Revista Horizontes: primavera/otoño 2011 | Año LIV Núms. 104-105

27 students who are accustomed to only using textbooks and pencils, while simultaneously bringing the knowledge and experience of students who are proficient with technology into the classroom dynamic (Donnelly, Jewett, Lamen, & Wilson, 2012). One of the fastest-growing areas in the use of technology in English language teaching is the use of video games as a means to practice reading comprehension, oral skills, and vocabulary use. Gee (2005) contends that video games force players to use much of the same schema they apply in other areas, such as critical and lateral thinking and risk-taking. Moreover, he argues that video games apply a safe context in which learners can use trial and error to acquire competence through performance, instead of being expected to achieve competence first and then demonstrate proficiency. According to him, video games do a better job of simulating how people actually learn in the real world (by doing), and they provide real time, context-driven scenarios that can have consequences, much like real life (Gee, 2007). Squire (2005) criticizes the traditional organization of modern schools, arguing that the focus on social control over learning causes many students to struggle. Using the game Civilization III in his classes, he shows that video games offer these struggling students a means by which they can demonstrate their competence in a non-traditional manner. While students who do not respond well to the game or are not interested can rely on traditional learning tools, video games offer another way to reach a broader population of learning styles. Gee (2007) and Squire (2006) are not the only ones recognizing how video games can be educational. VanDeventer & White (2002) show that highly-skilled video gamers use of their expert abilities for gaming in many of the same ways that they apply them in other domains. They also determine that video gamers operate along a continuum of skill levels ranging from novice to expert. The concept of video gaming as a means to teach and learn English has also generated interest in the game development community among companies such as Sony (through its video game division, Sony Computer Entertainment of America). Professor Edd Schneider of the Department of Information & Communication Technology at The State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam and one of his graduate students Kai Zheng demonstrated this potential at the 2007 Game Developers Conference, when they presented research involving middle school children in Shanghai, China. For two hours a day over the course of five months, the researchers used a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) connection and Flagship Industries' group-communications program Ventrilo to play a myriad of online games with the children, ranging from Scrabble to strategy games, all in English. The researchers could play any game they chose, so long as it was in English. The response from the students was overwhelmingly positive, and their teachers reported that motivation and enthusiasm was consistently high (Waters, 2007). Schneider and Zheng contend that games such as World of Warcraft have vast potential for offering real-time interaction and communication because of their vast, persistent worlds. Somewhere, someone is always online, and since the game is entirely in English, learners must be able to navigate menus, buy and sell weapons and items, accept and complete quests, and interact with other members of their party. Exploring a dungeon or tackling a dragon takes coordination and teamwork, and the use of in-game chat allows players to effectively formulate and execute strategies with each other in the natural flow of discourse (Waters, 2007). Educators have long argued that learners are more motivated to read when they are given material that interests them. Using authentic texts can spur learners to read what is assigned and also motivate them to keep reading beyond the classroom. Krashen (2007) favors the use of narrow reading to ensure comprehensibility. Additionally, the syntax and vocabulary they acquire from reading material on topics of interest are often carried over to other areas. Krashen espouses what he calls “Free Voluntary Surfing,” (FVS), which refers to learners using the internet to find and enjoy authentic texts. This is a variation of his “Free Voluntary Reading” theory, and he suggests that learners who are able to freely choose reading material that interests them can apply this same method to their time online. It may thus be plausible to hypothesize that the benefits of narrow reading through focusing on a single author or subject matter in books and on the internet can be applied to certain video games when used in the correct circumstances. A lack of technology in the classroom can cause teachers to ignore key ways in which many children perceive the world today and interact with their environment. The proliferation of smart phones, tablets, and laptops among young people today offer evidence that there is a large avenue for engaging diverse communities that educators may well be overlooking (With Cell Phones and Laptops, 2010). Today's kids have never known a world without high speed internet, social networking, instant and text messaging, and a persistent online presence. Studies also show that children who play video games operate along a skill continuum, ranging from novice to expert, increasing and refining their skills with practice. Additionally, children who are expert-level video gamers have demonstrated expert characteristics such as qualitative thinking, self- monitoring, decision-making, and superior memory – all in ways similar to how they are displayed in other domains (VanDeventer & White, 2002). Thus, while the schools themselves may sometimes be lacking in certain resources, this may not directly reflect a lack of student enthusiasm and motivation. Puerto Ricans in general are very tech savvy, and around 40% of the population has internet access, and 86% of that number uses some type of