Gamifying vocabulary learning: A Moodle-based learning activity for the Academic Word List

Mark Sinnott and Ling Xia


Gamification, the ‘use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts’ (Werbach and Hunter, 2012), has become an emerging trend in education. However, insufficient research has yet considered how gamification could help young adult second-language learners acquire academic vocabulary in an EAP context. This paper describes a recent project at a Sino-British university in Suzhou, China, which sought to gamify learning of academic vocabulary on its Moodle online portal. The paper describes how the Moodle plug-in Level Up was purchased, customised and incorporated into the student learning management portal. It is hoped that Level Up’s gamified elements, such as avatars, points, badges, leaderboards and other interactive features, will improve student engagement and facilitate better learning of vocabulary. Other possible benefits include easier revision, greater efficiency for teachers, improved progress monitoring and potential use in continuous assessment.