Interview on St. Louis Public Radio/NPR – Intensive Italian for Gamers

Game-Based Learning, Hidden Agenda, Non-serious gaming, NPR, PlayLink, PlayStation, St. Louis Public Radio, Video Game Localization, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning

Grazie/Thank you St. Louis Public Radio for your interview! The interview was broadcast today, April 17, 2019, and it is available at the following link:

https://www.kbia.org/post/slu-students-level-language-skills-video-game-based-italian-class?fbclid=IwAR3RvNwK9ZL14uKj_6ZK-3qqLupDuoCfXgSXZfRSnhhGEToF3gKrHHxRORo#stream/0

Thank you St. Louis Public Radio reporter Shahla Farzan for featuring my scholarship and teaching practices on video game-based foreign language learning at Saint Louis University!

Gamification and (Video) Game-Based Learning in the Second/Foreign Language Classroom – Roundtable Session at the AAIS 2019 Conference – Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

AAIS 2019, Game-Based Learning, Microsoft, Nintendo, Non-serious gaming, PlayStation, Sony, Switch, Video Game Localization, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning, Xbox

On Friday, March 15, 2019, I presented in the roundtable session “Gamification and (Video) Game-Based Learning in the Second/Foreign Language Classroom” at the American Association of Italian Studies Conference at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC with fellow Italianists Prof. Camilla Zamboni, Wesleyan University and Dr. Brandon Essary, Elon University. Prof. Zamboni talked about analog “AAA” games, board games and RPG’s, while Dr. Essary and I shared our developments on using “AAA” video game titles.
The session was very well attended and we received very positive feedback.

[Photo: Dr. Bregni (center) with co-panelists Prof. Camilla Zamboni, Wesleyan University, and Dr. Brandon Essary, Elon University]

My Interview with the National Museum of Language

Game-Based Learning, Microsoft, National Museum of Language, Nintendo, Non-serious gaming, PlayStation, Sony, Switch, Video Game Localization, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning, Xbox

Grazie/Thank you National Museum of Language for your interview! The interview was published on 3/19:

http://languagemuseum.org/interview-with-simone-bregni-professor-at-saint-louis-university/

I talk about my passion for language learning, video game-based learning with “AAA” titles and my methodology (Identify, Acquire, Create), my research and teaching practices at Saint Louis University, Intensive Italian for Gamers, Assassin’s Creed and Sega’s Shenmue as the best game to learn Japanese language and culture.

 

Presentation in the Session “Can AAA Games Be Used to Improve Education?” at the SXSW EDU Conference in Austin, TX – March 6, 2019

Game-Based Learning, Nintendo, Non-serious gaming, PlayStation, Sony, Switch, Video Game Localization, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning, Xbox

On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, I presented in the session “Can AAA Games Be Used to Improve Education?” at the SXSW EDU Conference in Austin, TX. The session was organized by Maxime Durand, Ubisoft’s historian in charge of the Assassin’s Creed series.
The session was very well received, with a lively Q&A session at the end, and very positive feedback.

https://schedule.sxswedu.com/2019/events/PP85160

Session Description:

Playing videogames has become an integral part of mankind’s cultural habits. A huge gap still divides “AAA” entertainment games (such as Assassin’s Creed) from “serious’’ games (games created by educators for specific educational purposes) in terms of appeal and defined learning objectives. Using data and sharing their own in-class experience, the panelists discussed how AAA games can help advance learning (formal and informal) for students at all stages of their education, from grade school to college.

It was a pleasure to present with Maxime Durand and Brian Stottlemyer, and I look forward to collaborating with them in the future.

Thank you Maxime Durand @TriFreako and @Ubisoft for a great professional opportunity!

Sega’s Shenmue: the Best Video Game Series for Japanese Language & Culture Acquisition?

Game-Based Learning, Microsoft, Non-serious gaming, PlayStation, Sony, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning, Xbox

My interview for the Italian video game online magazine/platform Multiplayer.it about one of my favorite video game series ever, Shenmue, and its value in terms of acquisition of Japanese language & culture, was published today:

https://multiplayer.it/articoli/shenmue-e-il-miglior-videogioco-per-comprendere-la-cultura-giapponese.html?fbclid=IwAR0ktOfQJpUn7OeQ57srn2SgH74oAIba8zbQNYXuP8RSFtf8NIQ6NDuVktM

An English translation of the article is available here:

View story at Medium.com

Thank you Emiliano Ragoni of multiplayer.it for your excellent article! And Arigato! Mr. Yu Suzuki for your gaming masterpiece!

