Christina Chorianopoulou writes about her session “Ventures In Vocation: English Learning In Teen Game-Based Classes” at the Image Conference in Athens.
Some ideas spark in our minds because of a need; a need to learn or to improve, or perhaps a need to simply belong. When adolescent students come seeking to fulfill those needs, but also to gain hands-on experience and practice their language skills, the idea begins to shape into a wholesome image: access to appropriate and engaging learning materials, to a productive environment and the opportunity to form perspectives and visualise the future.
For students of state vocational schools in Greece, however, this image sometimes appears in a grayscale version, with one or two hours of English classes per week (depending on the sector or specialty they have chosen) dedicated to teacher instruction and memorization of relevant terms, with little, if any, appropriately graded learning material and a sweeping notion that improving English language skills is not as important as success in other courses in their specialty. Though language educators in such schools usually do their utmost to assist their students, the system and method itself scarcely leave room for improvement.
Perhaps an alternative approach, even beyond school boundaries and time schedule, can light up the image again.
During the session, we will explore the efforts of three groups of teenagers, studying in the sectors of mechanical engineering, interior decoration and agriculture, to cultivate and improve their English language skills through Digital Gaming. We will discuss the practical decisions, from choice of digital games to assessment and reflection upon practices, as well as the outcomes and progress from both the educator’s and the students’ perspective. The session aims to leave participants with solid understanding on how to employ digital games in language learning in both general and particular contexts and offer insights on methods, tools and good practices from using digital gaming as a learning opportunity.