Pei Pei

A Preliminary Investigation of Chinese Primary School In-Service English Teachers’ Pedagogical Beliefs of Using Digital Games in a Chinese context

Digital game-based learning (DGBL) has increasingly become an innovative approach in the field of pedagogy. Worldwide, people are showing a growing interest in how young learners learn a second language. Especially in China, much attention has been paid to seeking methods for children to learn a foreign language better. In the Chinese context, it seems that favourable conditions make the incorporation of E-learning, DGBL and other technologies into education possible. E-learning is believed to be a promising approach used for teaching English to young learners.
The present research investigates Chinese primary English teachers’ perceptions with regard to digital games for pedagogical use in order to provide the opportunity for teachers and students to make full use of DGBL and learn English in an innovative and more efficient way. A mixed-methods approach was employed to collect data through online questionnaires and face to face interviews. 13 teachers from six primary schools in Harbin (which were anonymised as A, B, C, D, E, F) voluntarily participated in this project. This research mainly analyses the Chinese primary school English teachers’ general attitudes towards DGBL, and specifically the perceived advantages, disadvantages and difficulties of implementation.
The results of this research have shown some interesting features, regardless of culture and context. For the small sample of teachers in this study, teachers’ perceptions of DGBL are generally positive. DGBL was found to be a useful approach, but with some concerns and issues. They could recognize the benefits of using DGBL as interesting and impressive. However, there are some concerns that are peculiar to the Chinese context. The findings show how teachers regard the status of textbooks and “other” materials and they help to identify specific issues that are of concern because of the Chinese context. The shortcomings and difficulties of implementing DGBL, such as lack of resources and incompatibility with textbooks, cannot be overlooked, however. With an aim to changing people’s perceptions on DGBL, this research is relevant to English teachers and parents, and software developers may also find this helpful.

Keywords: digital games, DGBL (digital game-based learning), attitude, perception, impact, difficulty