In my recently-published scholarly article  “Using Video Games to Teach Italian Language & Culture: Useful, Effective, Feasible?” NEMLA Italian Studies XXXIX special issue “The Italian Digital Classroom: Italian Culture and Literature through digital tools and social media.” [available as a PDF download  (https://www.buffalo.edu/content/dam/www/nemla/NIS/XXXIX/NeMLA%20Italian%20Studies%202017%20-%20Using%20Video%20Games.pdf and in print], I also mention the Sega Shenmue series as an excellent learning device, the best, in my view, in terms of Japanese language and culture acquisition. The game includes Japanese and English audio tracks and subtitles. Lip-syncing is in Japanese. The first episodes is set in the Japanese town of Yokosuka,

The first game in the series was released in 1999 in Japan and in 2000 in the US and Europe on the Sega Dreamcast. Episode II was released in 2001 on the Sega Dreamcast, then ported in 2002 on the original Microsoft Xbox. The first two episodes in the series have been recently re-released (August 2018), updated in high-definition, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC. A third, new original episode is scheduled for release in late August 2019.

In my interview, I also discuss my methodology (IAC: Identify, Acquire, Create); my current work with the Assassin’s Creed series and future developments with Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey; and my participation at SXSW EDU in Austin in March 2019.

Image: Sega Shenmue – Sega AM2 – Creator Yu Suzuki. 

Technology for Teaching Vol. 2, Issue 2 (2018) – Faculty Feature Interview on Game-Based Learning

Game-Based Learning, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning

Grazie! / Thank you Saint Louis University Reinert Center for your video interview and feature for the Faculty Spotlight section of the current issue of Techology for Teaching, the Reinert Center Journal on Pedagogy, Educational Technology and Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies.

https://sites.google.com/slu.edu/technologyforteaching/faculty-spotlight?authuser=0

Distance Learning Seminar – University of Zurich – November 27, 2018

Non-serious gaming, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning

Today, November 27, 2018, I had the pleasure to deliver a distance-learning, one-hour seminar on video game-based learning for Dr. Sara Alloatti’s “Mediendidaktik für den Fremdsprachenunterricht” (Foreign Language Media Pedagogy), a graduate course for foreign language teachers at the Institute of Education Science in the University of Zurich, Switzerland:
https://www.ife.uzh.ch/de/llbm/personen.html
The interactive, multimedia-based seminar was conducted in real time over online platforms and included a Q&A session.
Many thanks (grazie mille!) to dr. Sara Alloatti for inviting me, and to her students for the interaction and feedback, which will assist me in furthering my research and project developments.

Teaching and Learning Days Conference at the Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt, Austria, June 6, 2018

VGBL in F/L2 Publications, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning

On June 6, 2018 I was invited at the Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt, Austria to present at their “Lehre und Lerntage”/Teaching and Learning Days E-Learning Conference. I delivered one presentation, “Video Games & Learning in Higher Education,” and two workshops, a general, multidisciplinary one on video game-based learning (VGBL) in Higher Education, and a practical workshop on VGBL in second/foreign language acquisition.

It was my first academic experience in Austria, and it was an absolutely fantastic one. The E-Learning Conference, celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the E-Learning Center at AAU, was very well organized (Vielen Dank Dr.in Gabriele Frankl, Dr.in Sabrina Brauneis & Team!). The Vice-Chancellor, Dr.in Doris Hattenberger, actively participated in the entire conference, and treated the invited speakers with genuine care and appreciation, well above the traditional professional standards. I was very impressed.

A video recording of my general audience VGBL presentation is available here:

 

Thank you/Grazie/Danke Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt!

“Using Video Games to Teach Italian Language & Culture: Useful, Effective, Feasible?” NEMLA Italian Studies XXXIX special issue “The Italian Digital Classroom.”

VGBL in F/L2 Publications, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning

I am very excited to announce that my article “Using Video Games to Teach Italian Language & Culture: Useful, Effective, Feasible?” NEMLA Italian Studies XXXIX special issue “The Italian Digital Classroom: Italian Culture and Literature through digital tools and social media.”, 2017, pp. 42-71, was published today, October 6, 2018. It is available as a PDF download  (https://www.buffalo.edu/content/dam/www/nemla/NIS/XXXIX/NeMLA%20Italian%20Studies%202017%20-%20Using%20Video%20Games.pdf) and in print.

