Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on CALL Number 8. July 2022                       Pp. 177-191

Full Paper PDF

Gamifying ESL Classrooms through Gamified Teaching and Learning

1Nur Syafiqah Yaccob, 2Siti Fatimah Abd. Rahman, 3Syamsul Nor Azlan Mohamad,
4Azwin Arif Abdul Rahim, 2Khadijah Khalilah Abdul Rashid, 2Abdulmajid Mohammed
Abdulwahab Aldaba, 1Melor Md Yunus &1Harwati Hashim


1Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, Selangor
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, United States of America
2Kulliyyah of Education, International Islamic University Malaysia, 53100, Selangor
Corresponding Author:
3Curriculum Affairs Unit, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor
4Pusat Bahasa Moden, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, 26600 Pekan, Pahang

 Received: 02/27/22022           Accepted: 07/01/2022             Published:  07/25/2022


Modern trends lead to innovative technologies in education, including the birth of digital and gamified learning or gamification. In English language classrooms, meaningful teaching and learning are significant to developing students’ English proficiency, focusing on linguistics and communicative competence. Various language activities and games are employed in lessons to instil anticipation for language learning. However, the concerns are how gamified learning is applied in English as a Second Language (ESL) lessons and the factors assisting students’ meaningful English learning. Therefore, this paper, based on the review of past literature, explores the application of gamification or gamified learning in ESL teaching and learning. Based on the review, the researchers highlighted that motivation, engagement, and competition in learning through a gamification approach could assist students’ meaningful ESL learning. It is found that gamification has its own motivation structure to arouse students’ active participation. The elements in games that enhance students’ engagement might improve students’ learning. Although competition naturally arouses students’ participation during ESL lessons, the findings indicated the need to create a safe environment to prevent students from feeling demotivated. This review paper contributes to the literature surrounding gamified ESL lessons.
Keywords: digital games, English as a Second Language, gamification, gamified learning, meaningful learning

Cite as: Yaccob, N. S., Rahman, S. F. A., Mohamad, S. N. A., Rahim, A. A. A., Rashid, K. K. A., Aldaba, A. M. A., Yunus, M. M., & Hashim, H. (2022). Gamifying ESL Classrooms through Gamified Teaching and Learning  .  Arab World English Journal (AWEJ)
Special Issue on CALL (8)


Adris, N. B., & Yamat, H. (2015). Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) as virtual grounds for second language learning: players’ perception. Proceedings of the International Seminar on Language Teaching, (pp. 1-15), 4-5 February 2015. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia: Bangi. ISBN 978-983-9122-26-8.

Alomari, I., Al-Samarraie, H., & Yousef, R. (2019). The role of gamification technique in  promoting student learning: a review and
synthesis. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 18, 395-417. doi:

Alyaz, Y. & Genc, Z. S. (2016). Digital game-based language learning in foreign language  teacher education. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 17(4), 130-146.

ISSN 1302-6488.

An, Y. (2020). Designing effective gamified learning experiences. International Journal of Technology in Education,
3(2), 62-69. ERIC EJ1264027

Anak Yunus, C. C., & Hua, T. K. (2021). Exploring a gamified learning tool in the ESL  classroom: the case of Quizizz. Journal
of Education and e-Learning Research
, 8(1),    103-108. doi: 10.20448/journal.509.2021.81.103.108

Antonaci, A., Klemke, R., & Specht, M. (2019). The effects of gamification in online  learning environment: A systematic literature
review. Informatics, 6(3), 1-22.


Bal, M. (2019). Use of digital games in writing education: an action research on gamification. Contemporary Educational
, 10(3), 246-271. doi:

Boyinbode, O. (2018). Development of a gamification based English vocabulary mobile learning system. International Journal of
Computer Science and Mobile Computing
, 7(8), 183-191.  ISSN 2320-088X

Buckley, P., Doyle, E., & Doyle, S. (2017). Game on! students’ perceptions of gamified learning. Educational Technology &
, 20(3), 1-10. doi:

Chambers, G. J., & Yunus, M. M. (2017). Enhancing learners’ sentence constructions via  Wheel of Grammar”. Pertanika
Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities
, 25(4), 1641-1650. ISSN 0128-7702.

