Help children improve their language skills using educational video games

Edited by Shiza Ahmed, Maria, Charmed, Anonymous and 20 others

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The early stages of a child's life are crucial for the development of their language and cognitive skills. There are four elements that need to be developed to learn all aspects of a new language: LISTENING. SPEAKING. READING. WRITING. It is during those crucial early stages of life that the language and communication skills are developed. There are many tools available to aid in developing children's language skills. Smart Educators recognize the impact video games have on children and teens, and as a result, have incorporated the ever-growing technology of video games into their creative educational resources.

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The shift in children's lifestyles in the past decade or so is an indication of the wide appeal for video games. Aside from the entertainment value of video games, they now play a major role in this generation's youth as an educational tool.

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Research and studies are exploring the benefits and potential that video games can provide as a tool for teaching children language, fine motor skills, problem solving, communication and other essential skills.

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Child Development Through Video Games=

Some of the benefits of playing video games to develop children's various skills:

  1. 1
    Vocabulary Development.
    Video games are useful for developing the vocabulary of the children. These include wordplay games, beneficial for broadening their vocabulary.
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  2. 2
    Reading.
    Playing video games require children to read the instructions provided in order to proceed to the next level of the game. This makes video games valuable not only developing their vocabulary, but improves their reading comprehension.
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  3. 3
    Speaking & Interaction.
    Games that require interaction with other players are a great way to develop interaction with other people. During conversations with other players, children will learn how to express their ideas and articulate to be understood by the other players. This encourages social interaction.
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  4. 4
    Accuracy in Spelling.
    Games that require correct spelling are a great way to improve their spelling skills. Continued practice of spelling words correctly, will eventually make it second nature, because they'll remember how words are spelled.
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  5. 5
    Listening.
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  6. 6
    Fine Motor Skills.
    The speed and dexterity required in many games, will improve children's fine motor skills. Just watching a child deftly maneuver their player, or objects during a video game, will demonstrate just how effective video games are for enhancing your child's fine motor skills.
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Developing Language Skills By Playing Video Games

  1. 1
    Listening.
    Adventure games often have a Narrator that reveals the story as the game progresses. Listening skills will improve as a child follows the directions given by the Narrator, and when the child must pay attention to a key character that presents a challenge. The request or quest will only be achieved when the instructions are heard and understood.  
    1. Sesame Street. "Once Upon a Monster" lets children play without a controller. There are verbal instructions to follow which improves listening skills.
    2. Zoo Tycoon. This game lets kids get close to the animals they are verbally instructed to care for. Learning to follow verbal instructions is an important aspect of developing language skills.
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  2. 2
    Speaking.
    Games that are played online with other players encourage verbal communication. Even after the game, students can be encouraged to discuss the game, the scenarios, the strategies and the outcomes with other students. The discussions encourages a better understanding of all the concepts involved with the game, interaction with other students and improves their problem solving skills.  
    1. Little Big Planet. This is a multi-player game that encourages interaction. Players can talk to each other online, as they work together to complete tasks throughout the game. This is an excellent tool to improve social interaction, and problem solving.
    2. Monkey Quest. This is another multi-player game played online. It's geared toward families. Together family members learn to communicate with each other and work as a team.
    3. David Moore of the University of Oxford, UK, is the creator of the game; Phonomena. According to them, in just a few weeks, a child can improve their language skills by two years. Phonomena is designed to improve children's ability to distinguish between different phonemes, the vital sounds that form the building blocks of any language. The head of UK Medical Research Council's Institute of Hearing Research, Moore, said that of five children, one child has problems hearing certain sounds. In this game, children distinguished between pairs of phonemes such as the "e" from "bet" and "I" sound from the word "bit". Using the 44 phonemes found in the English language, there more than one thousand different pairs, but this game focus on just 22 pairs of the most common, similar sounding phonemes.
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  3. 3
    Reading.
    Most adventure games have a story line that is fun and entertaining to read. In addition to the story, there are written instructions that need to be followed.  
    1. Animal Crossing. This is a great game that presents ongoing written requests that need to be followed to earn gifts in the game.
    2. Reader Rabbit. This is a collection of simple games and puzzles designed to teach reading skills and spelling.
    3. Although children find it more fun to find spell words by fishing for letters from an animated colorful sea or pool, rather than from a boring course book. Simulation also improves vocabulary. Students frequently encounter words they don't know, but often games hints to help the student spell the word correctly. One drawback – in some situation games, it's not always important to spell everything correctly.
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  4. 4
    Writing.
    Games that require writing in order to progress in the game make learning to write enjoyable.  
    1. Scribblenauts. This is a puzzle action game that allows the player to summon an object of his or her choice, by writing the name if the object on the touchscreen. The player then uses problem-solving skills to solve puzzles they are presented with during the game. This DS game has the potential to expand vocabulary, strengthen writing skills, improve spelling and promote interactive creativity.
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  5. 5
    Vocabulary Development.
    Simulation games often present new words that need to be understood to progress in the game.  
    1. SimAnt. This is a unique SIM game geared toward the younger player. Challenges may involve new words that will increase a child's vocabulary.
    2. SimFarm. Another SIM game that expands a child's basic vocabulary
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What The Experts Say About Using Video Games as Teaching Tool