This 30-page article is my most extensive contribution to the field of video game-based learning (with a focus on commercial, non-serious gaming) in second/foreign language acquisition to date. It is a practicum. While it focuses mainly on Italian as F/L2, the information and instructions provided can be applied/adapted to any major language/any language in which the games mentioned are localized. It also includes plenty of information on video games for use in ESL, Japanese as a foreign language & culture, and for K-12.

Many thanks to the editors Tania Convertini, Ph.D., Dartmouth College and Simona Wright, Ph.D., The College of New Jersey for this excellent opportunity.

Abstract

Video games are an integral part of life for our students. Some commercial video games are multi-media realia that can be used to enhance language acquisition both in and outside the classroom. Compared to other digital realia, they add opportunities for language exploration: direct interaction and agency; critical thinking and problem-solving; and a detailed narrative. This article presents a practicum for their use. Evidence that utilizing communicative video games can be conducive to F/L2 acquisition is provided, particularly focusing on the use of Assassin’s Creed II and Heavy Rain. Then, technical advice and best practices related to gaming in F/L2 acquisition are offered. Discussion of the development of an intensive language & culture course for gamers concludes the article.

The French Canadian Gaming Industry, Language Learning, Higher Education and the Job Market – A Project in St. Louis for 2019

Video Game Localization, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning

I am honored to have met today with Martin Dionne, cultural attaché of Québec in Chicago. I was invited by Dr. Lionel Cuillé, French professor and Jane and Bruce Robert Chair in French and Francophone Studies at Webster University in St. Louis.
Very happy to be involved in a project that involves Video Game-Based Learning in Second/Foreign Language Acquisition that is planned for fall 2019 here in St. Louis. The project, sponsored by the Government of Quebec, will include roundtables on Video Game-Based Language Learning, Higher Education and the job market in the French Canadian gaming industry.
The presence of companies such as Ubisoft, EA, Eidos, Bethesda, Square Enix, Warner Bros, makes the French-speaking Canadian province of Québec one of the leading regions for the gaming industry worldwide. Effective foreign language acquisition in Higher Education provides students with the necessary skills to attain fluency in other languages, which increases their opportunities in job markets throughout the gaming industry worldwide.
Glad to represent Saint Louis University and the Deparment of Languages, Literatures and Cultures on such an important project.

 

My Vision of a Multi-Disciplinary Academic Center for Video Game-Based Learning.

Multi-Disciplinary Academic Center for VGBL, Video Game-Based Language Learning, Video Game-Based Learning, Video Games in Foreign Language Teaching & Learning

For decades now, video games have been a pervasive part of our culture. About half of American adults play video games (Duggan, 2015), while 97% of teen boys and 83% of teen girls also play video games (Anderson & Jiang, 2018).
The potential for utilizing gaming in learning has been explored in a variety of fields, including language acquisition (e.g., Reinders, 2012). Some commercially available cinematic video games are fully-interactive multimedia experiences, Thus including such games in the curriculum as realia (Spurr, 1942; Dlaska, 2003) can help students reinforce, and expand upon, materials they learn through traditional methods. Realia reinforce foreign/second language (F/L2) acquisition through development of specific personal interests. Cinematic games, similar in nature to movies, also add agency, which improves learning (Deters et al., 2014). They also involve problem-solving and critical thinking that can be applied to group interaction, all of which is particularly conducive to learning (Wenger, 1998) and F/L2 acquisition (Nunan, 1992). Video games can contribute to the goal of transforming our students into life-long learners of (a) F/L2 language(s), a process explored by CALL (e.g., Smith, 1997).

As a professor of foreign languages, literature and culture, I have been experimenting with video game-based learning since 1998. In recent years, I have found that some highly communicative-oriented, cinematic video games to be effective in my classroom as supplements to more traditional teaching techniques, as a tool to reinforce vocabulary and grammatical forms, as a means to present authentic cultural data, and as a challenge for students to problem solve in their target language (TL). Games such as the main chapters in the Assassin’s Creed series (Ubisoft, 2007-2018. Currently, there are ten main “chapters” available in the series; eleven with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which is due for release in two weeks) are fully-interactive multimedia experiences combining real-time animation, speech/dialogue, subtitles, writing (textual interaction) and, in some cases, even spoken interaction, in the form of audio/video chat with other users. As a form of digital realia, artifacts in the TL that help enhance language acquisition, they can be used to reinforce and expand materials that have been previously learned through traditional methods (Bregni, 2018a & 2018b).

