Grammar is intricate. This is certainly true with the complexity of English grammar. Grammar can be difficult for learners of English as a Second Language (ESL). But can grammar be mastered using games or digital technology? You might even wonder Why is Grammar Important (more on that here)?
Yes, grammar skills and knowledge can improve with the use of games or technology (Hashim, 2019). This is the finding from a 2019 study of 30 upper-level English Language Learners. Researchers in this grammar study used three different gaming applications:
An English grammar pre-test and post-test were given, and researchers drew two main conclusions about teaching grammar in gamified technologies:
- Learners’ scores on the grammar post-test showed a significant increase from the pre-test.
- Gamified learning is effective in teaching grammar to ESL learners.
We know that ESL students rarely attribute their struggles to only one factor (Finn, 2018). When it comes to comprehension and to writing, grammar is one of the factors that require direct instruction and/or repeated practice.
This specific study was limited in the number of participants, it didn’t have a control group, and it didn’t use a standardized test. Those limits aside, we accept this study as evidence for the responsible use of gamified technologies to teach grammar. No single study is fully conclusive for reading research, but it does add to our reading instruction knowledge base.
Finn, H.B. 2018. Articulating struggle: ESL students’ perceived obstacles to success in a community college writing class. Journal of Second Language Writing, Vol42, p.101-106. ISSN 1060-3743, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2018.09.001.
Hashim, Harwati and Rafiqah M. Rafiq, Karmila and Md Yunus, Melor, Improving ESL Learners’ Grammar with Gamified-Learning (August 3, 2019). Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on CALL Number 5. July 2019. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3431736 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3431736