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The Impact of Digital Games on Students’ Willingness to Communicate in a Flipped Classroom Context

Nasibeh Bagherpour,, Shiva Hajirostam, and Amir Farjami

Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, South Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt Üniversitesi Yabancı Diller Yüksekokulu, Ankara, Turkey

Corresponding author: Nasibeh Bagherpour, Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, South Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran. Email: bagherpour.ns@gmail.com


Introduction: The ability to use language for communicative purposes is significant in learning English as a foreign language. The present study investigated the effect of digital games on intermediate EFL learners’ Willingness to Communicate (WTC) in a flipped classroom context. Methodology: Of 90 female intermediate EFL learners, 60 participants were selected based on their performance on an Oxford Placement Test. The subjects were then divided into an experimental and a control group. After that, the participants in the two groups filled out the WTC questionnaire as a pre-test. Following that, in the experimental group, the researcher used Fun Easy Learning Game Software in a flipped instruction mode to instruct 50 vocabulary items that were identified as unknown to the learners. As for the control group, the learners followed the conventional method of instruction and thus followed the syllabus of the institute. The learners in this group were instructed on the same 50 vocabulary items but did not receive any content in a flipped instruction mode via games. The treatment lasted 10 sessions, and at the end, the participants in both groups were given the WTC questionnaire as a post-test. Results: The results of statistical analysis indicated that the use of digital games significantly affected intermediate students’ WTC in a flipped classroom context. Learners in the experimental group outperformed their counterparts in the control group. Conclusion: Based on the findings, EFL teachers are encouraged to employ digital games in a flipped instruction mode to enhance EFL learners’ WTC.


The introduction of communicative approaches into the second language (L2) pedagogy has demonstrated the significance of developing communicative competence in L2 learners (Green, 2000). It is proposed that language learning occurs as a result of interactive meaningful communication in a pragmatic setting (Swain & Lapkin, 2002). In Swain’s (2000) opinion, language use and language learning take place simultaneously. For Swain, in fact, it is language use that mediates language learning. Consequently, it is essential to take into account the factors limiting and enhancing L2 learners’ opportunities to make use of language to communicate as well as learn language via meaningful interaction and communication (Swain, 2000), thereby helping L2 learners in the language learning process. Highlighting the significant role of communication, language learning is defined by MacIntyre et al. (1998, p. 559) as “authentic communication between persons of different languages and cultural backgrounds”. In essence, one of the main purposes of learning English as a foreign language is to use the target language for communication (MacIntyre, 2007). Pushing learners to talk is still considered a big challenge faced by many teachers, as is evident in many reports showing that a large number of EFL learners, especially Asians are passive, quiet, and shy as they are not willing to respond in the class (e.g., Liu, 2005). Given an opportunity to use their L2, some individuals speak up and others keep silent even after having studied the same L2 for many years (MacIntyre, 2007).

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