CALICO Journal, Vol 34, No 1 (2017)

The Effects of Group Dynamics on Language Learning and Use in an MMOG

Donald Vosburg
Issued Date: 24 Jan 2017

Abstract


The use of video games as a learning tool, in particular massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), continues to grow, as does the research in this field of study; research to-date has revealed benefits to the language learner as well as hindrances and research gaps (Godwin-Jones, 2014). This study examines participant perspectives on group dynamics, and how comradery and a foreign language guide affect participants’ in-game production of L2 German while playing World of Warcraft (WoW) as an extramural activity. This study focuses on an eight-week long MMOG gaming project, in which two groups of participants played WoW with a native German speaker in order to investigate the effects inter-group dynamics have on a participant’s real-time target language production and willingness to communicate. Participants reported during interviews and written journal entries that a lack of shared interests and motivation (learning and gaming) negatively affected the groups’ target language participation. The findings additionally suggest that a trained foreign language instructor paired with a motivated learner may result in increased participation; however these increases may be temporary if a group’s relationship does not extend beyond a shared goal of foreign language improvement.

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DOI: 10.1558/cj.29524

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