Using Gamification in the EFL Environment

Outside of the learning environment, gamification is nothing new. Industries and businesses have been using this strategy to incorporate gaming aspects into their businesses for several years with varying degrees of success.

More recently, language learning environments have been tentatively incorporating gamification into their classes, and this trend is increasing yearly.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is the use of aspects of gaming and game design techniques in traditionally non-gaming environments, such as finance, marketing, and education.

Why Use Gamification?

Gaming is a popular global pasttime that makes a lot of people happy, transcends age, gender, nationality and language. It also encourages motivation, has easily achievable “goals” and promotes a relaxed environment. All of which are seen by educators as desirable qualities in the classroom.

How to Use Gamification in an Educational Environment

‘But we’ve been using games in the classroom for years. This is nothing new,’ some educators may proclaim.

And indeed this is the case. But it’s important to preface at this point that gamification is not the use of games, it’s the use of gaming techniques and aspects of gaming. 

So how can you use Gamification to enhance your class?

Gamification, as mentioned before, has clear goals, measurable progress, and just as important, requires participation. As any experienced teacher in Korea can attest to, getting students to participate in activities can be a labor of misery, especially as many Korean students don’t like to make mistakes in front of their peers, and so avoiding the activity entirely seems a better choice than trying and failing.

So with a combination of gamification techniques such as badges, leveling up, quest-lines, you not only encourage students to participate in activities, you also create a social element as they can join a group, compete against friends and experience both teamwork and solo.

With the development of technology used in EFL classrooms, gamification can naturally evolve alongside the technology. There are numerous examples of educational gamification being entirely technology-based; Duolingo being a prime example. While the EFL instructor can take advantage of wide-ranging technology advancements, gamification isn’t all about the technology.

If the teacher finds themselves in a technology-barren space, gamification techniques can still be applied. Paper-based points systems, achievement stamps for younger students, all work well in the classroom without the use of technology.

Conclusions

Gamification is a widely used and versatile technique that can enhance any classroom environment. The core components of participation and achievable goals make it a must for any classroom, and the overall style can be adapted for any age group or ability level.