PLAY TO LEARN by Lillianne Rose Sambo - Profesor/a de inglés


Have you ever done a puzzle, or seen someone do it? There are many ways of doing it. You can start with the frame, you can group by colors, or by elements ... You can make them from many pieces, and even some 3D ones. But regardless of how you start, the end goal is to build a harmonious image or object.

For me, learning a new language is like building a puzzle; all the elements of the communication that you write must be coherent, fluid, beautiful. But just like in a game, if you want to win and reach the goal, you must first learn the rules.

So if it's a game, can we apply gamification rules to learn a language? Many authors claim that all activities can be gamified. Currently in organizations gamification principles have been incorporated in areas as diverse as sales, production, or human resources; generating in this way, more attractive work environments that enhance the strengths of the human talent involved.

Traditionally, game techniques are considered typical of children's environments; however, today, they have been used for problem analysis, product design, sales strategies, recruitment processes; among others

In education today, gamification is on the spectrum of the world. Far from being a fad, it is a reality, a visualization with a certain perspective on the basic motivational mechanism that proposes a different and friendly context towards the investigation, experimentation and development of the student in and out of the classroom.

For example, Waze gamifies the process of getting to a place from sweets, levels, and avatars. Duolingo implements the strategy by rewarding and challenging those who want to learn a language; And in the big cities of the world, Escape Rooms are opened where players apply a whole series of cognitive skills to find the solution, or you can use games more rooted in philosophies such as Serious Lego Play. (If you want you can get more information on this link

But if I do want to apply it, what should I consider?


There are three basic concepts to incorporate:

The mechanics of the game: through which student participation and commitment are achieved through a series of challenges that must be overcome. Collecting objects, points, levels ...

Dynamics: aspects of the game that make the user perceive the experience in a certain way. Narrative, companionship, competition, reward, recognition ... and

Game components: props, stationery, equipment, or quality of graphics and programming developed in the case of video games, all the resources used for its use and development.

It seems very complicated, however it promises many benefits.


Some important advantages:

1. It helps to speak before thinking. There should be no time for fear to appear, or for anxiety to immobilize the student when communicating orally. Therefore, if they want to win, they must launch to speak. 

2. It allows connecting with peers. Relating to others encourages more practice. The sense of ridicule is easier to disappear in game situations. 

3. Motivation. Playing while learning increases student motivation. Tools such as video games or some applications can help to enter a language in a pleasant way and to maintain consistency since the student relaxes and concentrates on obtaining the reward.

4. Practice is a good antidote. "Facing fear lessens anxiety," experts say. The more you play, the more you practice, therefore reducing anxiety. In foreign languages, with practice, the loss of anxiety is transformed into confidence. Games stimulate practice, engage. 

5. Making mistakes is normal. There are studies that affirm that some people, especially perfectionists, tend to avoid oral communication if they believe that their level is not sufficient. The game environment can lessen the pressure by making mistakes, as it is conceptualized as a more neutral and safe environment even when it simulates reality. (Well, not in the case of the Escape Roomsfrown

6. It encourages consuming audiovisual content and reading: "Practicing listening by watching movies or series, and reading books or newspapers in the language you are learning helps build confidence." This is a tip frequently used by language teachers. Many gaming platforms require knowledge of current movie or series phrases as well as fashion articles and contemporary magazines or events. So the student who wants to win must be updated in these media to participate.

In conclusion: Many times we grow up thinking that learning and working should be annoying, difficult and cumbersome. At the same time, we learn rules and games effortlessly seeking high performance and efficiency. We can make the transfer. 

«Playing every day for a while contributes to feeling a little more prepared every day»


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