  1. 1
    Nintendo Wii.
    The Wii gaming system has educational benefits, even in learning a second language. Students need to understand and follow instructions in the "target language" from other players, in order to play or win a game. Video games remove the serious atmosphere of an educational setting, which leads to more spontaneity and risk-taking -- two skills important for proficiency in a second language.
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  2. 2
    World of Warcraft.
    At the Cape Fear Middle School in Rocky Point, NC, the teachers use World of Warcraft to introduce an elective called "The Hero's Journey". It's a worthy experiment in Language Arts classes for educational purposes. The use of virtual worlds in education is an emerging area of interest worldwide, with interest from Australian to New York. During the game, the characters (students) go on quests in the Tolkien-esque world of Azeroth. The game requires writing and reading between characters playing with each other.
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  3. 3
    One survey reported that children that play educational video games are less prone to suffer from attention problems at school.
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  4. 4
    There is also a school of thought that suggests educational video games should not only be limited to "educational" games, but should also include video games traditionally called; arcade games.
     
    1. Recently, an experiment was conducted where students were assigned to play either a computer word game (educational game) or Halo: Combat Evolved, an action game considered more of an entertainment game, has been proven to enhance the visuospatial ability of youth.
    2. After 25 minutes of play of either game, the students were required to read a difficult article (for their age) about plate tectonics. Then they were required to write an essay to assess their understanding of the written material titled, "What caused Mt. St. Helen's to erupt?"
    3. The students who chose Halo performed better on the essay test, demonstrating a better comprehension of the scientific concepts.
    4. Both groups of students, however, rated the videos equally for their enjoyment.
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  5. 5
    Educational video games are promising and effective teaching aids in the present, and only the imagination can say how they will be improved in the future.
    They have many advantages over the traditional, old-fashioned school lecture:  
    1. Video games break down difficult tasks, leading the students to success through a series of small steps.
    2. Students learn how to control the navigation, and outcome of the game.
    3. Video games give the students immediate and continuous feedback.
    4. Video games can be reconfigured or adapted to correspond to the individual pace of each student.
    5. Game based projects or tasks may require students to formulate hypotheses and perform experiments. This encourages the best kind of thinking – creative thinking.
    6. Video game programmers and creators have achieved what the traditional school approach has failed to do - they have struck up very effective methods for not only educating students, but teaching them to enjoy learning.
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  6. 6
    Norton talks about how reducing risk to identity may be an important link to motivation, regarding language practice and learning.
    It seems, that interacting with a comfortably designed avatar partner, inside the safe space of a virtual world controlled by the learner, is beneficial to the learning process.
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  7. 7
    Caylor observed that video games correlates to increased motivation for students learning Spanish as a second language.
    Considering how today's students are frequent users of electronic devices, video games would be a natural teaching tool for teaching Spanish, or any other language a student is learning.
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  8. 8
    CheEmbi and Hussain observed that electronic games that project text, images or illustrations, animation, sound and video, enhance the comprehension of Malaysian students studying science in English.
    Certainly, in the future, this method of teaching will become even more popular, and not be a science fiction fantasy.
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  9. 9
    There are some limitations to learning through video games, and they shouldn't be the only method of teaching.
    Alan Gershenfeld, founder and President of E-Line Media, a publisher of digital games - (all the skills we need for the 21st century), said video games allow people step into other people's shoes, make decisions and explore consequences, all things that help children and parents learn.
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Three Types Of Educational Video Games

