Speech-based Game Interfaces for L2 Learning

Leveraging an NSF EAGER grant (1757397 Computer-based Social Interactions that Facilitate Language Learning), we design second language L2 learning games that feature speech-based interfaces to promote vocabulary acquisition, listening comprehension skills and other aspects of SLA in the targeted language. Our goal is to engage underrepresented populations in the gaming industry (i.e., people of color) in the design and evaluation of L2 games employing user-centered design techniques to elicit input and feedback throughout the game design cycle (Rankin & Edwards, 2017; Rankin, 2016).

Underserved Population: African Americans are largely underrepresented in the gaming industry and within the gaming subculture, and yet African Americans do play video games. However, less is known about their gaming preferences or practices, rendering them invisible within the gaming subculture.

For the purpose of understanding how to better design language learning video games that appeal to a diverse group of students, we examine high school and college students’ and gameplay experiences in a conversation-based Spanish language learning video game. Student evaluations reveal that the majority of students had a positive gameplay experience. However, students criticized the game for its lack of diversity, including a lack of diverse game characters, missed opportunities to integrate aspects of Spanish culture into game tasks and the inability to customize the gameplay experience. Qualitative analysis of students’ suggestions provides insights into designing inclusive gaming environments that promote language learning.