Acquiring English Vocabulary Through Virtual Worlds : Exploring the connection between Norwegian EFL lower secondary pupils’ gaming habits, essay grades and written lexical richness in light of their attitudes
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The purpose of this study is to investigatethe connection between Norwegian lower secondary pupils’ gaming habits,their essay grades and their written lexical richness in English, as well as to offer gamers’ attitudes towards gaming and language learning. A mixed method approach was applied in order to address three research questions focusing on the participants’ lexical richness, their grades and their attitudes toward learning through gaming. Data were collected from 14 Norwegianlower secondary pupils, with a total of 20 (6 from year 8, 14 from year 9) essays. Six of the participantstook part of the study both in year 8 and 9. Three methods were used to answer the research questions. First, all essays fromyear 9 wererun through Cobb’s (2019) Compleat VPtoolto find measures of lexical diversity, lexical sophistication and lexical density, which, in this study, are defined as measures of lexical richness. Statistical tests were runinSPSS for Macintosh (v. 25; SPSS Inc, Chicago II, USA) todiscover possible differences in lexical richness and grades in correlation to time spent gaming. Following, a qualitative corpus analysis of 12 texts was conducted to see what lies behind the quantitative numbers. Finally, six semi-open interviews were conducted with the aim to elicit the participants’ attitudes towards gaming and learning with their longitudinal aspects in mind. No results concerning the correlation between the amount of time the participants spent gaming and their written lexical richness were deemed statistically significant, arguably because of the lack of a larger dataset. However, both data from the quantitative andqualitative corpus analysesrevealed that there isastatistically significant positive correlation between the amount of time the participants spent gaming and their English essay grades. The findings from the mixed methods also suggest that large amounts of time spent gaming arebeneficial to other aspectsof the student’s English proficiency, such as greater self-confidence when speaking English and creativity when writing. In addition, findings concerning the motivation behind gaming suggest thatteachers of Englishas aForeign Language(EFL)in Norway should be aware of and implement activities either in the classroom or as homework in order to enhance some of the students’ motivation for learning English as a second language. Furthermore,some of the informants in the interviews reported a desire for more gaming centered or open school writing tasks, as they believe it would give them a greateropportunity to show knowledge gained by gaming.