Researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Karlstad University in Sweden found that young people who play a lot of interactive English computer games gain an advantage in terms of their English vocabulary compared with those who do not play or only play a little.
The study involved 76 young people aged 10-11. Data was collected via questionnaires and a so-called language diary.
This was used to list all encounters with the English language outside school, such as using the computer and playing digital games.
Among other things, the study investigated whether there was any correlation between playing digital games and motivation to learn English, self-assessed English linguistic ability and strategies used to speak English.
The results indicated that there is a major difference between the genders when it comes to computer gaming.
Boys spend an average of 11.5 hours a week playing, while girls spent less than half that time, 5.1 hours. Girls instead spent far more time (11.5 hours) than boys (8 hours) on language-related activities online, primarily on Facebook.
The computer games that appear to be most effective for the development of English vocabulary are those known as Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), a genre of role-playing computer games in which a large number of players interact with one another in a virtual world.
"As a player you simply have to be able to understand what's being said, to read English and to interact yourself by both writing and speaking English," said Liss Kerstin Sylven, Associate Professor at the University of Gothenburg, who conducted the study together with Pia Sundqvist, Senior Lecturer in English at Karlstad University.