Reinhardt, Jonathon (University of Arizona)

Estimates are that upwards of 2 billion people played vernacular (non-educational) digital games in 2017, with 800 million active players – numbers that increase by the thousands every month (Statista, 2018). Games are produced by thousands of designers in scores of countries in dozens of languages, albeit usually the top 25 or so. Avid gamers thus often play in languages not their own, leveraging their gaming literacies to play (e.g. Chik, 2014). Others whose language is available recognize that the language of many globally marketed titles can be switched into other top languages, perhaps an L2 they’d like to learn or practice. Unfortunately, when gamers ask their L2 instructors if there are games to learn the L2, they are sometimes confronted with blank stares or warnings to avoid exposure to the vernacular, non-academic language with which commercial digital games are rife. Because of the widespread availability of L2 learning resources in the wilds of the Internet, gamers then may turn to social media for advice.

The digital presentation will outline a descriptive study that surveys this online advice and compares it to findings and recommended practices in gameful CALL (Sykes & Reinhardt, 2012; Reinders, 2012; Reinhardt, in press). A preliminary analysis of 145 posts on Reddit and Quora from 2014-2016 showed that, based on their own experiences, users recommend a wide variety of vernacular game titles and genres for L2 learning – anything that affords casual and enjoyable language use. They recommend playing games at the right proficiency level whose rules are not too unfamiliar, and that include a lot of language use and features offering time to read, re-read, listen, and re-listen. They suggest using subtitles, mimicking voices, referring to dictionaries, creating vocabulary lists, leveraging related media, and interacting with other players. These findings are evidence that the “the wisdom of the wild” is remarkably sound and aligned with research, and that digital gaming literacies are participatory, multifarious, and everyday (Reinhardt & Thorne, in press). Broader implications are that, in contrast to many formal L2 pedagogical practices, extramural informal L2 learning practices are self-directed, non-standardized, and heterogeneous, even as they may be intentional and effective.

References

Chik, A. (2014). Digital gaming and language learning: Autonomy and community. Language Learning and Technology, 18(2), pp. 85-100.

Reinders, H. (2012). Digital games in language learning and teaching. Palgrave-Macmillan.

Reinhardt, J. (in press). Gameful L2TL: A guide to digital gaming in second and foreign language teaching and learning. Palgrave-Macmillan.

Reinhardt, J. & Thorne, S. (in press). Digital literacies as emergent multifarious repertoires. In Arnold, N. & Ducate, L. (eds.), Engaging Language Learners through CALL: From theory and research to informed practice. Equinox.

Statista (2018). Number of active video gamers worldwide from 2014 to 2021 (in millions). Downloaded August 15, 2018 from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/748044/number-video-gamers-world/

Sykes, J. & Reinhardt, J. (2012). Language at Play: Digital Games in Second and Foreign Language Teaching and Learning. Pearson.