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This paper is an analysis if of the use of team-based paintball in learning of English language by adults aged thirty two years old on average. This use of game in as a language activity is basically a virtual language school and the game comprise of two parts which include an carrying of an initial training game followed by several and short paintball games which involves players participating in initial stage briefing and the wraparound activities like debriefing or feedback immediately after the games has been completed. This paper will therefore focus in describing the game, providing an analysis of its characteristics as well as its relevance when it crimes to learning a language which in this aces is English and later conclude on the learning activity.
The game involve four stages and the first stage involves the briefing stage where players are thought the required vocabulary like nouns and prepositions of place and this usually take place within a hard drive but the game often involve use of other learning sites depending on the specific group that the learner is grouped in and such sites include: the construction site, the forest, the city streets and the hotel Bianco (2004, p123-124).The second stage of the paintball game is the training of the activity and it is in this stage that a sub-domain of the game is presented. Such presentation of the game serves to offers an opportunity for the facilitators of the training to ensure that all the sufficient SL skills that will help them play the game successfully by being able to practice the language that is intended to giving of game directions in an environment of low pressure for instance when given instructions like 'Jump unto the hard drive', and 'opposite the cables". At this stage of the game the students are paired and allowed to sit in a classroom. The first pair is dropped to the works of the hard drive while the second one remains in the classroom on looking down on the computer. Then all other players are therefore muted and the person present in the room must therefore give verbal directions directed to their partner so that they can be able to locate a targeted red square and the first individual to locate it becomes the winner of the game and this leads to players swapping their positions and the game proceed to its third stage.
At the third stage of paintball game involves the splitting of the group into two teams with each team with their own home base where a flag is positioned in each base. This game is objectively intended to allow each team capture the flag of the opposing team and be able to return it the home base without the other team not being in a position to capture the teams own flag. The rules of the game at this stage ensure that all the team members are given roles to play in a rotational manager hence avoiding the chances of bystanders during the game Brick (2004,p 34-41). The roles that are allocated in a rotational design include the defending of the flag from the opposite team capturing it, covering or restraining of the opponents, running to capture the opponent's flag, and every member has to contribute in devising a strategy amongst themselves that will enable the team to win against their opponents. This game moves first hence players in the two teams have to employ the use of oral communication promoting one team muting other players from the opposing team. In addition to that players are often armed with paintballs which they use to incapacitate their opponents for at least ten seconds Christison (2005, p57). The games lasts for approximately two hours and involves playing of several games with shifting of the home bases to new locations within the sim to enhance variation of the vocabulary required in language learning activity.
The final stage of the game involves debriefing process done depending on the level in which the learner group belongs to. For instance the class of beginners might discuss no directions while the higher level class discusses on tactics and strategy and the class at advanced level can discuss extensively covering on war ands ethics Crozet (2003, p 66-67).
Analysis of the game
First the game can be analyzed by examining its game-like characteristics and its level of engagement when it comes to delivering the standards set for a game that can be used as an activity to carry out a language learning activity. Through the experience that comes when one engages in the game it's evident that it has met all the traits are listed by Whitton (2010, p101) that are often used to define a game and these include: the game involves a challenge which give directions in target language , involves multiple teams in a competition, involves a lot of moving around hence the exploratory trait, the scenario of first person shooter or fantasy, the strategy of obtaining the flag of the opponent portray a goal trait, interaction seen in the collaboration of the players to yield a win, ability to produce a clear winner, the application of game rules, participation by people in form of teams and finally the trait of safety where the game eventually does not leading to any consequence for the players Long, (1996,p 47). In terms of engagement, the game presents the player with a state in which they are so involved in the activity such that nothing else seem to be considered for prioritization and this is hindered by lack of SL skills hence the game requires players with high familiarity with SL interface as they are required to carryout several task like running, jumping, shooting and talking in very complex environments. The flow of the game is sometimes interrupted when the player bumps into things that make one not to jump with high precision hence if one uses it 'as is' in the non-SL based course the learning curve will be fairly steep hence only recommended for a self-selected group of SL.
