Video games can help kids learn new languages

Ezio Auditore, the lead character in the video game Assasin’s Creed

Ezio Auditore, the lead character in the video game Assasin’s Creed   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Simone Bregni uses Assassin’s Creed to teach Italian

Popular video games can be used to teach a new language, say scientists who have used the Assassin’s Creed II to teach the Italian language to a class of students.

Simone Bregni, associate professor at Saint Louis University in Spain, started playing video games in 1975 when he was 12. By the mid-1980s, he was playing textual adventures, and soon realised his English was improving rapidly as he played.

Mr. Bregni began incorporating video games in the classroom in language labs in 1997. It was the introduction of a new generation of animated, interactive adventure games in 2009, however, that brought striking results to his students. Set in fully inhabitable environments, they enriched both language and culture.

“Games have now evolved. They are interactive movies,” Mr. Bregni said.

Though Mr. Bregni has used Final Fantasy, Trivial Pursuit, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Heavy Rain and Rise of the Tomb Raider in his classrooms, one of the most useful games to teach Italian is Assassin’s Creed II.

“In my Italian Renaissance literature course, for example, students explore Florence as it flourished under the Medici by playing Assassin’s Creed II,” Mr. Bregni wrote in the study published in the journal Profession. “My 21st-century American students partake in the life of Ezio Auditore, a 20-something man from an affluent family, by wandering around a cultural and historical re-creation of 1476 Florence,” Mr. Bregni said.

Mr. Bregni used games to reinforce vocabulary and grammar, introduce cultural data and teach students to problem solve in Italian.

He links specific game chapters to pedagogical goals, preparing students with vocabulary and grammar worksheets, applying them in the relevant game, and discussing and reflecting on them afterwards in a written exercise, a process he calls Identify, Acquire, Create (IAC).

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 9:06:40 AM |

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