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Gamification in the ELL Classroom

  • Gamification in the ELL Classroom

The following blog post was written by Christina Musa, a faculty member at the School of Global Access.

A couple of years ago, I went to a presentation on gamification. The presenter spoke about how she had gamified her curriculum, and how the students responded to it. Since that time, I have been trying to learn more about gamification and how aspects of it might be used in English for Academic Purposes (EAP).

Gamification is not about playing games. It is about applying game rules to other activities. The elements of game playing which need to be applied are: challenge, chance, competition, cooperation, feedback, rewards, winning and progression.

Gamified classroom activities should include typical elements of game playing, such as applying rules of play, scoring points, competing with others, and tracking scores on leaderboards. The idea is as teachers we need to take these engaging aspects of game playing and apply them when delivering lessons. For me, gamification is exciting because we not only use online applications such as Kahoot!, Quizlet, Socrative, or Padlet, which are interactive and engaging, but they also check learners’ understanding or abilities. I find gamification appealing as it promises to help make hard ‘stuff’ in our learners’ education fun.

I think elements of game playing in an EAP curriculum can be motivating and provide a valuable learning and language experience. Over the last two terms, I have gamified one aspect of two different lessons.

The first was a newspaper activity. The students were divided into groups, and each group was given an article. They worked together to understand the article and then they jigsawed. After the jigsaw, I had them put their articles away, and in their groups, they completed a Kahoot! quiz to check their comprehension. The competition was good-natured, and after each round, they got to see how they were doing compared to other teams. Immediate feedback was positive, and they indicated they wanted to do more activities like this.

I also gamified an activity on APA referencing. This time I used a Socrative quiz, which they completed individually. They were also able to track their progress compared to their classmates. I have also used Padlet to check concepts with them. Learner response has been quite positive. For many learners, it is also a chance to improve their digital literacy. A few of my learners commented their children had shown them Kahoot! quizzes they had done in class.

I think we should consider mindfully gamifying aspects of our lessons because game playing not only engages our learners but also enhances their learning.

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