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Commentary: You're Not Studying, You're Just...

Author(s): Ravi Purushotma

Journal: Language Learning & Technology
ISSN 1094-3501

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 80;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: second language acquisition | computer-assisted language learning

As often as language teachers lecture about the importance of continual practice to adolescent learners, the dullness of homework exercises designed primarily to be educational has difficulty competing with popular media designed solely to be entertaining. Recently, numerous attempts have been made to develop "edutainment" titles that seek to merge educational goals with entertainment content; oftentimes, however, they fail to achieve either goal and fall instead into niche markets. Rather than seeing entertainment-focused media forms as adversarial to educational content, educators should instead embrace them. This commentary examines how content originally designed for entertainment purposes can be modified to provide natural and context rich language learning environments, without sacrificing its entertainment value. First, I examine a modification to the number one selling video game The Simsthat intelligently combines game data from the English edition with data from editions of other languages to form a bilingual gaming environment. This exposes learners to abundant L2 vocabulary, yet still provides enough L1 support not to detract from the game. This principle is then extended to other applications such as music videos, typing tutors, and voice-navigated games. Finally, areas of otherwise wasted time are identified, such as waiting for Web pages to load or walking to class, with suggestions of how technology can facilitate language learning during these times.
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