The Internet has allowed many young people around the world to be exposed to the English language much sooner and much more abundantly than their parents and grandparents were when they were their age. As all teachers know, the first years of our lives are the best for learning any language, so the learning process through exposure to the English language at an early stage is especially efficient. Now kids and young adults speak a surprisingly proficient English for the level of formal education they actually got in school or after school classes. Parents become surprised at the abilites of their children, and often it is the little ones who translate thing from and to English for their parents.
This happens because exposure is the natural way in which we learn our first language when we are toddlers. Exposure to a second or third language should also do the job, and the Internet is great for exposure in this regard. Not only do children and teenagers learn the language through posts and social media content, but also, games and videogames play a huge role in their English proficiency.
Many people have become familiar with English terms, even those we don't use as frequently, thanks to online games, videogames and other forms of virtual entertainment. The English language allows them to interact and play with people from all around the world, who belong to different cultures, time zones and even contients. They even know how to name things, such as medieval items or weaponry, many of an Englishman would need to consult a dictionary to know.
The great advantage of games and play for learning anything, not only the English language, is that they naturally attract the attention and the motivation of children - and people of any age with their inner child intact. Games allow students to have fun, easily enjoy the learning process and increase the intensity of their learning process if such learning is directly rewarded by the structure of the game.
If games that were never intended as tools for learning English as a foreign Language can do the job reasonably well, then games that are specifically designed for this purpose should work wonders. In fact, experience shows that adding a ludic component to any English class will not only improve the attention and motivation of the students, but also increase their actual performance after the course is finished.
Even intensive english course for adults can benefit from a more playful and gamified approach to the learning process. Many adults are used to a serious life where games rarely have any room for themselves, but you would be surprised to find how many of them are actually eager to have some fun with educational games, even if in some cases they need a previous process to loosen up a bit and find a way to enjoy games like they used to when they were younger.
In a world where traditional models are once again trascended and complemented with alternative models that adapt to a changing demand on the side of the students, the gamification of education seems like an interesting approach to teaching the English language. As we know, the use of games has proven to be educational even before it was seriously considered as a method for teaching English to young adults and adults. It would be wise from us to take this experience into consideration and evaluate the possibility of integrating games to our teaching programmes, just as some schools are already doing in this moment.
Accademies like Totally English are breaking through the Irish educational system by combining games and traditional approaches in a very organic way. This shows changes in the demand on the side of students because more and more people attend these accademies looking for a different educational setting, that is a better match to their own interests and preferred learning mehtods.
Gamifying the teaching process doesn't neccessarily mean that more traditional schemes will go away in a year or two, but is an interesting complement to traditional classroom settings because they offer answers to some of the most common problems teachers have to face every day when they work. The lack of attention and motivation can bee caused by tiredness, boredom or an all around disconnection with the teaching method. Learning the English language through games and play can make up for these problems and increase the motivation and compromise of students by providing them an experience they can easily enjoy.
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