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Informal Learning Of English Via Online Games

Noor Azwa Mohamed Ozir
General Studies Department, Ungku Omar Polytechnic

Abstract : Computer games as a leisure activity have become an ever-increasing part of many young people’s day-to-day lives (Griffiths & Davis, 2005). Krasilovsky (2006) claimed that young learners tend to ‘favor “edutainment” applications-academics-oriented games’. Wood (2001) investigated the use of learning games as a learning tool and concluded that game-like formats could be more effective at capturing learners’ attention than traditional media such as textbooks (cited in Florence W. M. Yip and Alvin C. M. Kwan, 2006). In accordance with reported statistics, online computer gaming is the preferred pastime of many people worldwide. What impact does gaming have in general on people, and more important is how can we as teachers take note of the knowledge and experience that is collected through online computer gaming? The aim of this paper is to explore the view towards online games and how they can contribute to enrich the vocabulary of English Language in an informal learning. Data was collected from an interview with seven online game players who were playing at various cyber cafes. Apart from being a source of entertainment, the players considered online games to be an educational resource with regard to English vocabulary and general communication skills. It is hoped that this study will contribute in raising the awareness of online gaming as a tool for informal learning and can give ideas to teachers of English Language in triggering the correct source via online games to enrich the students vocabulary.

Keywords : informal learning, english, vocabulary, online games, educational resources.

1. INTRODUCTION

Online games are one type of entertainment oriented and Internet-based Information Technology (IT) sources. With the rapid diffusion of broadband Internet services and high-end graphic cards for computers, online games have become more popular and attractive than ever before. Online games represent the leading technological edge of the entertainment sector. Such games now attract many thousands of players, often collaborating or competing in a lag-free and visually rich environment while simultaneously using an array of data manipulation and online communication tools (Kirriemuir, 2005). The players also spend a lot of their time involving in the virtual world. Within Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG), the average amount of weekly game play ranges from 12 to 21 hours. Much of this time is spent communicating – nearly 30 percent of MMOG players spend their in-game time with "beyond-game" friends (Seay, A.F., Jerome, W. J., Lee, K. S., & Kraut, R. E. 2004). Since so much time is spent involving in this virtual world, there must be some benefits that the players gained through online games as learning could take place in informal situation and be put into different contexts. Hence, language learnt from playing online games, could be applied outside of the game. For example, they have to use English when communicating with other players and the vocabulary gained can be applied on settings outside of the game. Also, social skills learnt from the structure of a game like World of Warcraft can be used when they communicate in the real world. The games provide opportunities for learning social skills and also using English language in situations such as: how to meet people; how to manage a small group; how to coordinate and cooperate with people; and how to participate in sociable interaction with them. These are the factors that this paper intended to look at. In fact, the past years have seen a rapid growth in academic interest in computer and video games, especially online games. Conferences, peer-reviewed journals, bodies and academic organisations such as DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association) have sprung up and matured (John Kirriemuir,2005). This...
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