MOL sweden - Children are often discouraged from playing video games because it can distract them from their school work.

But now new research claims gaming could actually improve their performance at school by boosting their language skills and vocabulary.

In particular, Swedish scientists found that Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) have the greatest positive effect on learning.

The research from the University of Gothenburg and Karlstad University in Sweden studied 76 children aged 10 and 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 discovered a major difference between the genders when it comes to computer gaming.

According to the results, boys spend an average of 11.5 hours a week playing, while girls spend less than half that time, 5.1 hours.Girls instead spend far more time than boys - 11.5 hours compared to eight hours - on language-related activities online, primarily on Facebook.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) are 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 Sylvén, Associate Professor at the University of Gothenburg, who conducted the study together with Pia Sundqvist, Senior Lecturer in English at Karlstad University.The results from the study underline the results from other studies conducted by both researchers which found regular gamers have a significantly better English vocabulary than others.

The importance of coming into contact with English outside school, for example by reading English or, as in this case, by playing computer games, means a lot in terms of young people’s English vocabulary.It also has positive effects on what happens at school in the classroom.

‘The subject of English at school and the English that the young people encounter and use in their leisure time are not two separate worlds,’ added Professor Sylvén.