The importance Of Language Learning Through Play.

Guest Blog for MOOC Participants




I met Katie during the Teachers Teaching Online MOOC, followed by the iTDi MOOC. She was one of those vibrant participants who got involved in everything and enriched so many of our webinar sessions. In fact, I believe that she must have attended most of the sessions. We continued to meet everywhere online after that. At the iTDi MOOC and on facebook where Katie would share posts and ideas about professional development and offer so much encouragement to presenters such as myself.

It was after my presentation about Creative Thinking Skills For Teachers that Katie and I had an inspiring chat on facebook , firing so many ideas around that I just had to invite her to write a guest article for us.

Well, actually, I initially asked her to co-write a topic with me but when she presented her ideas to me, I felt that she had her own topic so fully developed that she should publish separately.

I’ve felt the urge to host a guest blogging section on WiziQ ever since the Spring Blog Festival with Dr.Nellie Deutsch and Shelly Terrell. Katie inspired me to just do it and I got my blog manager to give us the green light immediately.

The reason why I wish to encourage guest blogging for MOOC participants is that many teachers following the MOOCs want to get started in online education one way or another. They have so much to share that I believe MOOCs are the perfect vehicle for getting teachers together through webinars and discussion threads and then transforming the experience into a new lifelong form of expression through community supported blogging.

Katie has a rich and fascinating bio with a wealth of cultural and linguistic experience. I’m delighted to feature her thoughts and experiences here.




Katie Longxinyu Burgess is an experienced ESL teacher with a multicultural background.She was raised in Europe, though educated in both Europe and the United States of America. Having taught in the US, Europe and in China, she has a unique experience of teaching students in multicultural and diverse environments. This experience has also enabled her to develop cultural sensitivity, a keen appreciation of inter-cultural influences and an enthusiasm for educational diversity.

As for teaching she mainly focuses on enriching vocabulary, facilitating pronunciation and helping students overcome shyness by implementing games and fun activities into their curriculum.


Here is Katie’s article on the importance of play in education


(from the perspective of Krashen’s Affective Filter Hypothesis)

 Krashen’s theory on second language acquisition is well known and practiced among language teachers. His fifth hypothesis, the Affective Filter hypothesis made me think of why learning a language through playing should be the most natural form of learning in classrooms.

“According to the affective filter hypothesis, certain emotions, such as anxiety, self-doubt, and mere boredom interfere with the process of acquiring a second language. They function as a filter between the speaker and the listener that reduces the amount of language input the listener is able to understand. These negative emotions prevent efficient processing of the language input. The hypothesis further states that the blockage can be reduced by sparking interest, providing low-anxiety environments, and bolstering the learner’s self-esteem.”

(Krashen S)

What is play?


Play is entertaining, spontaneous, requires creativity and should come from inner motivation. Since it is fun, anxiety levels should be low or non-existent and that’s where the fifth hypothesis, the Affective Filter hypothesis comes in: according to Krashen low anxiety levels are conducive to learning. Playing games comes naturally to children but with age somehow, this discovery through play turns into – or rather is turned into ” stressful” connotations of uninspired work.

(And who wants to ‘work’ anyway?)

“Working” has a negative connotation to begin with and it’s basically quite the opposite of playing when  forced upon learners. This type of work is not child-initiated, spontaneous or voluntary.


If one keeps in mind Krashen’s view on low anxiety level and its facilitating factor, then teachers should implement as many ways of playing into their teaching as possible: if children initially learn about their whole world and their environment through play, then why should anyone change this process into something that is not natural?


In other words, the process of learning through play should be kept beyond their young age and implemented into their school education, all the way through.
If playing is fun, natural and motivating then let’s turn all classrooms into a giant playground where kids actually want to be, want to participate and are eager to return to.

“The Affective Filter hypothesis implies that our pedagogical goals should not only include supplying comprehensible input, but also creating a situation that encourages a low filter.”
” The effective language teacher is someone who can provide input and
help make it comprehensible in a low anxiety situation.”

(Krashen S.)



Interestingly, I feel that this new guest blog series ties in with Shelly Terrell’s new Eduhero challenge for teachers.

This challenge is a call to action. It invites teachers to answer the call of inspiration and step over the first threshold into adventure, growth, inspiration and making a difference in education.

Shelly Invited me to present the iTDi keynote speech with her recently where we outlined the adventure in terms of the Heroe’s Journey by Thomas Campbell.

This guest blog challenge is for all MOOC participants on any of the WiziQ MOOCS to share their thoughts and ideas here. This could be the first step towards setting up your own blogs or even getting more involved in online teaching and professional development.

Katie Lonxinyu Burgess has answered this call. In our keynote presentation, Shelly stated that the average teacher touches the lives of at least 3,000 students. This amazing fact gives us so much power to influence students for the greater good and make the world a better place.

Katie shared her own numbers with us:

“Just in China in 2 years 1000 high school students and about double of that from holding demo classes in the region, 3-400 students at a time. and from the previous years since 1990 around 1200 more, so it would be roughly over 5000 -got lucky with China!”


Even if we reach only ten students, those ten will reach ten more …..and so positive influence goes on to multiply and create a ripple effect.

To learn more about the Eduhero webinar, the iTDi Mooc, The heroe’s journey and this call to action please check out the following:

Closing keynote: League of Eduheroes by Shelly Terrell and Sylvia Guinan

This year to be an Eduhero by Shelly Terrell

Why professional development should be like child’s play by Sylvia Guinan
What we do with professional development online through MOOCs, blogs and social media makes a massive difference in the large scheme of things.

Here is an interesting concept I picked up from  a lovely book I’m reading now called “Show your work” by Austin Kleon.

“From genius to scenius”

Austin Kleon means that its a misconception to think that prolific writers, artists or bloggers are ‘geniuses ‘who work alone waiting to be  struck by sudden inspiration. The truth is that all successful professionals  work within networks.

“The ‘lone genius is a dangerous myth’ and under the scenius model great ideas are often birthed by groups of creative individuals who make up an ecology of talent”

Austin kleon

Are you ready to join the ‘ ecologies of talent’ on our MOOC blogs, Hero’s journey and Edugoals?

Welcome, we’re waiting.

Very special thanks to Katie Longxinyu Burgess for her inspiring article and experiences.

Finally, the best way to get the feel for all of this will be through the upcoming Fall Blog Festival where I’ll present on guest blogging, ecologies of talent,  the blogosphere, sharing your unique voice online, and much more.


Krashen, S ,”Principles and practice in second language acquisition“, 1982, Pergamon Press Inc.

Kleon, A, 2014, Thomas Allen & son limited.


Sylvia Guinan

is an online English teacher, writer and blogger who facilitates professional development online. She uses brain-friendly techniques to help students and teachers around the world. She designs educational materials, develops courses, writes resource papers and publishes ebooks. Her work is the result of much research into the psychology of learning, as well as hands-on experience with multi-media technology.

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