The significance of gamification can be better understood if we realize that the human brain have a natural tendency to stay away from those situations where it feels threatened or bored. Unfortunately, language classes can sometimes be boring for learners, especially for young learners. This is why when children, and even adults, are sitting in a classroom and watching a teacher who is giving a lecture and asking them to copy from the board, they easily lose their concentration and get distracted. Incorporating some colors, activities, and excitement into the same lesson will allow the teacher to keep learners of all ages focused and help them to learn the same material in a more interesting and interactive way.
All learning environments should encourage active and critical learning, not passive learning. Game based learning provides this ideal environment. The best games are those that actively engage learners, so that they experience the pleasure of exploring and understanding a new system. Well designed games, played in a variety of ways, using different media and platforms, can pierce distractions and engage learners in a way that few other methods can. Games can take the form of word play, language play, narrative and role play, as well as digital platforms. Gamification can be used at nearly all ages and language levels – from those acquiring literacy skills, practising listening and speaking skills, to enhancing critical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as developing digital literacy skills. The beauty of play in the learning environment is that learners develop autonomy quickly and can self correct easily, with a minimum of emotional stress. There is a clear path of progression and learners can learn at their own pace.
Badges and points are a great concept that promotes learning, especially when we are trying to personalize the process and enable each learner to make progress according to their own capacity. When they look at the badges they have earned, the learners will understand their own progress and potential, and they will try harder to get better. They can earn a badge when they achieve a particular goal, but the gaming experience is enhanced when we allow our students to unlock unexpected badges. For example, if a student hands in a homework assignment with no spelling mistakes, we can announce the big surprise that s/he has unlocked the “Spelling Bee” badge. Gamifying and grading don’t work well together. Grades remind people of work, where points remind people of games. We can show what level students have achieved once they reach a certain amount of points in the same way that karate learners earn different belt colors as they progress.
Games promote learners’ interaction. Pair or group work is one of the main ways to increase cooperation. Many games can be played in pairs or in small groups, thereby providing an opportunity to develop their interpersonal skills such as the skill of disagreeing politely or the skill of asking for help. In the classroom learners will definitely participate in the activities. Therefore, in groups or in pairs, they are more willing to ask questions, communicate and discuss topics with their partners and think creatively about how to use foreign language to achieve their goals. The competition in the games gives learners a natural opportunity to work together and communicate with each other a lot. Games improve learners’ language acquisition. Thanks to the motivation and interaction created by games, learners can acquire knowledge faster and more effectively than by other means. Games can stimulate and encourage learners to participate in the activity since they naturally want to win. Apart from having fun, students are learning. They acquire a new language. Learnerss begin to realize that they have to use the language if they want others to understand what they are saying. Furthermore, games can lower anxiety. In the easy, relaxed atmosphere which is created by using games, learners remember things faster and better.