The first few years of a child's life are extremely important in the development of his or her language, speech and cognitive skills. It is vital to engage young children in activities that stimulate their minds, and offer human contact. Role models are extremely important in those young years, and as a parent, it's up to you to make sure the video games they are playing are positive, and not violent. By interacting with your child through play, and everyday life experiences, you can help them acquire new language skills through observation, social interaction, manipulating objects, reading and listening. Educational video games have been developed since 1970. You can find games designed specifically for children and education. There are also games geared to older children and adults. Three types of educational video games:

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  1. 1
    Simulation Games
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  2. 2
    Creative expression games
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  3. 3
    Teaching games
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Examples of Some Educational Games

  1. 1
    Reading skill games.
     
    1. Reader Rabbit Series. This includes electronic storybooks.
    2. Grade Specific. School House Rock 1st and 2nd Grades.
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  2. 2
    Foreign languages.
     
    1. Success Builder Spanish.
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  3. 3
    Games to test linguistic abilities.
     
    1. Eiken O (DS). King of Eiken introduces 300 Eiken style questions that focus on listening skills.
    2. Game de Eitore (DS). Game for English training - for children who are just learning English. It involves mostly listening exercises and alphabet-writing.
    3. Eigozuke (DS). This is for adult learners, who are not comfortable using English.
    4. Talkman (PSP). This is a travel aid that can be used as both a language tutor and a translation tool.
    5. My Word Coach (Wii,DS). This game offeres gamers with vocabulary building exercises.
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Main Field Of Video Games

educational video games
  1. 1
    Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL).
    The broad definition of CALL is includes any process where a learner improves his or her language by the use of a computer. CALL includes the following:  
    1. Chat.
    2. Clients.
    3. Dictionaries.
    4. Computer Games.
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  2. 2
    Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL).
    These include digital games designed specifically for education, and teaching different skills. Digital game-based learning games are the usual kinds of games used by educators to teach their students. In many language classrooms, role-playing, simulations, and board games are in used extensively as oral exercises. Language often refers to these non-digital games.
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How Video Games Help Educational/Language Development

Kids Ipad

Video games never lose their charisma. Game programmers and software engineers never stop coming up with the latest games, which never fail to attract players of every age. For the longest time, parents, behavioral experts, and educational authorities have been monitoring and assessing the effects of video games on youth's education and behavior. It may be true that excessive playing of video games can result in reduced time for studying and school activities, however, it's up to you as the parent or educator to weigh out the pros and cons. It's also certain that young people can benefit socially and educationally, from playing the right kind of video games in moderation.

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communication problems

Video games also pave the way for conversation and collaboration among students. This presents an opportunity for them to learn. Cooperation is also developed among students when they play video games. They learn how to work together so they could win the game. This helps develop their social skills. Children are also inclined to engage in peer interaction and parallel play. Some games also teach children the importance of economics with the allowances they acquire. Children are also taught to face and go beyond various challenges they encounter when they play video games.

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Education and language development is much more enhanced by the creativity that children develop when they play video games.

  • They end up making their own video games on their own computers.
  • They learn how to incorporate visual effects and music into their creations.
  • The scenarios they create stimulates their minds.
  • They learn much faster because video games sharpen their observation skills.
  • They also learn more words because there are certain games that present new words the players need to know to move to the next level. This aids in language development, which enables the players to communicate with other players more effectively.
 child Ipad

Because video games can engage children longer than formal classes, they are effective in creating motivation. Many educators use video games as a strategy to teach lessons and develop target skills. If children have poor skills, video games can help bring out the necessary skills they need to keep up with the rest of the class. These games can also enhance hand-eye coordination and increase the level of self-esteem. Children have the opportunity to take on challenges and use their tactics to solve various tests or puzzles.

