School syllabus now includes gaming apps

Leading psychologist Dr Simon Moore’s new research shows that contrary to popular belief, gaming apps can be beneficial for children’s learning

Children arriving back at school after the summer holidays are being greeted with a new syllabus – that includes playing games on an iPad. Leading Chartered Psychologist and Member of the British Psychological Society, Dr Simon Moore (BSc, PhD, CPsychol), has unveiled new insight demonstrating how language-based gaming apps can help children develop their language learning.

Throwing out the age-old adage that video games are bad for children’s health, Moore and his team have created a whitepaper, supported by new qualitative research, detailing the significant number of advantages of game-based learning.

The study shows that traditional teaching methods are enhanced when using the game based learning app, and schools in the US are already introducing it to their pupils.

Working in conjunction with educational game developers Wibbu, 30 children aged between nine and 10 years old, supported by teachers from Danegrove School, London, participated in the study.

Overall, the study discovered that children who played with the app were more enthusiastic, engaged and excited to be learning, which led to a desire to learn more.

With UK schoolchildren now less likely to speak a foreign language than those in any other European nation, Moore firmly believes games-based apps could be the way to overcome this issue – and indeed enhance traditional education methods.

During the study, half of the children were tasked with playing Ruby Rei, a language-learning video game app for mobile, and the other half invited to interact with online exercises and games that taught Spanish. Their engagement, enjoyment and experience levels were closely monitored over the course of one week.

The results showed that the children who used the game found their understanding of Spanish improve significantly more than those who did not play it. The children who took part in the Ruby Rei experimental group improved in their Spanish language proficiency (23%) by twice that of the children who used the online exercises (12% improvement).

This could well be the future of language learning – and education as a whole. – Deborah Metcalf, Headteacher, Danegrove School

Furthermore, children who played with the Ruby Rei game voluntarily engaged in this activity four times more (six hours) than the children who were using the online exercises (1 hour 24 minutes).

One of the children who participated in the experiment said:“Before this, I found learning a language a bit boring. Playing made me have fun and concentrate on the game instead of the language. I think playing the game distracted me from finding it boring, so I probably learned much more from doing it.”

Ruby Rei focuses on immersing players in an epic adventure so they never feel like they are using an ‘educational tool’. Instead, they can just enjoy the game and gain new language skills as they play.

Dr Simon Moore, comments: “This study proves that game-based learning offers a significant number of advantages to support education, especially when it comes to language acquisition.Coupling traditional education techniques with this method creates a different way for the brain to learn, making it more fun and enjoyable – and as the study showed, the children who took part in the game experiment were far more motivated to engage in the activity.”

Deborah Metcalf Headteacher for Danegrove School, London, adds: “Game-based learning creates a positive experience for which not just children, but students of any age, feel comfortable and confident to develop and enhance their skills. Moreover, games-based apps help to diminish social inhibition and peer embarrassment, a known barrier new students experience when developing conversational proficiency. This could well be the future of language learning – and education as a whole.”

Throughout the process the user has the opportunity to:

♦  Learn over 1,500 words

♦  Develop their grammar from beginner to intermediate level

♦  Engage in over 600 interactions

All elements of the game have been crafted by linguists, language teachers and game developers to transform both games and education with a new approach to learner motivation.

Languages available to learn in 2017 include Spanish, French, English and Japanese.

Ruby Rei is available for download for Apple or Android.

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