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    School might be out for summer, but that doesn’t mean kids can’t be learning. Leading Chartered Psychologist and Member of the British Psychological Society, Dr Simon Moore (BSc, PhD, CPsychol), has today unveiled new insight demonstrating how language-based gaming apps can help children develop their language learning. 

    Throwing out the age old adage that video games are bad for children’s health, Moore and his team have created a whitepaper, supported by new qualitative research, detailing the significant number of advantages of game-based learning.

    The study shows that if parents adopt this approach over the summer holidays, children will be placed in good stead for the start of the school year. 

    Working in conjunction with educational game developers Wibbu, 30 children aged between nine and 10 years old, supported by teachers from Danegove School, London, participated in the study.

    Overall, the study discovered that children who played with the app were more enthusiastic, engaged and excited to be learning, which led to a desire to learn more. 

    With UK schoolchildren now less likely to speak a foreign language than those in any other European nation*, Moore firmly believes games-based apps could be the way to overcome this issue – and indeed enhance traditional education methods.

    During the study, half of the children were tasked with playing Ruby Rei, a language-learning video game app for mobile, and the other half invited to interact with online exercises and games that taught Spanish. Their engagement, enjoyment and experience levels were closely monitored over the course of one week.

    The results showed that the children who used the game found their understanding of Spanish improve significantly more than those who did not play it. The children who took part in the Ruby Rei experimental group improved in their Spanish language proficiency (23%) by twice that of the children who used the online exercises (12% improvement). 

    Furthermore, children who played with the Ruby Rei game voluntarily engaged in this activity four times more (six hours) than the children who were using the online exercises (1 hour 24 minutes).

    One of the children who participated in the experiment said: “Before this, I found learning a language a bit boring. Playing made me have fun and concentrate on the game instead of the language. I think playing the game distracted me from finding it boring, so I probably learned much more from doing it.”

    Ruby Rei focuses on immersing players in an epic adventure so they never feel like they are using an ‘educational tool’. Instead, they can just enjoy the game and gain new language skills as they play. 

    Dr Simon Moore, comments: “This study proves that game-based learning offers a significant number of advantages to support education, especially when it comes to language acquisition. Traditional education techniques coupled with this method creates a different way for the brain to learn, making it more fun and enjoyable – and as the study showed, the children who took part in the Ruby Rei experiment, were far more motivated to engage in the activity.”

    Deborah Metcalf Head teacher for Danegove School, London, adds: “Game based learning creates a positive experience for which not just children, but students of any age, feel comfortable and confident to develop and enhance their skills. Moreover, games-based apps help to diminish social inhibition and peer embarrassment, a known barrier new students experience when developing conversational proficiency. This could well be the future of language learning – and education as a whole.”

    Throughout the process the user has the opportunity to:

    • Learn over 1,500 words
    • Develop their grammar from beginner to intermediate level
    • Engage in over 600 interactions

    All elements of the game have been crafted by linguists, language teachers and game developers to transform both games and education with a new approach to learner motivation.

    Languages available to learn in 2017 include Spanish, French, English and Japanese.

    Ruby Rei is available for download on the Apple Store or Android.

    Study

    30 children aged between 9-10 were recruited for this pilot research study. These children comprised a single class of year 5 schoolchildren from a London Primary School. The class had a weekly basic Spanish language class. Parental consent was obtained from the parents of all the children who participated.

    The children were randomly divided into two groups:

    • Half of the children were randomly assigned to the experimental group – which comprised of 15 children being invited to play the Ruby Rei game.
    • Half of the children were randomly assigned to the control group – which comprised of 15 children being invited to interact with other exercises and games that promoted Spanish learning.

    The resources were matched in terms of level of Spanish the children were being taught within their current curriculum.

    Each group was observed for a week in terms of their voluntary interaction and progress with each resource.

    All children were assessed in terms of their Spanish proficiency/ability (written, verbal and listening) at the start of the study and at the end of the study. 

    Measurements

    Language Development: Language development for each child was measured at the start and end of the week’s study. The test was co-designed by Wibbu and Cambridge English Language Assessment in terms of age appropriateness and curriculum relevancy. Each child was measured in terms of the increase or decrease in their scores on the test at the end of the study (compared to their scores at the start of the study).

    Engagement: Engagement with the materials/game was measured in terms of the number of hours each child chose to interact with either than game (experimental group) or the online resource (control group).

    Experience: Each child was also interviewed by a psychologist (before and after the study) in terms of their experiences, expectations and likes/dislikes in terms of learning a second language and Spanish in particular. 

    About Wibbu: The developers of Ruby Rei, Wibbu is an educational video-game studio based in London, UK. It was founded in 2013 with the goal of modernising foreign-language learning. By crafting immersive video games to teach languages, Wibbu aims to foster genuine motivation, and emphasise interaction and entertainment over traditional teaching methods. 

    About Dr Simon Moore: Simon is a Chartered Business and Consumer Psychologist and managing partner with the award winning psychological insight and behaviour change consultancy, Innovationbubble (www.innovationbubble.eu). Simon and his psychology team have undertaken award winning work for well-known charity brands (GuideDogs, StepToday etc) global brands (Fedex, Sony, Deutsch Bank, Aviva Insurance, Ericcson, SonyMusic, TalkTalk, Virgin Atlantic, Bupa, Microsoft, Universal) and travel brands (Virgin Holidays, Thomas Cook, Booking.com, Royal Caribbean, Virgin Atlantic). Several of his research studies have caught the attention of the Minister for Education who have requested the full research reports. Simon has acted as an advisor to the UK and US governments. He is a chartered member of the British Psychological Society and Forum for Business and Consumer Psychology.

     

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