Can Learning Be Fun and Games? The Influence of Everyday Language on Students’ Content Vocabulary Use and Concept Understanding

Geraldine Mongillo


This study examined the use of everyday language employed during game play to discover if this form of classroom discourse helped adolescents learn content area vocabulary and concepts.  Data were collected in a grade 7 science class where the students played 5 instructional games during a six-week unit studying Mountain Building that targeted 26 vocabulary words.  Data collected included audio recordings, written documents, interviews, formal and informal assessments, and field notes.


Results indicated that the participants’ use of scientific language in both written and oral discourse during games was appropriate and comparable to other measures.  Further, it was discovered that during games participants used everyday language to build understandings that exceeded token use of the academic vocabulary and concepts through collaborative talk.  This study suggests that games provide a non-threatening forum for discussion and the exchange of ideas and implementing games as an alternate instructional strategy allows students to utilize their diverse ways of knowing and speaking.


games; grade 7; content vocabulary; concept understanding

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