I. language skills, the applied language teaching
I. IntroductionLearning foreign languages has always been a rather complex process, which is proven by the numerous theories the field of second language acquisition has. Language acquisition depends on a number of factors which all play a significant role in the outcome of the linguistic knowledge a language learner will have, such factors are for instance the learner’s environment, learning or teaching methods applied, the learner’s attitude towards the language, the learner’s preferences or motivation etc.
Since languages are being taught, the optimization of language education is the primary goal in schools, so that each student can achieve a maximum linguistic knowledge in the most efficient way possible. Due to the vast number of factors that can shape the acquired language skills, the applied language teaching methods by schools are quite diverse. For the best result, more and more schools are leaning towards keeping up with the newest language teaching methods, for instance shaping teaching into a student-centred one, applying personalized tasks, being more creative or employing digital technologies.
In the 21st century, everything is about digitalizing, the digital technology is improving quickly and is extremely pervasive, for instance, now digital photo frames are just as average as booking a doctor’s appointment online. Meanwhile, the already existing technological devices that we use every day are improved constantly. This technological revolution manifests itself in the field of education as well, as digital learning materials created for language learning are frequently employed, such as online learning material, multimedia content or various mobile applications, even the usage of social media. Mobile and computer-directed applications are rather useful for linguistic education, because nowadays there are applications specifically designed to help the learning process, like vocabulary-enhancing applications, applications that help in practicing the reading or listening skills, but there are applications that allow practicing different, not directly linguistic related skills as creating a newspaper article or a subtitle for a video while also improving language skills. Some of these applications are games, which, if students use them, contribute to the success of the language learning while increasing the efficiency of the process. The same idea is behind these gaming applications that seem like simple games not intended for educational purposes at all but still contributing to it anyway through student usage.
Out of the above-mentioned language learning factors, motivation is a highly relevant one, which, if it accompanies the learning process, can be its great contributor, and in the opposite case, if it is absent, can cause a failed attempt at successful language acquisition. While failure might be discouraging, success will support pupils in the learning process. This is why it is essential to provide learning opportunities that affect students’ motivation in a positive way. Information and communication technology and games are supposedly good for providing sufficient motivation for the students, which will be examined later on. Summarizing the previously mentioned issues, the primary focus of this thesis is foreign language teaching with the help of information and communication technology (in short: ICT) with a special emphasis on the above-mentioned usage of games, in other words, gamification. The relationship between applying gamification and motivation is examined, such as the feeling of success as a consequence of gamification.
Therefore, the thesis will examine if gamification is motivating for students or not, whether it helps in creating the feeling of success for pupils or not, and finally, if by applying gamification students can be taught more efficiently, such as for instance broadening their vocabulary in a quicker and better way than without ICT. Consequently, these below are the three hypotheses that will be investigated: 1. Applying ICT, especially gamification in second language teaching can lead to increased student motivation and cooperation2. Applying ICT, especially gamification in second language teaching can create a feeling of success for students3. Applying ICT, especially gamification in second language teaching can contribute to the development of certain linguistic skills indirectly, such as broadening of vocabulary, by influencing student motivation and cooperation A primary research will be carried out in order to get answers to the hypotheses, which will consist of an online questionnaire designed for secondary school students learning foreign languages and an interview for the teachers.
Besides, one of the interviewee’s class will be visited for further observation and analysis of ICT in the classroom. Both the questionnaire and the interview, together with the analysis of the visit will attempt to highlight the ICT and gamification applied in the second language classroom, the topic of student motivation and the efficiency of language learning or teaching with ICT. Teachers will be asked about their ICT usage in the classroom and the way they relate to it, giving them a chance to express their opinion on the subject matter too, for instance, whether they think ICT in education is useful or not, or if they prefer its application or not. Students will be asked to answer questions directed towards their own ICT usage and the application of ICT in the classroom, inquiring about motivation, success, learning efficiency and such. Based on the answers of both parties, comparing how the teachers feel and how the students’ perceive ICT and second language teaching will be easy, and the results will assist in shedding light to the hypotheses as well.
First, the thesis will discuss the basic second language acquisition and second language learning theories, which will be followed by exploring the role of motivation in the language learning process. After that, the various types of ICT utilized in education, especially in foreign language teaching, will be explored presenting the most popular ones and discussing the concept of gamification. Then, the thesis will focus on the methodology, explaining how the participants of the questionnaire and the interviews were chosen, why these types of methodological inquiries were chosen, what the main aspects were that defined the questions utilized in both and similar issues also. After that, the answers provided to the questionnaire and to the interviews will first be presented and then analysed thoroughly. Comparing and contrasting the answers provided to the questionnaire and to the interviews will help in deciding whether the hypotheses are valid or not, which will be explained in the last chapter of the thesis.