Language Arts & Video Games

Using Video Games to Practice English Language Arts Skills
If your learner had to choose between an afternoon playing video games or an afternoon doing homework and studying, which would he/she rather choose? It’s no surprise that learners are more likely to get engrossed with a video game and even forget the time while playing.

According to Essential Facts 2020, 81-89% of teens and kids across Canada play video games for about 12-14 hours a week. While many parents have expressed concern over their children spending too much time playing video games instead of doing their schoolwork, much can be said about the value that video games can bring in learning essential skills, especially in English Language Arts.

Gamifying learning, including its diverse applications, is a concept that has long been a part of practical instruction because it helps learners become more motivated and engaged. Video games also help them enhance and use their knowledge and skills. With their attractive and realistic graphics, compelling storylines, and interactive simulations, various kinds of video games can be used as effective tools to complement traditional language arts learning.

Nowadays, there are so many video games that are easily accessible online, whether it’s a fast-paced action game, or a long simulation game with a narrative, or a strategy game. Depending on the kind of game play, learners are naturally provided a fun way to integrate language skills like reading, listening, speaking, and even writing. For example, a role-playing strategy game often requires a player to choose their character’s responses and actions, applying critical thinking. The player may also subconsciously learn grammar rules and new vocabulary words while inferring meaning from the context.

Educator surveys show that learning games and video games are effective in helping struggling learners make up for their learning gaps. Since video games are fun and interactive, they help reduce learners’ anxiety in making mistakes and motivate them to keep going until they win or accomplish a task. They also increase social engagement, especially with collaborative games and online games that allow players to communicate with other players through a chat box or a conference.

Video games also provide in-context learning as gamers immerse themselves in the virtual reality on screen. They can play many different roles like a general of an army, a leader of a civilization, or a hero defeating the villains, all the more adding to the excitement and learning experience.

Well-designed games have the following elements: appealing images, provision for making choices, the steady progression of challenges, and the repetition towards mastery. These help support active and meaningful learning as well as keep the players highly engaged. Role playing and being in a virtual world helps learners gain stronger associations and visual memory in developing their language skills.

Here are some examples of awesome learning games that can help your learner develop English Language Arts skills in a fun and interactive way:

Minecraft Education

Minecraft Education has a wide selection of free resources including sample lessons, starter worlds, and training videos for educators. In their English Language Arts subject kit, find beginner lessons and worlds to engage your learners’ creativity, collaboration, and communication skills. Some of the lessons include building a story setting, recreating your favorite fairytale, and writing a narrative after exploring a shipwreck.


Explore quick-paced action games for K-8 learners that can help them with grammar, spelling, reading, and other core subjects. Funbrain also has free ebooks easily accessible on the website.

PBS Kids

For younger learners aged 5-8, PBS Kids has storytelling, vocabulary, and early literacy games with great graphics. Some games include Adventure Stories with Clifford the Big Red Dog, Pinkredible Storymaker, Arthur’s Puppet Theatre, and Storybook Adventure.

What are some of the video games your learner likes? Though video games are not designed to provide a foundation for basic language skills like grammar and vocabulary, these can be effective digital tools for reinforcing and enhancing these skills. Video games can also be used as a starting point for collaborative learning and spark interest among learners.

Learners can then build on these skills through both technical and creative language arts classes as they develop their literacy skills. Check out English Lit & Creative WritingWhose Words Are These Anyway? , and other classes to see how we can support your teen learners’ growth in Language Arts.


Northern Lights Academy Team