My own education, first for my Laurea in Italy, then during my Ph.D. studies at the University of Connecticut, has always been broad and interdisciplinary. I have a solid background in Classics, History, Medieval Studies, International Studies, Philosophy and Theology. Along with language, I have taught a variety of courses, from Medieval & Renaissance to contemporary literature, culture and cinema, all with a multidisciplinary approach that has yielded excellent results. Students have consistently indicated a very favorable evaluation and enjoyment of my approach to foreign language, culture and literature learning through a variety of digital media. I have made Computer Assisted Instruction (C.A.I.) a regular part of my teaching since 1997, implementing several different web and multimedia based activities.

Based on my research and teaching practices, video game-based learning (VGBL) is effective in augmenting and expanding knowledge that has been acquired through traditional methods. Research (mine, as well as that of others) indicates that playing video games involves a physical response from the body that increases acquisition and memorization (Total Physical Response (TPR) theory), adrenaline production, which has also been shown to increase learning, and captures the player’s focus and attention (Csikszentmihályi’s Flow theory). All of the above points in the direction of video games being a very effective learning device.

“Serious games” (including recent VR- and AR-based games) have been and are currently being developed in a variety of fields, including mathematics, the natural sciences and the social sciences. Some commercially-available games (such as Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Series, and Square-Enix Tomb Raider & Life is Strange series) are sophisticated, high-budget, highly-captivating products that can be used in a variety of fields (foreign languages/ESL, history, psychology and the social sciences), for K-12 (elementary/middle/high-school with some age-rating limitations) through university.

While there currently are Game-Based Learning Centers and Institutes at various institutions, their focus currently seems to be more centered on assisting faculty and staff in incorporating “classroom gamification tecniques.” They also seem to be more focused on “serious gaming.” Recent research on commercially-available games indicates that impact of such games on teaching and learning is substantial. Given that some AAA video gaming products (i.e. the Assassin’s Creed series) benefit from the contributions of scholars and experts in various fields (historians, psychologists, linguists, etc.) to produce multi-million-dollars “hyper-polished” consumer products, their impact can be potentially even greater, as research, mine as well as others, and teaching practices indicate.

A multi-disciplinary Academic Center for Video Game-Based Learning (possibly connected to a Game Design program) would gather scholars from multiple fields (in the Humanities and the Sciences) working together to explore the benefits of video game-based learning within and across fields. The Center would also research the implications of VGBL for different types of learners. For example, neurologist and neuropsychologists working with linguists to explore the impact of VGBL on students with disabilities and non-traditional learners. Should such a center/institute also include other forms of game-based learning? I believe so. Such a center should be multi-disciplinary and multi-focused because there is no reason to limit its potential. I have a working relationship with highly regarded colleagues who do meaningful research and teach with boardgames, RPG’s and theater-as-play (dramturgy) with whom I am happy to cooperate for multi-faceted approaches.

This is my vision.

“I firmly believe that learning should be fun. The fact that it is fun doesn’t take away from the seriousness — it’s just more effective!” Simone Bregni, Ph.D.

