MMORPGs help you learn English. And it’s not a joke

Massively multiplayer online games have conquered millions of people. And for many, they have become much more than just entertainment after work or school. This is a real second life.

With the help of MMORPGs, you can pump your social skills and even learn English. Korean scientists have proven this. In this post, we’ll share our research and offer three top online games with strong communities to improve your English playfully.

MMORPG Teaches English Better Than Lessons At School

In 2010, researchers from Chuncheon University, one of the top 5 universities in Korea, conducted a large-scale study of how online games affect foreign language learning. Using the example of elementary school students, they tested the hypothesis that MMORPGs help to learn English.

You can view the full study here

Online gaming is a promising environment for developing social skills and learning new things. And that’s why:

  1. MMORPG provides maximum engagement in the gameplay, immersing the user in a full-fledged ecosystem of the language. But at the same time, the player is in the very center of events, actively participating in the development of the plot, which greatly affects his motivation. The player participates in quests and events, studies the history of the world and characters – the English language is a tool here, not a goal.

  2. Online games improve cognitive skills. Earlier it was found that MMORPGs enhance critical thinking, learnability, and problem-solving skills. The reward system for efforts also plays a big role. Rewards in the form of experience and useful items after completing a task motivate you to take new quests and solve problems.

  3. In MMORPG, the system of alliances and clans is extremely important – in-game associations of players. Discussions of the game, farming resources, negotiations with other clans, social institutions and pumping, joint events and complex quests – there are a lot of communication options. Communication is provided using chats or game servers, for example, in Diskord. Moreover, in large alliances, they often communicate using audio and video communications. MMORPGs are played all over the world, so English is considered the most common language among the clans. More people know it corny than other languages.

To test the hypothesis, the researchers analyzed the learning experiences of 302 grade 5 and 6 students from several mainstream schools in Korea. In the course of the study, approximately 76 students’ experience was found to be not representative due to irregularities in the study process.

A group of 118 students improved their English skills in MMORPG, while a control group of 102 students took classical lessons with a teacher.

The experiment itself took 2 months.

The experimental group did not study according to the classical system. Instead, the students were turned on MMORPGs. Especially for this study, a curriculum was developed inside an online game to develop writing, reading and listening skills.

As part of the educational process, the students were united in play groups (“parties”) and sent to go through quests. Some of the educational quests were specially created on closed servers in order to enhance the result – within the framework of the gameplay. In these quests, the researchers recreated the principles of repetition of educational material in the game mode.

A certain number of new words were already laid in the quest, and in the course of its execution they were repeated. All completed tasks were rewarded with experience and loot, as well as more difficult tasks.

This is how the diagram of the teaching system for the study of learning English with the help of MMORPG looked like.

At the end of the two-month experiment, all participants passed the final test. And it turned out that MMORPG really helps to learn English faster than the standard program.

The greatest improvement in listening skills in the experimental group. The dynamics of improvements is almost two times higher than that of the control group. Reading and writing improved markedly, and speaking was on par with the control group.

And the main reason researchers emphasize is interactivity and involvement in the process. The student does not just perform exercises, but also completes game quests. It is this ecosystem that makes it possible to multiply the results of the study.

Interestingly, the researchers did not include alliances and clans in the theory at all. Probably, they considered it a fair amount of overkill to allow children to learn the living language of online games, where there can be not only colloquial phrases, but also obscene expressions.

But the researchers do not say on the basis of which MMORPG they were analyzing. Therefore, we have selected for you three popular online games in which you can definitely pump your English.

EVE Online

Legendary space MMORPG with a huge universe and over eight million players. Moreover, more than half a million enter the game every day.

The main English value of this online game is its very powerful player communities and alliances.

A full-fledged gaming experience can only be obtained in a clan. Therefore, there are not so many solo players here – mostly those who rarely enter. Users with a stable online environment quickly find themselves in one of the alliances.

The game has a fully functioning internal system of the market economy, which forces associations to fight for resources, trade routes, and defend the territory.

Therefore, there is a lot of communication within the clans. Up to the point that there are real positions of treasurers and businessmen, who are paid a real salary (not in game currency, but in money).

So if the universe seems interesting enough to you to play for a long time, then in such an alliance you can effortlessly improve your conversational language skills and learn a bunch of useful information from completely different areas: technology, military affairs, economics, industry, cosmology and many others.

There are many native English speakers among the players, so be prepared for the most conversational examples of speech possible. Here is one example of “inspiring speech” in one of the major clans:

So, just to join a large alliance, you need to play quite a lot of hours there and speak English at least at the Intermediate level.

Runescape

Fantasy MMORPG, which bears the title of the largest online game in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. Over the 20 years of its existence, over 250 million accounts have been registered in it.

And even despite its impressive age and already the third reform of the game, Runescape gathers more than 1.2 million people online every day. And in the Old School version there is even more – over 2 million unique items per day.

The game has an extensive lore that goes far beyond its borders. A whole series of books have been written on it, so if you penetrate, there will be something to read.

To learn English, you should pay attention to the system of skills and subjects – there are a lot of opportunities inside and with their help you can normally pump your vocabulary. And the in-game communication system will help improve your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Although for a full-fledged game, you need a language level of at least Intermediate.

One of the examples of quests. The grammar is quite simple, but complex words and phrasal verbs come across.

The community of the game is very active. It is interesting that despite the young audience (more than half of the players are under 18), many old-timers still play it, who caught the very first version. Therefore, there are more than enough interesting interlocutors here. Especially in the Old School version of the game. We even recommend trying it, because graphonium is practically irrelevant here. The main thing is interesting communication and great gaming experience.

The Elder Scrolls Online

There are many opinions about this game. Some consider it a worthy successor to the TES series, others – a complete failure. But for pumping the English language, it is useful.

The main value here is the vast lore. There is a huge amount of written materials about the world inside the game and even more – in the communities and on the official sites.

It will take months to read it in full. It attracts the fact that it is written literary and implemented in the gameplay, so in the course of completing the tasks you will have to learn a lot. This is not just dry quest data, but a full-fledged interesting fiction story.

Online here is also decent – more than 1.2 million visitors per day and almost 18 million registered users.

“Gazebo” invests enormous resources to make the game beautiful not only in terms of graphics, but also history. Guides, videos, arts, music, broadcasts – there is just a lot of content. Choose the format you like best. And it’s better to do everything at once – so at the same time you can pump your understanding of a living language, and reading, and vocabulary. But TES requires a fairly high level of English – at least Upper-Intermediate, and better – Advanced. Then you will definitely be imbued with the lore in full.

Here is an example of the gameplay of the game. The English voice acting is very good, so we advise you to listen to the lines in full.

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Games were and still are one of the most effective ways to learn. And English can also be learned with great success through gamification. Sign up for a free lesson and check it out.

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