Digital gaming and language learning: Autonomy and community

Alice Chik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between digital game play and second language (L2) learning is a particularly tricky issue in East Asia. Though there is an emerging presence of Chinese online games, many more young people are playing the English- or Japanese-language versions of the most popular commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) video games. In other words, most Chinese gamers are playing L2 digital games in their leisure time. Informed by research on out-of-class L2 learning, this paper discusses findings from an exploratory study investigating L2 gaming and learning practices in young people's everyday lives. Drawing on rich data from gaming sessions, stimulated recall, focus group discussion, individual interviews and online discussion forums, this paper argues that gamers exercise autonomy by managing their gameplay both as leisure and learning practices in different dimensions (location, formality, locus of control, pedagogy and trajectory). At the same time, gameplay-as-learning practices are supported by wider communities of digital gamers who take on roles as language teachers and advisers. The paper suggests that activities in these dimensions mediated learning autonomously and from community, and discusses the research and pedagogical implications for L2 gaming and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-100
Number of pages16
JournalLanguage Learning and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer-assisted language learning
  • Learner autonomy
  • Second language acquisition


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