Open Worlds or Linear Paths: Exploring English-as-an-Additional-Language Oral Production Mediated by Minecraft




Tarves, Amy

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University of Victoria


As digital games continue to gain popularity in learners’ everyday life, it is increasingly pertinent that educators be informed about ways to utilize them in the classroom. This pilot study investigated how, in a digital game like Minecraft, the quantity and quality of oral language production changed in the type of game design implemented: An ‘open world’ design that allows player agency in deciding goals and tasks, or a ‘linear’ design that provides pre-designed tasks and target achievements. Two participants, both English-as-an-additional language learners, were given a free 2.5 hour English lesson that contained both types of gameplay. Analysis of the transcript from the recording session was done primarily using LexTutor (Version 8.5), with other means, along with observations, the survey completed by the players. Results show that ‘open world’ play had more turn-taking and higher lexical density, and ‘linear’ design produced longer exchanges with more lexical variety. The results of this preliminary study will inform future research looking into the use of pre-existing online games to promote vocab and language learning, and will aid teachers in deciding how to incorporate digital games into their language classes in order to enhance learning outcome.



English Language Learning (ELL), Digital Game-Based Language Learning (DGBLL), game design, vocab learning, Minecraft, English-as-an-additional-language