References

Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2018, May 13). Teens, Social Media & Technology
2018. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/
Assassin’s Creed II. (Ubisoft, 2007-2018). Official Website. Retrieved from
assassinscreed.ubi.com/en-gb/games/assassins-creed-2.aspx.
Asher, J. (1996). Learning another language through actions (5th ed.). Los
Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions.
Byram, M., ed. (2000). “Total Physical Response”. Routledge Encyclopedia of
Language Teaching and Learning. London: Routledge. 631–633.
Bregni, S. (2006). Enhancing language & culture through P2P. Academic
Exchange Quarterly, 10, 1, 33–37.
—. (2012). Using the iPod Touch to enhance language and culture
acquisition. Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, 4, 2, 81-90.
—. (2018a). Assassin’s Creed taught me Italian: Video games and the
quest for foreign language acquisition. Profession, the Journal of the Modern Language Association. Retrieved from https://profession.mla.hcommons.org/2018/03/22/assassins-creed-taught-me-italian/.
—. (2018b). Using video games to teach Italian language & culture:
Useful, effective, feasible? NEMLA Italian Studies XXXIX – The Italian digital classroom: Italian culture and literature through digital tools and social media. Forthcoming, fall 2018
Bruner, J. (1991). The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry, 18, 1,
1-21.
Chen, H.J.H., & Yang, T.Y.C. (2013). The impact of adventure video games
on foreign language learning and the perceptions of learners. Interactive Learning Environments, 21, 2, 129-141.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of
discovery and invention. New York, NY, USA: Harper Collins Publishers.
Cook, Vivian (2008). Second language learning and language teaching.
London: Hodder Education.
Deters, P., Gao, X., Miller, E.R., & Vitanova, G. (2014). Theorizing and
analyzing agency in second language learning. Bristol UK: Multilingual Matters.
Dlaska, A. (2016). Language learning in the university: creating content and
community in non-specialist programmes. Teaching in Higher Education, 8, 1, 103–113.
Farber M. (2017). Gamify your classroom: A field guide to game-based
Learning (2nd ed.). New York, New York, USA: Peter Lang.
Duggan, M. (2015, December 15). Gaming and gamers. Retrieved from
http://pewinternet.org/2015/12/15/gaming-and-gamers/
Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and
literacy. Basingstoke UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
—. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional
schooling. New York, NY, USA: Routledge, 2004.
—. (2005a). Good Video Games and Good Learning. Phi Kappa Phi
Forum, 85, 2, 33-37.
—. (2005b). Semiotic social spaces and affinity spaces: From the age of
mythology to today’s schools. In D. Barton & K. Tusting (Eds.), Beyond communities of practice: Language, power and social context, 214–232. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gee, J. P. & Hayes, E. (2009). Public pedagogy through video games:
Design, resources & affinity spaces. Game based learning. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20100820191022/http://www.gamebasedlearning.org.uk/content/view/59.
Gullberg, M. (2006). Some reasons for studying gesture and second language
Acquisition (Hommage à Adam Kendon). IRAL – International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 44, 2, 103–124.
Juul, J. 2001. “Games telling stories? – A Brief Note on Games and
Narratives.” GameStudies, 1, 1. Retrieved from gamestudies.org/0101/juul-gts/.
Kelly, S. D., Manning, S. M., & Rodak, S. (2008). Gesture gives a hand to
language and learning: Perspectives from cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology and education. Language and Linguistics Compass, 2, 4, 569-588.
Larsen-Freeman, D., & Anderson, M. (2011). Techniques and principles in
language teaching (3rd ed.). Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.
Lee, M. K., 2015, Effects of mobile phone-based app learning compared to
computer-based web learning on nursing students: pilot randomized controlled trial. Heathcare Informatic Research, 2, pp. 125-133. Retrieved from https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4434061/.
Mitchell, A, & Savill-Smith, C. (2004). The use of computer and video
games for learning. London UK: Learning and Skills Development Agency.
MyLanguageLabs. Retrieved from
https://pearsonmylabandmastering.com/northamerica/mylanguagelabs/
Neville, D (2009). In the classroom: Digital game-based learning in second
language acquisition. The Language Educator, vol. 4 (6), 47-51.
—. (2010). Structuring narrative in 3D digital game-based learning
environments to support second language acquisition. Foreign Language Annals vol. 43 (3), 446-469.
Nunan, D. (1992). Research methods in language learning. Cambridge; New
York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Polkinghorne, D. E. (1998). Narrative knowing and the human sciences.
Albany, NY, USA: State University of New York Press.
Pomerantz, A. (2012). Narrative approaches to SLA research. The
Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, Chapelle, C. A. (ed.), Hoboken, NJ, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0849.
Puentedura, R. (2010, October). “SAMR: A Brief Introduction.” Retrieved
from http://hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2015/10/SAMR_ABriefIntro.pdf.
—. (2012, September 3). “Building Upon SAMR.” Retrieved from
http://hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2012/09/03/BuildingUponSAMR.pdf.
Reinders, H. (2012). Digital games in language learning and teaching.
London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Sawyer, K. R. (2006). The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences.
Cambridge, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Smith, B. (1997). Virtual realia. The Internet TESL Journal vol. 3 (7).
Retrieved from iteslj.org/Articles/Smith-Realia.html.
Sørensen, B. H., & Meyer, B. (2007). Serious Games in language learning and
teaching – A theoretical perspective. Proceedings of the 2007 Digital Interactive Games Research Association conference. 559–566. Tokyo: Digital Interactive Games Research Association.
Spurr, F. S. (1942). Realia in foreign language courses. The Modern Language Journal, vol. 26, 174–176.
Sykes, J., & Reinhardt, J. (2012). Language at play: Digital games in second
and foreign language teaching and learning. New York, NY, USA: Pearson.
Thomas, M., & Reinders, H. (2010). Task-based language learning and
teaching with technology. London, UK/New York, NY, USA: Continuum.
Yeh, X., Anderson, T. A., Huang G. & Reynolds, B.L. (2008). Video Games
in the English as a Foreign Language Classroom. Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning, IEEE International Workshop on(DIGITEL), 00 , 188-192.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, identity.
New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.