Chow, A. F., Woodford, K. C., & Maes, J. (2011). Deal of no deal: using games to improve student learning, retention and
decision-making. International Journal of  Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 42(2), 259-264.


Desnenko, S., Pakhomova, T., Starostina, S., & Tokareva, J. (2021). Gamification in the formation of    digital skills of future teachers.
E3S Web of Conferences, 273(12118),    1-7. doi: 10.1051/e3sconf/202127312118

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 19(2), 109-134. Doi:

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior.
Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268.


Ding, L, Kim, C. M., & Orey, M. (2020). Design of gamified asynchronous online  discussions. Technology, Pedagogy and Education,
29(5), 631–647.   doi: 10.1080/1475939X.2020.1801495

Fulton, J. N. (2019). Theory of gamification – motivation (Doctoral Thesis, William Howard  Taft University.

Hanus, M. D., & Fox, J. (2015). Assessing the effects of gamification in the classroom: A longitudinal study on intrinsic motivation,
social comparison, satisfaction, effort, and academic performance. Computers & Education, 80, 152–161.


Hashim, H., Rafiq, K. R. M., & Yunus, M. M. (2019). Improving ESL learners’ grammar  with gamified-learning. Arab World English Journal, 5, 41-50.


Hashim, H. U., Yunus, M. M., & Hashim, H. (2019). Video games: the game changer in teaching writing for ESL learning. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and  Change, 5(6), 164-172.

Ibrahim, N. (2016). Games for teaching grammar to young learners. Indonesian Journal of  Integrated English Language
, 2(1), 49-63.

Kijpoonphol, W., & Phumchanin, W. (2018). A comparison between traditional and gamified  teaching methods for phrasal verb:
a case of grade 10 students. TESOL International   Journal, 13(3), 56-65.

Kingsley, T. L., & Grabner-Hagen, M. M. (2018). Vocabulary by gamification. The Reading Teacher, 71(5), 545-555. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1645

Maasum, T. N. R. T. M., Mustaffa, R., & Stapa, S. H. (2015). Young learners’ perceptions of learning English using language games in a non-formal context. 6th International   Conference on Social Sciences (pp. 11-12), September, III, 104-112. Turkey: Istanbul. ISBN 9788890916335

Mee, R. W. M., Shahdan, T. S. T., Ismail, M. R., Ghani, K. A., Pek, L. S., Von, W. Y., Woo,   A., & Rao, Y. S. (2020). Role of gamification in classroom teaching: pre-service teachers’ view. International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education, 9(3),    684-690. doi: 10.11591/ijere.v9i3.20622

Mekler, E. D., Brühlmann, F., Tuch, A. N., & Opwis, K. (2017). Towards understanding the  effects of individual gamification elements on intrinsic motivation and performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 525-534.


Naggar, E. B., & Berkling, K. (2020). Designing a gamified reading app with pupils in elementary school. In K. M. Frederiksen,
S. Larsen, L. Bradley, & S. Thouseny (Eds). CALL for widening participation: short papers from EUROCALL 2020 (pp. 63-68).

Pazilah, F. N., Hashim, H., & Yunus, M. M. (2019). Benefits of gamification towards different learning styles in language learning. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change, 5(6), 81-89.

Pham, L. L. N., Nguyen, H. T., & Le, V. T. K. (2021). Triggering students’ learning autonomy using the combination of M-learning and gamification: a case study at  Nguyen Tat Thanh University. Teaching English with Technology, 21(2), 66-91. eISSN 1642-1027

Pektas, M., & Kepceoglu, I. (2019). What do prospective teachers think about educational  gamification? Science Education International, 30(1), 65-74. eISSN 2077-2327

Poondej, C., & Lerdpornkulrat, T. (2016). The development of gamified learning activities to  increase student engagement in learning. Australian Educational Computing, 31(2), 1-16. Retrieved from

Rahmani, E. F. (2020). The benefits of gamification in the English learning context. Indonesian Journal of English education, 7(1), 2020, 32-47. doi:

Rafiq, K. R. M., Hashim, H., Yunus, M. M., & Pazilah, F. N. (2019a). Gamified-learning to  teach ESL grammar: students’ perspective. Religacion Revista de Ciencias Sociales y     Humanidades, 4(20), 24-29. ISSN 2477-9083

