the international language association

Thomas Kelly

"Gamification": Virtual worlds for 
language teachers and for CLIL?

This presentation on Gamification and machinima for language learning/teaching and CLIL will introduce participants to the world of Gamification, leading to discussion on its possible use in language teaching and learning and the possible use of machinima. "Gamification” is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users' self contributions."


One of the chief problems encountered in the introduction of video games in FLT & FLL is the lack of knowledge of and familiarity of language teachers with virtual worlds. The amount of time and effort many teachers require to familiarise themselves with techniques and technology necessary for satisfactory deployment of virtual world environments in their teaching often intimidates many teachers, particularly those with heavy teaching schedules.

Perhaps a comparison may be made here with introducing potential language teachers to the skills of language teaching with or without a textbook. Obviously, it is much easier for teachers to approach the task of language teaching, if they have a whole array of ready-made materials available which will include material with which they can introduce and exercise the necessary skills for language acquisition.

One would hardly expect each and every language teacher to develop his/her own, individual language teaching textbook, with all the necessary elements (exercises, mini dictionary, audiovisual materials, etc., etc.) Here, it is important to remember that using a language teaching/learning textbook does not mean that teachers have to follow the content slavishly, but may adapt materials, exercises etc. to the perceived needs of their learners.

The use of ready-made games to introduce language teachers to the world of machinima can fulfil a similar function to that of the standard textbook, provided that the games chosen expose learners to a wide variety of examples of language use, suited to the needs, wishes and level of the learners.

Professionally produced materials in the world of video games can be aesthetically pleasing, both in terms of visuals and in terms of the language they may generate. Manipulation of the avatars is fairly straightforward, as parts of their actions have been automated.

The purpose of this webinar is to illustrate how attractive, widely used video games may be profitably deployed in the field of language teaching/learning to stimulate interest in the use of this genre in language learning and language teaching, providing novices with ready-made materials which may be adapted to the particular needs of different learning groups.


Tom Kelly is a coordinate bilingual in German and English. His (German) mother is a medical doctor and his (Australian) father is a retired teacher, with extensive experience of teaching a wide range of pupils and students in a number of geographical settings, most often within the context of international schools.

Tom studied computer sciences at the University of Frankfurt. During his course of studies, he worked on a part-time basis for German Railways (Deutsche Bahn - DB), chiefly as a programmer and designer of programs designed to solve logistical problems. After graduation in 2015, he was taken on by DB on a full-time basis.

He has been playing computer games since the age of three, when his grandfather introduced him to this genre. He has also designed his own computer games, and continues to follow developments in this area.

His webinar will introduce language colleagues to a range of videogames which he believes will be of interest to those engaged in the area of language learning and language teaching. He does not profess to be an expert in the area of language learning and teaching, but looks forward to lively discussions with language professionals with reference to the potential that gamification has for language learning and language teaching, and as an introduction to virtual worlds for language teachers.


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