An ethnographic study of children's talk about gaming

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This paper describes and discusses three young Danish children’s (11 year olds) language-use while playing and
talking about playing English-language games. The study employs ethnographic descriptive interviewing (Spradley:
1979): the children are asked to take the interviewer on a “guided tour” through videogames they play on a regular
basis. Spradley notes that: “ [d]escriptive questions aim to elicit a large sample of utterances in the informants native
language” (1979, p. 49) and can provide “…a large sample of native terms” (p.50). The study describes the “native
language/native terms” to see how the English-language input provided by the games is being noticed and employed
by the children. The study rests on the assumption that incidental language acquisition is possible and suggests that
language-use by children may reflect this. The children were asked to play their favorite game(s) and were asked to
describe what they did in the game and why. During gameplay the researcher asked a number of what and why and
how questions in order to elicit as many details as possible. The informants are part of a large-scale project funded by
the Danish council for independent research and have been chosen on the basis of their gaming habits (+4 hours
weekly). Recording of the guided tour was done at school after the school day was over with parental consent. The
recording took approximately 2 hours. The children brought their own iPads and decided which games they wanted
to show the researcher. When the informants used English to describe a scene/object, the term(s) were employed by
the researcher subsequently so to not re-phrase the “native language” of the children.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date20. Apr 2017
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 20. Apr 2017
EventThinking, Doing, Learning: Usage-based perspectives on second language learning - Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München, Germany
Duration: 19. Apr 201721. Apr 2017
Conference number: 3


ConferenceThinking, Doing, Learning
LocationLudwig Maximilians Universität


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