Abstract Details

The Use Of Interactive Multi-player Games To Enhance Second Language Acquisition Of Both Mandarin And English

Research Question: “To what degree can it be evidenced that interactive role playing games enhance the mutual second language acquisition of both Mandarin and English?”

MMORPG have become a popular area of language acquisition research (Lee and Pass, 2014; Jabbari and Eslami, 2018; Yasar, 2018). Raising the question of whether games and education can be effectively combined; to create a game based on research that has education within its core yet still presents as an engaging gaming experience and provides a mutual learning platform for two languages.

Serious games genre of game focuses on an educational agenda first and entertainment second (Sorensen and Meyer, 2007). One aspect that requires consideration when designing serious games is the balance between formal and informal learning. Furthermore, by the inclusion of both individual and social learning environments learning will be more effective.

The current study is longitudinal and focuses on the question: Can interactive multi-player games enhance second language acquisition? For the purposes of the study, the main focus will be on producing and comprehending written language as the HSK exam is primarily reading and writing focused. These will be drawn from the level 1 Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK; Chinese equivalency exam) and from the corresponding words in English (Common European Framework Reference for languages A1). The reasoning for this is that within my role as a Mandarin teacher at Abertay University I will have a pool of beginner students who can be invited to participate in the research.

The pilot study will apply psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic research knowledge to a game which has been designed and developed by myself according to my specifications. The benefit of this is that the game exactly corresponds to the target language needs and negates the need to mod a quest system of another RPG. Additionally, I have designed the game in both English and Mandarin with the aim of players cooperating in both target languages via a text chat system. Target language will be taught and then recall tested. Two control groups will also have the target language primed and tested. In order to keep exposure to language, one control group will use an app for learning target language through rote-repetition. The secondary control group will not be expected to do any further revision, unless they wish to and that will be recorded. The game is an RPG where the player completes various tasks which are similar for each language. These tasks start with simply getting dressed, eating breakfast and meeting people building up to more complex puzzles using colours, logic and recall. After exposure to the game recall will be retested in the playing group and the control groups. The hypothesis is that the students who played the game will show a significant increase in word recall and target language in use. Two aspects are predicted to become apparent in the result data.

  • Firstly, the Proteus effect of using Avatars, can help negate the anxiety that a learner may feel within face-to-face conversation in the target language ((Hooi and Cho, 2014).).
  • Secondly, that the target language learners who are involved in the game based supplementary learning are hypothesized to experience higher levels of motivation for learning the language (Cornillie et al., 2012).


  • Cornillie, F., Thorne, S. and Desmet, P. (2012). ReCALL special issue: Digital games for language learning: challenges and opportunities. ReCALL, [online] 24(03), pp.243-256. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0958344012000134
  • Hooi, R. and Cho, H. (2014). Avatar-driven self-disclosure: The virtual me is the actual me. Computers in Human Behavior, [online] 39, pp.20-28. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.06.019
  • Jabbari, N. and Eslami, Z. (2018). Second language learning in the context of massively multiplayer online games: A scoping review. ReCALL, [online] 31(01), pp.92-113. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0958344018000058
  • Lee, J. and Pass, C. (2014). Massively multiplayer online gaming and English language learning. In: H. Gerber and S. Schamroth Abrams, ed., Bridging Literacies with Videogames, 1st ed. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, pp.91-101.
  • Yasar, S. (2018). The Role of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games in Extramural Second Language Learning: A Literature Review. Journal of Educational Technology and Online Learning. [online] Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.31681/jetol.436100

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