Pedagogy

Gamification in Language Learning: beat the students' engagement crisis.

August 3, 2022
4 min read

Exhausted? Overwhelmed? Addicted to smartphones? Easily bored? Are your language students living more and more often in these conditions?

Education is the brick of our future -  but sometimes it is hard for students to show interest in every subject, topic, lesson, or lecture. Learners frequently feel bored and uninterested in the topics debated.

In other words, they are experiencing the so-called "engagement crisis”.

The main reason might be linked to the increasing addiction to smartphones and the need of being always and everywhere in touch with the virtual world of Instagram, TikTok, and other social networks.

Dear reader, take a breath! The engagement crisis is not an incurable disease, but a widespread phenomenon that can be fixed by adding gamification elements to your lessons.

What does gamification mean?

Gamification is the use of game design elements in non-game contexts (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke 2011)

In a nutshell, gamification is the craft of deriving all the fun and engaging elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities such as business, medicine and even education.

Why is gamification important?

If it is well applied, gamification can positively influence human behavior and stimulate higher interest, boost curiosity, creativity, and a desire to do.

In the field of education, for example, gamification has the power to make students live a unique learning experience, as they are the main actors in their educational path;  as in a “3D adventure”, learners are actively involved and engaged, and without their participation the experience itself is meaningless.

Gamification is proven to make students more motivated and committed, as they effortlessly learn” by playing”, instead of only “by doing”; hence, they achieve higher results, while boosting their self-confidence.

That’s why gamification is broadly used in many learning platforms - Let's just think about DuoLingo, Kahoot, EdApp - or Edugo.AI.

The simplest and most popular way to use gamification is via the three game mechanics: points (a way to give feedback and track progress), badges (feedback in form of rewards), and leaderboard (scorebar that ranks learners and indicates who performs the best in a certain activity).

However, there is something more -  gamification applies for human-focus design, that uses game elements to leverage human emotions and motivation. To well-understand the concept, it’s a must to briefly introduce the Octalysis framework, a model developed by Yu-Kai Chou, which is based on the eight core drivers for human motivation that are involved in gamification.

They can be grouped into:

  • Left Brain Core Drives, tendencies related to logic, ownership, and analytical thought, linked to extrinsic motivation; on the other hand, Right Brain Core Drives, characterized by creativity, sociality, and curiosity.
  • White Hat Core Drives, motivation elements that make us feel powerful, fulfilled, and satisfied; on the contrary, Black hat Core Drives make us feel obsessed, anxious and addicted.

One of  the clearest examples of gamification applied in language learning is Duolingo. This learning platform  takes advantage of both white and black hats core drives to solve the engagement crisis: while performing well, students are gratified with gems and awards (white hat core drives); at the same time, students fill addicted to the platform and a little stressed, because they are aware that one missed day of practicing implies the streak turned to zero (black hat core drive).

The result? Engaged students that are eager to learn.

However, you as a language teacher or school’s Pedagogical Director can make students’ paths even greater.

How?

By offering a language learning experience that not only is gamified, but also personalized to their unique needs.

When learners enroll into one of your courses, they know they will study lessons that are made to help them achieve their goal - might it be to pass a language exam, communicate in the foreign language in a work environment, or simply for leisure.

In short - students will not follow a strictly fixed and pre-made path, as in the most popular Apps; but will learn what they exactly need, thanks to your personalized support.

So how to create gamified and personalized language lessons at once?

Here is where Edugo.AI lands you a hand.

Our platform allows you to digitalize your existing language material - video, audio, ppt or pdf, etc… - and transform it into a full interactive lesson, thanks to the power of AI. Whatever topic you are going to touch with your students, it will be processed by our AI-powered LMS specific for language learning - this ensures custom-made lessons that mirror your own method.

What about gamification then?

Well, when the interactive learning activities are created, you will notice that they all include sounds, colors, and progress bars;  as students practice, they gain points and badges that are saved and displayed in the course’s leaderboard.

And if you want to deliver the most personalized lessons ever, you can also include motivational messages (“You are doing great!” “I know you can make it!”), or even videos of yourself or your school’s avatar inciting students on the path, by constantly addressing their motivation.

How to win the students’ engagement crisis? Add a little of fun and interactiveness, i.e. gamification, to your language lessons, without losing your own pedagogical imprint.

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