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Important Things To Know When Raising Kids Around Gaming

  1. 1
    Moderation is the best approach in raising kids.
    As The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that children should not spend more than two hours in front of a screen. This includes TVs, computers, and video games).
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  2. 2
    Teachers and parents should be aware of the importance of technology when it comes to educating a child.
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  3. 3
    Video games designed for entertainment value, can also have educational benefits.
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  4. 4
    Playing computer games can also improves hand-to-eye coordination, fine motor skills, writing skills, increasing vocabulary reaction time, and improving the player's confidence and self-esteem.
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  5. 5
    Video games stimulate learning by promoting curiosity and challenging the player.
    Video games also develop various social skills, especially children with special needs, and issues with social skills. Recognizing visual patterns, and following a story line are all skills will help with a child's basic development, including reading, language, and mathematics.
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  6. 6
    Video games related to language skills encourage a student to follow directions, discuss and share, answer questions and problem solve.
    Basic reading skills can be developed when the character's dialogue is printed on the screen.
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  7. 7
    Narratives, such as quest games, may provide heuristics that students need while learning a new language.
    This game presents language and vocabulary with complex pictures, sounds and motion. The student interacts with the avatar, that speaks the required or target language – a great way to learn. Unlike books, Quest video games present language on very challenging levels.
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Other Areas of Development

  1. 1
    Social and emotional development.
    The opportunity to interact with others is presented. There are many games designed to be played online with other players. Little Big Planet is a great game for children. Kids can visit with other kids while working as a team to accomplish the challenges in the game. Parents should be nearby to monitor the interaction.
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  2. 2
    Cognitive development.
    This is the ability to learn and to solve problems. Animal Crossing is offers challenges that promote problem solving.
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  3. 3
    Fine motor development (the use of small muscles).
    Using game controls requires precise movements of fingers, thumbs and wrists, which involves fine motor skills. Large motor skills (the use of large muscles). Dance Revolution has the gamer on his or her feet, which requires the use of gross motor skills.
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Conclusion

Aside from the often boring and traditional methods of teaching on the blackboard and lecturing, video games used as a teaching tools takes us to a new and innovative stage of learning. The important thing in motivating children to learn by playing video games is in the creation process. They need to program interesting educational video games that are exciting, and hold the children's attention. It's always easier to teach children, when they are engaged in the process.

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Tips and Warnings=

  • Avoid violent games with younger children.
  • Monitor their time playing. Forty minutes play, and then forty minutes away from the game is a good rule. Due to the competitive nature of many games, children can become anxious and frustrated, and physically tense. They'll need a break.
  • Remember that staring at a computer/TV screen for long periods of time is hard on the eyes.
  • Parenting magazine cautions parents to allow their children time to play video games, but in moderation.
  • If you allow your child three hours of TV a day, video gaming should be included in those three hours, not added to it.
  • Search for titles that are well produced and have educational merits and values.
  • Instructional games must be designed carefully to provide both an engaging first-person experience as well as supporting the learner.
  • Never allow a young child a computer in their room, away from parental supervision.
  • Always monitor your child's online activities. As wonderful as interactive games your child can play online are, there are predators out there pretending to be children, attempting to lure them, or pervert them. You need to know what your child is doing to prevent a tragedy.

Questions and Answers

What computer games are best at teaching language skills?

As technology advances, we are learning more ways to use it to help teach our little ones. Children can learn language skills by playing computer games, but such games should only serve as supplements to other forms of teaching, and not be the only method used to teach the kids. You should also review each game before letting your child play it. Here are some computer games helpful for teaching language skills:

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  • Maggie's Earth Adventures. This game teaches grammar, punctuation, prefixes and suffixes.
  • Primary Games. This game teaches spelling, vocabulary and typing.
  • Grammar Ninja. This game teaches nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, verbs, articles, etc.
  • Academic Skill Builders. This game teaches parts of speech, spelling and vocabulary.
  • Game Classroom. This game teaches reading, grammar and writing.
  • Grammar Practice Park. This game teaches the parts of the speech.
  • Into the Book. This game teaches reading comprehension.
  • Word Girl Synonym Toast. This game teaches all about synonyms.
  • Silly Sentence Machine. This game teaches prepositional phrases, subjects, verbs, predicates, etc.
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You can try the following online video games to teach language skills:

NOTE: You will need to be connected to the internet to play these games.

