DGBLL to derive implications for English Foreign Language (EFL) teacher education. In the first study, the focus is on constructing and implementing an evaluative framework to examine the pedagogical, linguistic, and ludic affordances of DGBLL tools. Analysis reveals that many dedicated DGBLL applications incorporate content, pedagogy, and game elements that are limited in their ability to reflect contemporary understandings of foreign language learning or generate motivation to pursue game-related goals. As such, they call into question existing typologies of DGBLL and emphasize the need for competent educators who can effectively align the selection of specific DGBLL tools with given language learning objectives. In order to understand the preexisting knowledge and attitudes that need to be addressed to develop such competence, the second study examines pre-service English foreign language (EFL) teachers’ beliefs and behaviors regarding DGBLL. The quantitative analysis reveals positive correlations between gameplaying and EFL skills and language learning strategies, and between gaming behaviors and beliefs about DGBLL. At the same time, low rates of gameplaying behaviors and negative correlations between prior digital media usage and attitudes towards DGBLL suggest the need for substantial theoretical and practical teacher preparation that takes into account underlying assumptions about gameplaying and foreign language learning.
The third study examines the basis of these assumptions, relying on Bourdieu’s notion of habitus to illuminate the foundation of these beliefs and his notion of linguistic capital to consider the potential impact of a non-gameplaying habitus on some language learners. Such differential acceptance of efficacious DGBLL in formal school settings may inhibit access to significant forms of capital, and requisite linguistic and digital competencies. While all three studies are limited in their scope, they hold important implications for teacher education. Given the nature of the applications analyzed, it becomes clear that, not only are particular applications appropriate for specific objectives; it must also be the role of teacher education to enhance pre-service teachers’ (PST) abilities to understand these nuances and select media accordingly. This can only take place when PSTs’ situated existing beliefs and behaviors, as illuminated by this research, are taken into account and addressed accordingly. Finally, this education must necessarily include initiatives to develop an understanding of issues of equity in access, participation, and outcomes as regards DGBLL.
VerlagUniversität Lüneburg
Anzahl der Seiten154
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 2019