Sometimes games may appear as an unconventional way of making the teaching-learning process more interactive and memorable, but when regarded as the opposite of traditional teaching techniques, they may look as the right tool to draw students` attention. So, counting on the playful dimension of human nature, educational games can provide besides great chances of enhancing the curiosity of those learners that are not concerned at all of their educational evolution, also a positive impact on learners’ attitude towards collaborative activities and group interaction.
Therefore, since learning by playing is an integrative part of life and language learning approaches seek to integrate many real life situations appropriate for learning contexts, then game integration in the educational field of foreign languages must come as a natural process. Moreover, given the pedagogical value of educational games, teachers must take advantage of their ludic potential and increase the number of learning through play instances in order to enhance language learners’ motivation and enable them to find the learning process useful and relevant to their interests.
Nowadays, computer games illustrate the image of modern playing under the impact of technology development since children from an early age love playing any type of electronic games, either using mobile devices, computers, or consoles. That is why the same notion of entertainment can be introduced in classrooms providing the easiest way of learning English language through game exposure. The use of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) for English acquisition provides new different ways of using computer technology that contribute to a change of learning perspective on behalf of contemporary students. Therefore, students favor this type of learning activated by the use of electronic devices because their interactive dimension eases the learning process and makes it much more effective.
Several studies have acknowledged the effectiveness of CALL implications in the field of foreign languages, and the benefits of a large variety of computer-based activities that take advantage of the practical potentials of technological teaching aids (Warschauer, 1996; Chapelle, 2003). It is interesting to mention the change of attitude that students manifest when computer applications are incorporated in the English class practices. Either, the activities include the traditional drill-and-practice programmes, or the use of more evolved digital game-based language learning which make use of virtual learning platforms, the learners have the same enthusiasm probably activated by that playful sense of using computers for entertainment.
A continuous integration of various educational tools causes effective language development among learners of all ages since it facilitates innovative possibilities of teaching English vocabulary and grammar, two of the most demanding aspects of language learning. Most of the time teachers consider that their English learners have to improve their vocabulary in order to have successful conversations or great writing assignments, therefore, they struggle to find proper effective ways for language development in a shorter time. However, the situation is similar with grammar teaching as teachers usually try to find more interactive ways of explaining grammar structures in order to make their students change their opinion about learning grammar.
Given the contemporary tendencies and the interests of nowadays learners, CALL programmes and electronic games for educational purposes seem to provide one of the most efficient ways of empowering grammar practice and vocabulary acquisition, too. Therefore, English teachers may consider more often the assimilation of a large collection of computer-based activities in their teaching routine while including and making use of the technological supplies put at disposal in their school.
Considering the existence of a minimum number of modern technological tools (an overhead projector connected to a computer and a computer lab with Internet access) in a school, drill and practice activities can be a good choice to easily enable the practice of English language. Devised in such a way to offer an interactive opportunity for language practice whereas having an immediate result, “the main aim of Drill and Practice is to review the previous background knowledge, and to assist the learners to master separate language skills” (Torut, 1999: 7).
Either supported by minimal graphic design, or by videos and animations, drill and practice exercises along with games based on the same practice routine prove their effectiveness most of the time. Moreover, students cannot be distracted by the virtual worlds as in the case of massively multiplayer online role-playing games which represent one of the most complex type of digital games (Mawer and Stanley, 2008). Learners are more focused on the use of certain grammar structures while counting the number of correct answers because they do not have to pay attention to game strategies, different events (as in the case of adventure games), and many graphics details settings that influence their concern for accurate use of language.
Using computer-based activities with lower-intermediate learners is one of the best choices for grammar practice because most of the English lower-level students feel quite intimidated by the complexity of grammar rules and by special instances of using different structures. Thus, providing them a challenging manner of practising grammar with the help of a ‘friendly’ computer, students feel more comfortable and dare to type their answers, while being much more concerned about the written form of the words than when usually writing them in their notebooks.
Exercises such as gap filling (sentence completion), rearranging words, multiple choice, true or false statements, matching pairs or short-answer questions are really useful for English students of this level (Torut, 1999). At this point, English learners need a lot of practice on restricted contents in order to have correct usage of grammar structures in more complex instances of language in use. Additionally, they can practice a lot either in the classroom, or at home because most of this drill and practice exercises and language games can be accessed on free of charge online websites.
A great number of language learning websites can be used by teachers in order to add more fun to English classes, but most of all to create an environment that enables learners to have a positive attitude towards grammar learning activities. Instances of such grammar activities and games can be provided by many online resources with different applications, being useful and mostly adequate to integrate after the presentation of a grammar structure in order to give students practice in using it.
Chapelle, A. C. (2003). English language learning and technology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Retrieved from www.twirpx.com.
Stanley, G. and Mawer, K. (2008). “Language Learners & Computer Games: From Space Invaders to Second Life. “ TESL-EJ, Volume 11, Number 44, pp. 1-12. Retrieved from www.cc.kyoto-su.ac.jp/information/tesl-ej/ej44/a5.pdf.
Torut, B. (1999). “Computer Assisted Language Learning: An overview.” CALL: a guide for English Language Teachers, TASEAP: TASEAP University. Retrieved from web.warwick.ac.uk/CELTE/tr/ovCALL/taseapCALL.pdf.
Warschauer, M. (2002a). “A developmental perspective on technology in language education.”TESOL Quarterly, 36(3), pp. 453-475. Retrieved from education. uci.edu/ uploads/7/2/7/6/72769947/developmental1.pdf.