Since the introduction of video games during the 1900s, it has been rather questionable what the use of them for children in terms of education. It would not be too exaggerating to say that video games are widely believed to be merely for recreation, especially in Thailand. Despite some existing interactive computer games for children in their early childhood, most Thai parents and educators tend to view those video games, regardless of being online or offline, as a waste of time and money. Yet, they are not prohibited, though some curfews for those under age of 18 to play the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), and it seems that children are rather prone to be addicted to them. Furthermore, there are a good number of researchers in education and games development, particularly outside Thailand, conducting research in order to investigate the relationship between computer games and education.
According to Gee (2003), many people have to expose themselves to the idea of learning from ‘good’ computer and video games. He also proposes that games and game technologies can be used to enhance learning. Steinhuehler (2007) then proves that there are indeed literacy practices in MMORPGs. She even claims that MMORPGs are not simply replacing literacy practices, but rather they are the literacy practices, at least in their context. This perspective is supported by Sarsar (2008). He finds that there is a huge amount of learning occurring when children play video games, though their negative effects are also realised. One major negative effect seems to be the game addiction. There are also a number of recent research, particularly in Thailand, on factors and tendency of such addition. However, Sarsar insists that, as a researcher or an educator, solely focusing on the negative effects of video games would certainly exclude the possibility to consider how best video games can be implemented to help children learn what they are wanted to learn.
This paper will try to answer the question: What can Thai students of English learn from MMORPGs? In order to do so, firstly, it will examine the attitude of Thai students towards English literacy and English language teaching in Thailand. It will then focus on what literacy children possibly can learn from MMORPGs. Finally, it will also investigate some drawbacks of video games, and possibly reasons behind those disadvantages.
English Language Teaching in Thailand
Prapphal (2001) investigated English proficiency of Thai students and surprisingly found out that the majority of the students could not meet the standard requirement to study at the graduate level. Her results indicate that the average English proficiency of Thai students is rather lower than that of students from other ASEAN countries (See Table 1). Though the overall average TOEFL scores of Thai students ranks eighth, those who applied for graduate program at Chulalongkorn University were still below average. Prapphal assumes...