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International Journal of Learning & Development ISSN 2164-4063 2011, Vol. 1, No. 1

Investigating the Impact of Using Games in Teaching Children English Ying-Jian Wang Department of Applied English / I-Shou University, Taiwan

Hui-Fang Shang Department of Applied English / I-Shou University, Taiwan

Paul Briody Department of Applied English / I-Shou University, Taiwan

Received: August 31, 2011

Accepted: October 2, 2011

Published: November 28, 2011

Doi:10.5296/ijld.v1i1.1118

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5296/ijld.v1i1.1118

Abstract The ever increasing numbers of EFL learners adds greater urgency to the need to prioritize the most effective means by which language proficiency can be enhanced; developing language skills through games being one such method. This study examines the overall effects of using games on the improvement of young children‟s English proficiency in relation to the following criteria: motivation; vocabulary acquisition; and anxiety due to peer pressure. The overarching aim of the research is to investigate the relationship between the usage of games and students‟ English proficiency. In this study, the subjects numbered 50 grade-six EFL students from one elementary school. By applying quantitative and qualitative research methods, the major findings demonstrate that students evidenced significant improvements in their learning motivation and vocabulary acquisition, and that their anxiety levels due to peer pressure were reduced when learning included games. Other findings reveal that there is a significant relationship/difference in the utilization of games and students‟ English performance, most notably with regards to proficiency levels. The various implications for pedagogical application of gaming components in regards to enhancing young learners‟ English performance and attitudes are also presented. Keywords: Motivation; vocabulary acquisition; anxiety; games; English proficiency Introduction Globalization and the expansion of economic markets have encouraged a related increase in the numbers of EFL learners worldwide. English continues to be the lingua franca in the vast majority of EFL situations, despite the growth in Asian economies. This expansion is 127

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International Journal of Learning & Development ISSN 2164-4063 2011, Vol. 1, No. 1

exacerbated in Taiwan following the introduction of laws and statutes passed in 2001, which require that children learn English from the third grade of elementary school (Taiwan Elementary and Secondary School Community, 2008). The situation in Taiwan sets demands that are both politically and pedagogically grounded, the simple goal being that EFL teachers ought to enhance young learners‟ English proficiency. This situation has put to the foreground, arguments concerned with the means by which such goals might be achieved. Previous short-fall in the development of English language proficiency in Taiwan has also prioritized discussion of how to motivate students. The connections that exist, between learning motivation and student language proficiency, are well documented (Krashen, as cited in Richards & Rodgers, 2001, p. 183). Teaching methods and learning strategies have been developed worldwide with the express purpose of improving students‟ English ability (Freeman, 2000). Using games is one such method and it is a popular contemporary trend in Taiwan in public elementary schools and cram schools. Numerous scholars (Chan & Lin, 2000; Jiang, 2008; Kuo, 2008; Robinson, 1960; Zheng, 2008) maintain that students‟ motivation and confidence can be enhanced in the process of playing games when they achieve learning goals in a relaxing environment. In addition, it is easier to maintain the attention of students by playing games because having fun satisfies an inborn predisposition toward attentiveness in human subjects (Atake, 2003; Chen, 2007; Deesri, 2002). Additionally, it is a useful tool in improve children‟s...
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