Implementing Gamification into Learner-Centered Strategies in Language Classes

Accommodating learners’ differences, needs, and goals is important in implementing learner-centered instruction (Marpaung & Widyanotoro, 2020). When teachers are giving similar treatments to learners with different backgrounds, they won’t be able to learn optimally as it may not be following their preferences. This obstructs their learning process, and any strategy proposed by the educator.

Educators of today must know that when they provide ‘unvaried’ teaching to students, they will not get the chance to get to know themselves and eventually will let go of why they came to study in the first place. (Marpaung & Widyanotoro, 2020). In other words, they’d more likely revolt against the strategies used in classrooms, regardless of how they could benefit from it. Above that, denying individual differences can disadvantage a particular side and benefit the other at the same time (Pietrzykowska, 2014).

The learner-centered instruction itself defines communicative language learning, where the ability to express ideas fluently in a ‘real-life’ communication (Brown, 2000) is considered as language mastery. Known also as the student-centered learning, the approach focuses solely on the learning process: what and how the student is learning, their learning condition, and whether they’re retaining and applying the learning outcomes or not (Wang & Winstead, 2016).

What are the challenges?

Challenges have been noted in learning foreign languages. For instance, speaking is known as one of the biggest challenges for Indonesian EFL learners (Marpaung & Widyanotoro, 2020). Educators would answer the challenge by doing interviews, debates, and even in-class role-playing (Rianingsih, 2015). But at times, this method is not enough, because there are other aspects that learners need to master besides speaking, such as writing, listening, and comprehension.

The type of methods used by educators—whether it be the traditional method or through mobile learning applications, is significantly influencing students’ attitudes towards learning a new language (Nami, 2020). This means that the platforms used, how they are used, and all its details matter most in the classroom. Any favorable and unfavorable elements can influence how students receive information.

What gamification brings to the table.

It’s evident that technology has been a part of education for quite some time, with the importance of using mobile devices and educational applications have increased continuously (Symonenko et al., 2020). For instance, the application of VR technologies in language learning has been recognized as ‘beneficial’ for Paul Driver, as it can “link learning with the demanded context and makes learning activities situated.” (Symonenko et al., 2020).

Recent studies indicate that immersing oneself completely is the most effective way to learn a foreign language (Symonenko et al., 2020). According to the finding, complete immersion will lead to improved communication skills, better pronunciation, and an increased student’s vocabulary list.

There are alternative ways to learn a language, besides taking abroad courses and international projects. One of which is through audio and video-based problem situations and business games (Symonenko et al., 2020). The last method is often referred to as Gamification, applying game elements into a non-game context (Deterding, 2011)

However,  gamification requires meticulous preparation, demanding highly qualified teachers. But then again, professional-oriented educators and business games are always welcomed by students (Symonenko et al., 2020)

One of the most substantial aspects of using game methods in classrooms as a whole is motivation, as it is one of the main driving forces in human behavior and independent activity (Symonenko et al., 2020). This is highly achievable with gamification, as the method has been proved to not only increase students’ motivation within the course but also stimulate students’ creative problem-solving skills.

Aside from bringing positive influence to students’ motivation, Symonenko et al. (2020) mentioned that gamification is an active form of training, where students are deeply involved in the process all the time. This will certainly improve their participation rate at the end of the day, as their result will be deeply influenced by how ‘involved’ they are in the process.

On top of everything, gamification benefits the educators by giving them a purposive method to engage with their students, to retain their interest further (Buzko et al., 2018).

Symonenko et al. (2020) stated that practicing a foreign language in an engaging virtual environment enables students to be a part of the professionally-oriented communication that could occur in reality.

Cover Photo by Buro Millennial from Pexels
Buzko, V.L., Bonk, A.V., Tron, V.V.: Implementation of Gamification and Elements of Augmented Reality During the Binary Lessons in a Secondary School. In: Kiv, A.E., Soloviev, V.N. (eds.) Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Augmented Reality in Education (AREdu 2018), Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, October 2, 2018. CEUR Workshop Proceedings 2257, 53–60. (2018).
Deterding, S., Sicart, M., Nacke, L., & O’Hara, K. (2011). Gamificaiton: using game design elements in non-gaming contexts. Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2011, Extended Abstracts Volume, Vancouver, BC, Canada, May 7-12, 2011
Marpaung, D. V., & Widyanotoro, A. (2020). EFL learners’ big five personalities, language learning strategies, and speaking skills. Indonesian Journal of EFL and Linguistics, 5(1),
Nami, F. (2020). Educational smartphone apps for language learning in higher education: Students’ choices and perceptions. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 36(4), 82-95
Symonenko, S. V., Zaitseva, N. V., Osadchyi, V. V., Osadcha, K. P., & Shmeltser, E. O. (2020). Virtual reality in foreign language training at higher educational institutions. Retrieved September 8 2020 on
Wang, C. & Winstead, L. (2016). Handbook of research on foreign language education in the digital age. Retrieved September 8, 2020 on

Lintang Tiara

Lintang Tiara