Breaking with Tradition: Video Games as an Alternative Tool for ESL Instruction in Puerto Rico’s Public Schools

By: Prof. Kenneth Horowitz, Adjunct Instructor — Pontifical University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus


Puerto Rico’s public school system has been teaching English as a second language for more than a century but has been unable to increase proficiency rates among students at all levels. A lack of physical and economical resources, combined with a disconnect at the governmental and educational levels, have resulted in an island population that not only does not speak English but sees the language as little more than a tool for employment. Many Puerto Ricans have little or no opportunity to actively connect what they learn in the English classroom to their daily lives due to the absence of a true English-speaking environment. It is possible that video games may serve to bridge the gap between academic content and home life by offering persistent opportunities to use English in authentic contexts and in real time.