JALT2018 Presentation

Game-based language learning:
It’s not all fun and games

The aim of this presentation was to:

  1. Give an overview of the main research trends of GBLL
  2. Compare GBLL to gamification
  3. Provide details of my own approach to TBLT-informed GBLL
  4. Give advice to those interested in GBLL

This post contains the presentation video, slides, and references used during the presentation.


#JALT2018 presentation video



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  • Cornillie, F., Thorne, S. L., & Desmet, P. (2012). ReCALL special issue: Digital games for language learning: challenges and opportunities. ReCALL, 24(03), 243–256. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0958344012000134
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  • Rama, P. S., Black, R. W., Van Es, E., & Warschauer, M. (2012). Affordances for second language learning in World of Warcraft. ReCALL, 24(3), 322–338. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0958344012000171
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  • Sykes, J. M. (2018). Digital games and language teaching and learning. Foreign Language Annals, 51(1), 219–224. https://doi.org/10.1111/flan.12325
  • Todd, A. (2017). Why Gamification is Malarkey. The Morning Watch: Educational and Social Analysis, 44(1–2), 2009–2015. Retrieved from http://journals.library.mun.ca/ojs/index.php/mwatch/article/view/1741/1350
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  • Thomas, M. (2012). Contextualizing digital game-based language learning: Transformational paradigm shift or business as usual?. In H. Reinders (Ed). Digital games in language learning and teaching (pp. 11-31). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
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  • York, J. (2014). Minecraft and language learning. In C, Gallagher (Ed.), Minecraft in the Classroom: Ideas, inspiration, and student projects for teachers. Peachpit Press, Berkeley, CA, USA.
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  • Zheng, D., Newgarden, K., & Young, M. F. (2012). Multimodal analysis of language learning in World of Warcraft play: Languaging as Values-realizing. ReCALL, 24(03), 339–360. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0958344012000183

Thanks for reading!


JALT 2017 “Re-rolling SLA Methodology with Tabletop Games”

Thanks to all of those who attended our forum at JALT 2017. Some of the attendees asked for copies of the slides we used, so we are uploading them here.

There was a lot of content (even though it was a 90 minute workshop), so we hope people can look through at a slower pace here. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below in the discussion section.

[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