Assassin's Creed, Final Fantasy or Jump. In France, as in the rest of the Atlantic, video games are invited to classrooms to promote foreign language learning. "I start with classic learning methods. Then we extend what has been learned through the use of video games, "says a teacher. A method that would prove itself.

"Assassin's Creed" , "Final Fantasy" or the "Sims" , new foreign language teachers? In France and across the Atlantic, teachers are using the educational potential of video games to surprise and motivate their students. "In class, I take my console and ask for volunteers to play Assassin's Creed. The other students participate by giving their instructions in Italian, " describes Simone Bregni, who teaches Dante's language at the University of St. Louis (Missouri).

This method allows him, for example, to introduce imperative learning in the first weeks of his intensive course based on Ubisoft's flagship game. "I start with classic learning methods. Then we extend what has been learned through the use of video games , " adds this academic, himself a player. According to him, his students get 10% better results when they use this tool.

"A video game can motivate more than a lesson"

"Jump" , "Start" , "Game over" ... Of course, young people have not waited for video games to come into class and use them to become familiar with English: "In Europe, traditional gamers have begun to play when there was no translation in their language, " notes Laura Gutierrez, interpreter and founder of a video game translation company. But from a teachers' point of view, the popularity of video games and their translated versions in many languages ​​make them such legitimate course materials as songs or excerpts from movies that are already frequently used.

"A video game can motivate more than a lesson," says Laurence Schmoll, professor of French as a Foreign Language (FLE) and researcher in language didactics at the University of Strasbourg, who also uses it. "The fictitious nature makes it possible to forget the anxiety of learning [...] The challenge is that students really think of it as a game and not as an exercise , " says one who uses more willingly Big budget commercial games as specialized software in language learning.

"Not here to replace the teachers"

In the game, "the mistake is not stigmatizing. It's just an invitation to do it again, " says Alexis Hassler, a young teacher from FLE, for whom it is crucial for the teacher to be involved, " to invent a story around this experience " . "For example, on [the adventure game] Myst, we play reporters. Instead of saying "we will play this game", I say "we will explore this island". I think it's a strong experience that will allow them to remember words, " he says.

For the American researcher Jonathon Reinhardt, "several key principles of a well-designed game [...] find their equivalent in the teaching of a second language" . "For example, interaction, which is crucial in learning a new language, is also central to the player's experience" , as is the "pursuit of goals" , "dialogues in context" , and "the presence of feedback systems , " he wrote in an article published in 2017.

To further promote the "educational" side of the video game, the French entertainment giant Ubisoft has entered into a partnership with the TV5 Monde channel including the posting of worksheets to teach French to foreign students from extracts from "Assassin's Creed" . Even though, says Ubisoft vice president of new developments, Deborah Papiernik, "we are not here to replace the professors" .

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