Diverse language proficiencies are used to measure how well a learner ahs mastered a given language and is measured on how one is receptive and expressive in the language skills, vocabulary, syntax, and semantics as well as in other areas that can be used to demonstrate language abilities. This can be measured on domains of reading, speaking, listening and writing.
The paintball game simulates the recent theories that are computer -assisted language learning(CALL) which focus on importance of the input as well as interaction in the TL with computer acting as the mediator and bases it idea on the interaction and immersion to simulating the in which learning of native languages is undertake.. such idea is basically drawn on both socio-cultural and psycholinguistic theories of acquiring second language(SLA) thus considering the use of games and simulation in learning of language and many other hypothesized optimal options of language learning activities. The paintball game therefore support the use of learning activity to foster learning language and its importance as a learning activity Wolfe, & Jones (1982, 99-109). Therefore the ability of the player to play the game successfully measures that the skills of language like fluency in speech have been mastered.
The theory o f language that the game supports is the optimal condition of learning which involve the importance of comprehensive input and negotiated meaning in facilitating SLA which are the Long's interaction hypotheses. The idea of negotiated meaning is derived from the ability of the game to involve a high level of interaction especially in TL between players, the teacher-learner, opportunity given to players to react to feedback learner-learner as well as the ability of it to correct mistakes. In addition to that the game plays a vital role in learning of the language as it use authentic texts to promote communication hence focuses on the importance that is associated with having an audience a swell as contexts that the learner is expected to use TL forms that helps stretch their levels of competence DeKeyser (1998,p 17). The game ensures that the scenario is negotiated with real people in a real time hence proving learners on a similar level and all the participants in the game to be stretched enough to produce appropriate language at speed. the paintball game involve a lot of communication through listening and speaking especially in giving of directions as well as understanding the correctly to ensure a win in the game measures the language proficiency if the learners.
Socio-cultural factors that affect learning process include the ability of students to interact among each other and use language in their communication successfully. The game is effective when used as a language learning activity because it is entirely social especially given the fact that the game can only be won if the players are involved in interaction between one another through the ability to strategies, giving of directions and cooperation hence the characteristic of the game to stress on the work of Vygotsky which stresses on the importance of using social interaction in SLA and the ability to allow the activity to achieve a clear non linguistic goal through application of a successful linguistic interaction. Thus the paintball game proves beyond any reasonable doubt that it is able to promote learning of the language by maximizing the opportunities for a high level through the two-way interaction like using a linguistic means to achieve the non linguistic goal of learning.
The game considers the influence of other factors that affect the learning of language like the slow learners and less able which might be as a result of others that are not cultural hence its involvement of collaborative technique between players in the game thus promoting learning among such type of students.
Another way that the paintball is able to promote language learning is its trait of using collaborative TL dialogue especially with the able peers in the teams and this is linked to the zone of proximal development hence it's a game that able peers or teachers can intervene and involve the scaffolding feature Asher (1965 p145).
Finally this game is fast paced and learner centered hence an ample time is given for experimentation as well as the subsequent correction without involving any risks especially those from outside hence the application of the socio-cultural SLA that stresses on providing an opportunity for experiment low risk learning process that is based on a collaborative relationships as argued by Peterson (2010 p 59-63).
The use of paintball game as a learning activity for English as a second language yields benefits like offering opportunities for input by players; it promotes the concept of social interaction between players, and finally involves a collaborative strategy in the TL. The ability of the came to give the players an opportunity to collectively achieve their goals in the TL promotes language learning as the process is all about communication. The game achieves this goal by providing a highly motivating environment for students which they are able to demonstrate their language skills sufficiently Moran, (2001 p 70-72).
In addition to that the game normally requires a high degree of student familiarity with SL, but there are options of simplifying the environment to make the learning curve less thus can be modified to have fewer obstacles which enhances application to players who are less able hence flexible in nature Lightbown, & Spada, (2006 p 214-220). Finally, the paintball game can be more effective especially by developing a writing exercise based on the game and by doing so it encourages the students to have a deeper reflection of the game hence reinforcing the language learning process.