A scoping review of digital game-based technology on English language learning

  • Zhihong XuEmail author
  • Zhuo Chen
  • Lauren Eutsler
  • Zihan GengEmail author
  • Ashlynn Kogut
Research Article


Learning with games has been increasing in practice, but studies of the features and learning outcomes involving digital games to develop language learning are scarce. This scoping review investigates the current practices of digital game-based language learning to support English language learning, in terms of participants’ characteristics, methodological features, gaming characteristics, and an association between game availability and gaming characteristics. Our results indicate: (1) vocabulary is the most dominant practiced language skills; (2) methods employed were primarily quantitative with researcher-designed tests; (3) commercial games contain the most elements of a good game; (4) use of good gaming elements is inconsistent among digital games. We provide strategies for educational researchers to improve their rigor in research, along with explicit criteria that digital game designers can apply toward language-learning game development. As educational technology continues to transform language learning, we emphasize the need for continued research and development that investigates how gaming elements in mobile learning environments may improve language-learning outcomes.


Digital games Gaming elements Language learning Scoping review 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We declare that we have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.University of North TexasDentonUSA

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