Need
Search
Evaluation

Need

The need component is the motivational, non-cognitive dimension of involvement. It is concerned with the neet to achieve. We interpret this notion not in its negative sense, based on fear of failure, but in its positive sense based on a drive to comply with the task requirements, whereby the task requirements can be either externally imposed or self-imposed. If, for example, the learner is reading a text and an unknown word is absolutely necessary for comprehension, s/he will experience the need to understand it. Or, the need will arise during a writing or speaking task when the L2 learner wants to refer to a certain concept or object, but the L2 word expressing it is unfamiliar. We propose to distinguish between "moderate" and "strong" need. Need is moderate when it is imposed by an external agent (e.g., the need to use a word in a sentence which the teacher has asked the learner to produce). Need is strong when imposed on the learner by him- or herself. A case in point is a decision to express a concept without knowing the appropriate word for it. In the case of need, moderate and strong subsume different degrees of drive (Laufer & Hulstijn, 2001).

Modern, commercial games are extremely adept at motivating players to impose needs upon themselves. Here one Everquest player describes his experiences:

The game is set up to make you want the next best thing. "Oh look what that guy has! How do I get that?" The answer is always to spend more time online either getting higher level to go camp the item, or to just go camp the item (or slight variation, camp the quest items that result in the new item). But you are rewarded for playing more. Better items, more freedom on where you can go. [m, 21] (from Yee, 2002)

By modifying commercial games such that comprehension of the L2 becomes a necessity for advancing in the game, we encourage learners to generate their own "need" to understand.

Search

Search is the attempt to find the meaning of an unknown L2 word or trying to find the L2 word from expressing a concept (e.g., trying to find the L2 translation of an L1 word) by consulting a dictionary or another authority (e.g., a teacher).

The rich graphics and sound capabilities present in a commercial game gives learners a greater opportunity to find word meanings by using surrounding context than a standard reading passage. If the meaning is still not clear from contexts, there are numerous possibilities of how to program in means for players to discover meanings of unfamiliar words. For example, in a game such as The Sims, players might be able to purchase (using game money) a temporary switch of the game's language from the L2 to the L1, allowing them to quickly learn the meanings of unfamiliar words -- but encouraging them to remember and learn the translations so that they do not have to purchase yet another temporary translation if they forget.

Evaluation

Evaluation entails a comparison of a given word with other words, a specific meaning of a word with its other meanings or combining the word with other words to assess whether a word (i.e., a form-meaning pair) does or does not fit its context.

As a game is an interactive medium, any incorrect assumptions as to word meanings would naturally have consequences that would be brought to the players attention until they evaluate what they are doing wrong and take steps to change their behavior.