In the modern era, English has risen to become a global language and is now the most widely spoken language worldwide. With over 350 million native speakers and 430 million individuals who have learned it as their second language (L2), the ability to communicate in English can greatly benefit individuals in this age of globalization. English stands as the predominant language globally, serving as the go-to means for expressing views, facilitating communication, and sharing opinions across diverse cultures (Eaton, 2010; Pandian et al., 2011). English has empowered people from all corners of the world to seamlessly communicate with one another and has become a rich source of knowledge in the current era of technology and science.
There are various schools of thought on the most effective way to teach grammar to students. As researchers seek a deeper understanding of language instruction, studies are challenging previously unquestioned assumptions about effective teaching methods.
Text by: Eftychia Vrouva
Effective teaching of English grammar can significantly enhance the linguistic development and progression of language learners by organizing their language skills systematically and critically (Larsen-Freeman, 2001). When sufficient emphasis is placed on both structure and meaning, students become capable of acquiring language skills efficiently to achieve their intended learning outcomes. Language learning is profoundly influenced by one's grasp of grammar. Pagcaliwagan (2016) asserted that consistent exposure to grammar improves English learners' ability to use it. Studies have demonstrated that grammar skills are essential for L2 language learners seeking to enhance their proficiency. In the past, educators have employed the grammar-translation method, which involves using the learner's native language to decipher the meaning of terms in the target language. However, experts researching L2 acquisition have been debating which grammar teaching method to employ for the past four decades, with language instructors themselves holding differing views. While some believe that the most effective way to teach grammar is through implicit instruction, focusing on structure, others advocate explicit teaching of grammatical rules along with a strong emphasis on structural aspects.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education is now a fundamental component of our students' learning journey, with a clear interdisciplinary focus aimed at promoting the integration of various scientific disciplines. Due to its nature, the STEM approach is highly practical and geared towards addressing real-world problems, applying theoretical knowledge to solve them. Creating an engaging learning environment thus becomes a challenge for educators, who must ensure that students not only progress effectively but also undertake tasks that captivate and involve them (Martín-Páez et al., 2019).
Moreover, we are currently undergoing significant social and cultural transformations. There is a clear need to equip students with the necessary language skills to effectively navigate a multilingual and multicultural society. This challenge, which the educational world has enthusiastically embraced, has led to a growing appreciation of the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach as a resource for enhancing language learning in the school environment. CLIL is defined as a new educational paradigm in which the target language is learned through real-life, everyday situations, actively applying the language in the study of other common subjects, such as Natural Sciences or History. In essence, CLIL blends subject matter study with language learning (Martínez, 2019).
The flipped classroom is a valuable approach to implement in the grammar classroom as it offers more effective active learning opportunities, strengthens the role of the teacher, utilizes time more efficiently, enhances peer learning, provides greater control over content delivery, allows for the observation of knowledge assimilation, and enables students to learn on demand (Alias, 2010).
Online games or digital games come in various forms, including different numbers of players and genres. Digital games encompass a wide range of types and categories, from individual to large groups and from educational to fantasy (Kim, Song, and Burton, 2018; Chun, Kern, and Smith, 2016). Additionally, a "language game is a game with rules that have linguistic objectives and are agreed upon by the participants" (Ibrahim, 2016, p. 54). Therefore, online language games introduce the concept of a competitive platform that incorporates linguistic elements into a game.
Games are known to be effective in education. The primary reason games are successful tools for learning is that they provide a competitive platform for students to actively engage in the learning process (Mekler, Rank, Steinemann, and Iacovides, 2016; Bullard and Anderson, 2014). This means that many teachers nowadays prefer using more stimulating methods of delivering their lessons, as opposed to the traditional lecture method. Concepts and real-world experiences can be achieved through games, proving to be an effective learning tool (Hashim, 2018; Santhanam, Liu, and Shen, 2015). As educators in the 21st century, transforming a classroom into a digital learning environment is crucial.
In this fast-paced world, education is a fundamental aspect of an individual's life. The global revolution has also impacted the field of education, moving towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where 21st-century learning aims to develop well-rounded individuals through education. The new Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) integrated into primary and secondary schools seeks to enhance English proficiency among younger students. "The transformation globally shapes students as proficient language users to enable them to fully participate in both professional and academic settings from schools up to tertiary level and also in teacher training" (Azman, 2016, p. 67). This curriculum aims to provide standardized learning for students.
Gamified learning is effective in achieving grammar proficiency. Students can achieve better results when learning grammar through online language games. Some factors contributing to positive academic achievement include motivation and enjoyment. An online language game is inherently enjoyable, which motivates students to engage with it. When students are interested in playing, their confidence and belief in their ability to learn language increase. The traditional method of teaching is not conducive to ESL (English as a Second Language) students. This naturally inclines students towards learning language through online games.
In conclusion, as students hold a positive attitude towards learning ESL grammar, they benefit from it by achieving improved results. Therefore, teachers should start incorporating online language games in ESL grammar instruction. It is essential for educators to effectively integrate technology into their teaching methods for productive learning outcomes. Overall, with the rapid advancement of technology and devices, ESL students stand to gain significantly through gamified learning.