Phantasy Quest

Sound Factory

Polleke's Blue Room

Ketinetto2

The Ballard of Ketinetto 7

Heart of Tot

Monster Basement Griswold The Goblin

The Ballad of Ketinetto

I need games to improve children's listening skills.

Perhaps through instructions, like giving a sentence and asking students to cut a few letters, or find a word.

One of the best games to improve children's listening skills is, "Chinese Whispers". In this game, everyone sits in a circle, and one person from the group whispers a name in the ear of the next person. If the word remains the same by the time it goes around the entire circle, the game has been won. If it changes, improvement is needed. It rarely happens that the word remains the same. Other than that, you could also play "Simon Says", where in the kids are supposed to do a certain thing if Simon says it and not do if he does not. For instance, if you say "Simon says Sit", they should sit but, if you just say "sit", they don't sit and if someone does sit then, they are out. The game goes on.

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There are several devices you can buy from toyshops that mentions several words that your child has to spell. These are very good to test how well your child hears certain words and practices their spelling.

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Many online games with complicated story lines that your child must follow in order to finish the game, are very good. There are even games where your child dresses a doll by following instructions.

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What are the four skills in teaching the English language?

The four skills for teaching the English language are:

  1. 1
    Technical Competence.
    As a teacher of the language, you have to be well adept on the nuances of the language.
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  2. 2
    Tactical Competence.
    You also have to be adept at the approach to teaching English. Anyone learning English need different approaches to be effective, and keep the student engaged.
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  3. 3
    Patience and Perseverance.
    Not everyone learns English easily. It takes a lot of hard work. Therefore, as a teacher of the English language, patience is very important.
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  4. 4
    Practicality.
    English is best learned when it is taken in a practical context. As a teacher, you have to be very practical in your approach and should be able to translate the concepts into things that are easily grasped by your students.
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See more questions like this: I want to learn English the correct way?

What video can I use to improve kids language?

There are a lot of videos that will help your kids improve their language skills. Of course it varies depending on the age and abilities of your child. If they already know speak the language, you're brushing up their skills, which is different from teaching a child a new or second language.

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How do educational video games help students with grammar?

I am wondering how students can increase their vocabulary and develop through educational TV shows, just like games?

Yes, sure they improve and learn through TV shows but TV shows are a passive activity and don't require interaction. A lot of TV channels such as Australia Network, Disney, Discovery, etc. help children improve their grammar and general knowledge. Some of the British series or American Sitcoms aired in English will also help teach the language. The difference is, Video Games will have your child involved rather than just passively sitting and staring at the TV. Thus, the child will learn faster.

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How can I improve my son's ability to elaborate on things and events?

How can I improve my seven year old son's ability to elaborate on the events and other things? He needs help with his sentence formation, and bringing clarity into his speech.

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From what age we should teach children?

From what age we should start teaching our daughter to learn languages?

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Are there proofs or surveys about how Videogames help students to develop the four skills?

I need more information about the topic, even if there are more researches and surveys about this important and interesting topic. Many thanks in advance. I am a teacher.

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How do children learn language?

What happens to them when they learn language skills?

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Do video games improve Indonesian's teenager's English?

I need the answer because it's for my debate competition. Thank you.

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I don't know how to speak English.

I want to speak English fluently.

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How can an interactive teacher exploit the relationship between reading and speaking skills to enhance primary school children's language competence?

To enhance primary school children's language competence.

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Do you have Didactic Games to suggest, please?

I have to do my final project work about didactic games to develop the oral skills in seventh grade students, I need some games and theoretical foundations about System of didactic games and communicative abilities, Could you help me please? If you can suggest games, that would be great.

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Hi sir, do you have a site or articles about this topic?

We need to include these in our research.

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