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Development of English as a Second Language in the Context of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games
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This dissertation examined the affordances of commercially developed massively multiplayer online (role-playing) games (MMOGs) for second language (L2) development. It comprises three self-contained but related studies. The first study, as a scoping review, synthesized 32 empirical papers, which investigated different aspects of L2 development in the context of these games. It sought to find out what aspects of L2 learning have been examined and how, and what the findings suggest regarding L2 learning opportunities and outcomes. This study highlighted that empirical research in this area is mainly qualitative and that L2-related affective factors, vocabulary, and communicative competence have been the most widely investigated topics. It concluded that MMOGs afford socially supportive and emotionally safe environments, which encourage L2 learners to use multiple opportunities for enriching their L2 vocabulary and enhancing their communicative competence in the target language. The second study was an exploratory research. It adopted an interactionist approach to characterize the nature of the negotiations of meaning that occurred in the conversational exchanges between native (NES) and non-native English speakers (NNESs) playing World of Warcraft. The data consisted of 63 hours of audio-recorded, in-game conversations over a 5-month period. The participants consisted of an NES and 6 NNESs who were divided into two groups (low and high intermediate) according to their English language proficiency. This study identified and characterized the most frequently occurred triggers, indicators, responses and reaction to the responses in three types of dyadic conversational exchanges. The third study examined L2 development through ―usage-based‖ theories of language learning. It was a time-series (longitudinal) research that examined the trend of changes in the linguistic complexity of the NNESs‘ spoken discourse during a 5-month period of gameplay. This examination involved repeated (in three equally-distributed time intervals) calculations of fourteen syntactic complexity indices and the indices associated with three components of lexical complexity (diversity, sophistication, and density). Overall, the results turned out to be more promising for the low intermediate than the high intermediate group of the NNESs. More detailed findings are presented and discussed in light of the current literature.
Massively multiplayer online (role-playing) games
English as a foreign language (EFL)
English as a second language (ESL)
negotiation of meaning
Jabbari, Nasser (2017). Development of English as a Second Language in the Context of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from