Rafiq, K. R. M., Pazilah, F. N., Yunus, M. M., Hashim, H., & Sabri, M. H. M. (2019b). Gamified-learning brings out the hero in you! Proceedings International Invention,  Innovative & Creative Conference, 2019, 67-71. ISBN: 978-967-17324-4-1

Sanchez-Mena, A., & Marti-Parreno, J. (2017). Drivers and barriers to adopting gamification: teachers’ perspectives. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 15(5), 434-443.  eISSN 1479-4403

Subhash, S., & Cudney, E. A. (2018). Gamified learning in higher education: systematic review of the   literature. Computers in Human Behavior, 87, 192-206. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2018.05.028

Tan, Y. L. L. (2018). Meaningful gamification and students’ motivation: a strategy for scaffolding reading material. Online
, 22(2), 141-155. doi: 10.24059/olj.v22i2.1167

Tenorio, T., Bittencourt, I. I., Isotani, S., Pedro, A., & Ospina, P. (2016). A gamified peer assessment model for online learning environments in a competitive context. Computers in Human Behavior, 64, 247–263. doi:

Tsay, C. H. H., Kofinas, A., & Luo, J. (2018). Enhancing student learning experience with     technology-mediated gamification: An empirical study. Computers & Education, 121,  1–17. doi:

Vargas-Macias, Z. L., Rodriguez-Hernandez, A. A., & Sanchez-Saenz, C. L. (2020). Digital games (gamification) in learning and training: an approach to adaptation and  integration in the classroom. GIST Education and Learning Research Journal, 20, 171-188.

Welbers, K., Konjin, E. A., Burgers, C., de Vaate, A. B., Eden, A., & Brugman, B. C. (2019). Gamification as a tool for engaging student learning: a field experiment with a gamified app. E-learning and Digital Media, 16(2), 92-109.

Yaccob, N. S., & Yunus, M. M. (2019). Language Games in Teaching and Learning English  Grammar: A Literature Review. Arab World English Journal, 10(1), 209-217.  doi:


Received: 02/27/22022  
Accepted: 07/01/2022
Published: 07/25/2022 

Nur Syafiqah Yaccob is a teacher in Malaysia and a doctorate student taking TESL at the National University of Malaysia. She has previously published papers and is interested in the use of technology in ESL classrooms, global competence in teaching and learning, teachers’ professional development as well as teaching and learning pedagogy.

Siti Fatimah Abd Rahman is an Assistant Professor at the department of language and literacy, Kulliyyah of Education, International Islamic University Malaysia, IIUM. Her research interest includes English as a Second Language (ESL), technology-enhanced language learning, flipped learning, online learning, and technology acceptance.

Syamsul Nor Azlan Mohamad is a technologist (Ts.) as well as an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia. He is currently a Director of Academic Assessment and Evaluation Division in Universiti Teknologi MARA. He is actively engaged with KPM as an expert and speaker in promoting innovative and alternative assessments in higher education.

Azwin Arif Abdul Rahim is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Modern Languages, Universiti Malaysia Pahang. He has 22 years of experience in teaching at the tertiary institution level. Graduated with a PhD in TESL from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He is now in the field of MLearning, ESP and Apple technology in education.

Khadijah Khalilah Abdul Rashid obtained her PhD in Arabic Linguistic Studies from International Islamic University Malaysia specializing in Corpus Linguistic and Semantic. She is an assistant professor at the Department of Language and Literacy at Kulliyyah of Education, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

Abdulmajid Mohammed Aldaba is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Foundation and Educational Leadership, Kulliyyah of Education, IIUM. Additionally, as a trainer in quantitative data analysis, he has conducted several workshops in SPSS, and structural equation modelling (AMOS and Smart-PLS).

Melor Md Yunus is an Professor and also the Deputy Dean (Research and Innovation) at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). She earned her Ph.D. in Education (TESL) from the University of Bristol, UK. Her areas of concentration are TESL, language pedagogy and the use of technology in TESL. Her expertise is in the area of Technology- Enhanced Language Learning (TELL).  ORCID:

Harwati Hashim is an Associate Professor at the Department of Teaching and Learning Innovations, Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). Her areas of concentration are; ESL, mobile learning, Mobile-assisted Language Learning (MALL), technology acceptance as well as language pedagogy and the use of technology in teaching ESL. ORCID: