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A-Z GAME INDEX
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How to use games
There are several assumptions about the nature of language intrinsic to task-based learning. These assumptions can in turn be seen to be directly relevant to computer gaming. These are:
1 Language is primarily a means of producing meaning
Task-based learning emphasizes the central role of meaning in language use. “Meaning is primary…the assessment of the task is in terms of outcome” and that task-based learning is not “concerned with language display” (Skehan 1998). As with most computer games the assessment of the task is evaluated in terms of outcome or results, which in gaming language is expressed as a score or successful task completion. Though language is intrinsic to the game it is not the end in itself but rather it can be a means to the end.
2 Multiple models of language learning
Task-based learning draws on structural, functional, and interaction models of language. Therefore, task-based learning is not limited to a single model of language but rather draws on all three models of language theory. In computer gaming these models of language can be seen to exist. Firstly, language structures of reasonable complexity may be required to convey a series of meanings that need to be understood in order to successfully complete a stage in the game. Secondly, the functional aspect is the identifying of the game’s rules, solving the problem or puzzle and providing instructions. Last but not least, interaction comes through playing the game in pairs or teams.
3 Lexical units are central in language use and language learning
The term lexical units is used here to include vocabulary, lexical phrases collocations, as well as grammar. In gaming such language elements in high use include game specific vocabulary, 1st and 2nd conditionals, modals of probability, imperatives, linking expressions, as well as language expressing consequences. Selective vocabulary, verbs of mobility, prepositions etc all become very important structures
Conversation is the central focus of language and language acquisition
Speaking and trying to communicate with others is considered the basis for second language acquisition in task-based learning; (Richards and Rodgers 2001). In computer gaming conversation is generated both on the topic (orally in class) and within the game itself (typed text). Marc Prensky talks of today’s generation being “digital natives”. Today students are more concerned with the topic of gaming than films and books, which are probably topics their parents are more concerned with. Today many online games (World of Warcraft, Secondlife etc) require participants to actively communicate with fellow gamers online in order to complete a shared task.
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