[Presentation] “Re-rolling SLA methodology” at JALT 2017

A small update to the blog today with the announcement of our upcoming, joint presentation at JALT2017. The official title is Re-Rolling SLA Methodology With Tabletop Games, and if the title alone doesn’t tantalise you enough, the abstract is below followed by details of the venue, date and time of presentation.

Our presentation is on Sunday, but we will also be at the conference all day Saturday, with plans on hosting an informal “introduction to tabletop games” session. Whether the session runs all day or just in the evening is still undecided, but if you are interested in learning about modern board games, please hunt us down or contact us via James.


This forum explores the use of tabletop games as an innovative means for language development that engages the imaginations and critical thinking faculties of EFL learners. We begin by explicating what we see as the significant limitations of popular forms of communicative language teaching (CLT) and digital game-based language learning. Next, we make a broad case for the use of tabletop games alongside approaches such as Task-Based Language Teaching (Willis, 1996) and multiliteracies pedagogy (New London Group, 1996, 2009) as a means of addressing some of these limitations.

We present three ethnographic case studies from our university contexts, exploring the use of games in compulsory classes, a self-access learning center, and an extracurricular project. We focus on the differing contextual constraints and affordances for game-based learning and critically evaluate the efficacy of various pedagogical models. In addition, we highlight overlaps between EFL methodologies and digital game-based language learning in terms of “learning to play” and engagement with the multimodal texts of games and discourse surrounding games (Sykes and Reinhardt, 2012). We argue that games have strong potential for leading students to increased autonomy, engagement with the L2, and heightened awareness of local and global cultural discourses, genres and the diverse multimodal ensembles of meaning (Kress, 2012, 2016) that characterise 21st century communication.  

We conclude the forum by reflecting upon common challenges and opportunities around tabletop gaming and suggest some broadly applicable pedagogical implications from our research and experience with tabletop gaming in EFL contexts.

Date: Sunday, November 19th from

Time: 5:40 PM – 7:10 PM.

Room: 402

Venue: Tsukuba International Congress Center (Epochal Tsukuba), Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

Our introductions


James York (me)

I am an assistant professor at Tokyo Denki University where I conduct research on the use of games in low-level language learning contexts. I am also a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester (UK). My research falls under two broad headings.

  1. Kotoba Miners: a project exploring how tasks can be created effectively in virtual worlds.
  2. Kotoba Rollers: the development of a teaching methodology utilizing non-digital (board, card, etc.) games as the key teaching tool in low-level EFL classrooms.

can be found on the internet here: Twitter (@cheapshot) or on my blog.

Peter Hourdequin

Hi there,

I teach English and conduct research in the faculty of foreign studies at Tokoha University in Shizuoka, Japan. I am also working on a phd in educational research at Lancaster university in the UK. I have various research interests, but a unifying theme is multiliteracies. Jonathan and James have sparked my interest in games, and I have recently been exploring ways to use games as a focal point for learning and communication in my university’s self access center.

You can see more about my academic work here: http://researchmap.jp/read0150176

Jonathan deHaan

Jonathan studies educational games and simulations and is particularly interested in methods and technologies that support the development of (a) second language skills and (b) media literacy skills. Jonathan is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of International Relations at the University of Shizuoka, Japan.

website: http://jonathandehaan.net/
twitter: https://twitter.com/jonathandehaan
Game Lab website: https://sites.google.com/site/gamelabshizuoka/
(latest project) Game Terakoya: https://sites.google.com/site/gameterakoyashizuoka/home