Game-based learning for second language acquisition in higher education




Game based learning, systematic literature review, second languages, higher education


Digital games offer a promising platform to engage students in second language practice. Recently, leading academics have made research contributions on the benefits of game-based learning. Hence, this study aims to gather empirical findings that shed light on the effectiveness of games in second language learning. To do this, a systematic literature review of scientific articles indexed in Web of Science and Scopus has been carried out, considering various inclusion/exclusion criteria. In total, ten scientific articles that meet all the inclusion/exclusion criteria have formed the sample and have served to answer the research questions posed. After a thorough analysis, evidence on both the pedagogical implications of digital game-based learning in second language acquisition and the effects of this form of learning on the development of skills and/or linguistic aspects stands out. Based on the results, it can be concluded that it is important for teachers to select games according to the type of competences they want to work on so that learning is meaningful and motivating. To this end, it is necessary for teachers to promote opportunities for interaction between peers that encourage second language practice and to offer additional help to students who have never played the game selected for second language learning.



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Author Biography

Alicia González Pérez, Universidad de Extremadura

Alicia González-Pérez is "Profesora Titular" in the Teacher Training College at University of Extremadura. She got Doctorate Award (2014) and PhD with European Mention in Education (2011) by University of Seville. She studied Pedagogy in Salamanca University (Spain) and she continued her studies in Dankook University (South Korea).

She has been collaborating  with some prestige foreign universities as: Artevelde University (Bélgica), Università di Torino (Italia),Nord University (Norway), Universisty of Algarve and University of Coimbra (Portugal),  Cag University (Turkey), Dankook University (South Korea), Bath Spa University (United Kingdom), Universidad del Estado de Santa Catarina - UDESC (Brazil) y Nesna University College (Norway).

 She has been collaborated and participated in different International, European, National and Autonomous projects. She was Coordinator of MILAGE Project: Interactive Mathematics by implementing a Blended-Learning model with Augmented Reality and Game books funded by the European Union (2015-2018).

She is author of several National and International journal articles, book chapters and a books published in prestigious journals and editorials, about educational policies with ICT, educational innovation, educational technology, digital competence, and gender.


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Casañ-Pitarch, R. (2017a). Language for specific purposes and graphic-adventure video-games: Supporting content and language learning. Obra Digital, 13, 169-183.

Casañ-Pitarch, R. (2017b). Storyline-based videogames in the FL classroom. Digital Education Review, (31), 80-92.

Casañ-Pitarch, R. (2018). An Approach to Digital Game-based Learning: Video-games Principles and Applications in Foreign Language Learning. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 9(6), 1147-1159.

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Chen, C.-M., Liu, H., & Huang, H.-B. (2019). Effects of a mobile game-based English vocabulary learning app on learners’ perceptions and learning performance: A case study of Taiwanese EFL learners. ReCALL, 31(2), 170–188.

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Chen, H.-J. H., Hsu, H.-L., Chen, Z.-H., & Todd, A. G. (2021). Investigating the Impact of Integrating Vocabulary Exercises into an Adventure Video Game on Second Vocabulary Learning. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 59(2), 318-341.

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Filsecker, M., & Hickey, D. T. (2014). A multilevel analysis of the effects of external rewards on elementary students’ motivation, engagement and learning in an educational game. Computers & Education, 75, 136-148.

Franciosi, S. (2017). The Effect of Computer Game-Based Learning on FL Vocabulary Transferability. Educational Technology & Society, 20(1), 123–133.

Godwin-Jones, R. (2014). Games in language learning: opportunities and challenges. Language Learning & Technology, 18(182), 9–19.

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Grimshaw, J., & Cardoso, W. (2018). Activate space rats! Fluency development in a mobile game-assisted environment. Language Learning & Technology, 22(3), 159–175.

Hung, H.-T., Chang, J.-L., & Yeh, H.-C. (2016). A review of trends in digital game-based language learning research. 2016 IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), 508-512.

Ibrahim, K. (2017). The Impact of Ecological Factors on Game-Based L2 Practice and Learning. Foreing Language Annals, 50(3), 533-546.

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Laamarti, F., Eid, M., & Saddik, A. (2014). An overview of serious games. International Journal of Computer Games Technology, 2014, 1–15.

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Peterson, M. (2016). Computer games and language learning. Springer.

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Serra, J., & Gilabert, R. (2021). Algorithmic versus teacher-led sequencing in a digital serious game and the development of second language reading fluency and accuracy. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52(5), 1898-1916.

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Tobias, S., & Fletcher, J. (2011). Computer Games and Instruction. State University of New York.

Usai, F., O’Neil, K. G. R., & Newman, A. J. (2018). Design and empirical validation of effectiveness of LANGA, an online game-based platform for second language learning. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 11(1), 107-114.

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Yamazaki, K. (2018). Computer-assisted learning of communication (CALC): A case study of Japanese learning in a 3D virtual world. ReCALL, 30(2), 214-231.



How to Cite

González Pérez, A., & Álvarez Serrano, A. (2022). Game-based learning for second language acquisition in higher education. Innoeduca. International Journal of Technology and Educational Innovation, 8(2), 114–128.