The Gamification Concept: How to Include It in Language Lessons


In a very popular TED conversation, game designer Jane McGonigal explored important questions: why are games so attractive, and how can we get as much from our games as we’re giving them? As a collective, people spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games. Older generations take those numbers for granted, and they are devastated by the way young people are wasting their time.

However, educators have found great ways to implement games into the classroom, through a concept called gamification of education. Since student love games, we cannot prevent them from enjoying them no matter how hard we’re trying to awaken their love for reading. Instead, we can embrace this inclination of theirs and use it to make learning fun. Gamification is especially useful for the ESL classroom.

In the continuation, we will list 4 methods that help you introduce games in the teaching processes.

1.    Promote Social Activities In and Outside the Classroom

Social media is so widespread that you can’t keep ignoring its influence over learners. When they have questions, they use Quora, Facebook groups, or Twitter to get immediate solutions.

Maria Roberts, a professional writer and education expert working for EssayOnTime, explains that when teachers use social media properly, they can only benefit from them. “It doesn’t matter whether an ESL teacher likes Facebook or not; the important thing is that the students like it. The social aspect is crucial in language learning, so it’s clear why social media platforms are on your side.”

●      Create a private Facebook group for your class. Allow your students to ask questions and collaborate with each other.

●      Use your social media profiles to post links to useful online sources, and encourage your students to do the same.

●      You can use the private Facebook group to post reminders about upcoming tests, and share the results.

●      Use Hinative, HelloTalk, and similar tools that will connect your class with people who already know the language, as well as with learners of their category.

2.    Think of Achievements and Give Out Badges

Gamers, nerds, and geeks are three different, but close concepts. Do you know what connects them? The desire to explore technology. We’ll have to agree that we’re living in the era of nerds. They are dominating the world of games, movies, and all Internet categories. When people are able to gain achievements for their efforts, they get more nerdy. They get more motivated to accomplish better results. That’s something you can use in an ESL classroom.

Duolingo, for example, motivates the users with badges and unlocked challenges as they make progress. You can use the same method to encourage your learners to try harder. Create different badges and give them to the students who achieve great results on the test. Give other badges to the ones who shine in vocabulary and pronunciation. The students who write the best essays can get special badges, too.

●      It’s important to have a system. Present the rules to the class, so they will know what results they will need to achieve in order to get a badge or unlock another challenge. If you give out badges based on personal evaluation, your choices may come across as preferences. You don’t want that; you need a system that will seem fair, just like a video game.

●      Use a point  system and feature it on the whiteboard. Some level of healthy competition is always useful.

Badges and points are a great concept that promotes learning, especially when you’re trying to personalize the process and enable each student to make progress according to their own capacity. When they look at the badges they’ve earned, the students will understand their own progress and potential, and they will try harder to get better.  

3.    Use the Potential of Smartphones

Smartphones and tablets are getting more popular than ever. According to a report by a US market research companies, there are 8.6 billion mobile phone devices on the planet. Considering the fact that there are 7.3 billion people on our planet, it’s easy to understand how powerful these devices are. So, there’s no need to ignore them.

MindSnacks is a great game that helps students to learn languages. You can use that one and many others to support the learning process and evaluate the skills of your students. 

●      Have a smartphone day, when your students will be allowed to play educational games as a classroom activity. Pick a good game and write down the results everyone achieves. They will enjoy this activity!

4.    Music Videos Are Great Foundation for Gamification

Games like LyricsTraining are great for organizing a karaoke day in the classroom.

●      You can pick a song, which doesn’t have words that are inappropriate for school.

●      Then, separate the class in teams, since some of your students might have stage fright. It will be easier for them to sing in groups.

●      Give them some time to practice. You can assign the song before the actual event, so everyone can practice at home. The more they practice, the better they will get in pronunciation.

●      Give them the lyrics, so they can read while listening to the song. This is a great method for helping them remember how the words are being written.

It’s Time for Progress. It’s Time for Gamification!

ESL courses are too focused on structure, grades, assignments, and points. When a student is put in such a system, they get terrified and they instantly claim: “English is hard.” It doesn’t have to be that way. When you make learning fun for them, they will love making progress and facing new challenges. Games can help you achieve that effect.  

Brenda Savoie is a content marketing magician at Essayontime . A grammar tutor master at Uk- dissertation  and desperate dreamer. Writing her first romantic novel. Seeking contentment through mindfulness. Find her on Twitter and Facebook


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