Regarding participants’ experience communicating in English while working on digital game activities, they gave a favorable rating to their overall experience (M = 3.8, SD = .4), thus suggesting a high level of willingness to communicate. Most of them claimed that they liked communicating in a gaming environment because of the fact that playing and having opportunities for language use went together and enabled them to communicate without anxiety or embarrassment. In addition, all of the participants realized that game play helped them improve their second language communication in a number of ways. Here are some of the reasons given by the participants.
However, what the majority of the participants disliked about communicating in English during game play was the use of abbreviations, emoticons, smileys, simple words, and ungrammatical sentences to communicate because they felt that over-use of these would not contribute to their accuracy and complexity in language production.
Chen and Johnson (2004) “modded” a commercial role playing game called Neverwinter Nights (Bioware, 2002) to investigate whether a digital game simulating a foreign language learning context could promote a state of ‘flow’ and motivate students to practise language skills (Spanish in the case of this study) outside of the classroom. The authors used questionnaires, video transcripts, field notes, and a post-game interview to investigate this but realised that there were significant differences in the amount of experience the participants had with playing games, and that this strongly affected their ability to play the game successfully. For example, the one participant who did have previous game-playing experience felt more comfortable in the game, spent less time accomplishing the tasks, and self-reported a higher level of enjoyment and flow in the game than the other participants. This study thus highlighted the importance of sufficient training, both to encourage greater success in playing the game, and to minimise the possibility of differences between students acting as a confounding factor in subsequent analyses.
Interaction is the term used to refer to the interpersonal activity that takes place both face-to-face and electronically between people or between people and computer, as well as the intrapersonal activity that occurs within our minds (Chapelle, 2001). Interaction in the foreign language has been found to contribute to language acquisition. Interaction helps generate comprehensible input (Krashen, 1985), encourages negotiation of meaning (Pica, 1994), facilitates noticing (Schmidt, 1990), produces negative feedback (Schmidt ibid), and encourages output (Swain, 1985). Swain’s Output Hypothesis (1985) posits that for successful second language acquisition to occur comprehensible input alone is insufficient but learners must also be given opportunities to try out new language and produce comprehensible output during interaction, which, in turn enables them to develop competence in the target language.
For comprehensible output to be produced, however, learners have to be pushed in their language production. Pica (1994) claimed that negotiation of meaning helps learners make input comprehensible and helps them modify their own output, and, in turn, provides opportunities for them to acquire new language. Similar claims for the benefits of negotiation have been made by Long (1996) in his Interaction Hypothesis. According to Long, negotiation of meaning during interaction contributes significantly to second language comprehension and the negative feedback received through negotiation facilitates second language development, particularly for vocabulary, morphology, and syntax. Negotiation also provides opportunities for learners to focus their attention on linguistic form and to notice aspects of the target language. Noticing has been considered important because when input is noticed, it can become intake, i.e. input that the learner has comprehended semantically and syntactically, which facilitates acquisition (Schmidt 1990). In addition, noticing pushes learners into a more syntactic processing mode that will help them to internalise new forms and improve the accuracy of their existing grammatical knowledge.
Thus far, I have tried to address the treatment implications for the first three executive function deficits in the model of ADHD created here: working memory, internalized speech, and self-regulated motivation. How to deal with the problem of reconstitution predicted to be deficient in those with ADHD seems to me to be more difficult to address. If more were known about the process of analysis/synthesis and the behavioral creativity to which it gives rise, ways of externalizing this process might be more evident and useful to those with ADHD in this domain of their executive deficits. Perhaps taking the problem assigned to the ADHD individual and placing its parts on some externally represented material would help, along with prompting and guidance as to how to take apart and move about these forms of information to recombine them into more useful forms. Adults seem to do this when struggling with a difficult problem; they make their previous internal forms of problem-solving behavior external. For instance, we see this when people talk to themselves out loud when solving a difficult puzzle or acquisition of a complex procedure; begin to doodle on a pad, playing with certain designs; free associate publicly to the topic of the problem under discussion; or even reduce a number of words to slips of paper or pieces of magnets and then randomly reshuffle them to create new arrangements. (The game Magnetic Poetry does this with words on small magnetic strips, as Boggle, Scrabble, and anagrams do with letters.) Regardless, the point of this discussion is the same as for the other executive functions – by externalizing what should otherwise be internally represented information and even externalizing the process by which that information is being generated caregivers may be able to assist those with ADHD in compensating for their weak executive functions. Again, such structuring of tasks and contexts must be sustained over long periods if the gains it initially achieves are to be sustained as well.
The use of private visual imagery as well as private language so as to mentally represent objects, actions, and their properties provides a means by which the world can be taken apart and recombined cognitively rather than physically. The delay in responding allows time for events to be held in mind and then disassembled so as to extract more information about the event before preparing a response to it. Internal imagery and speech permit analysis (taking apart) and out of this process comes its complement-synthesis (recombinations). Just as the parts of speech can be recombined to form new sentences, the parts of the world represented in speech and imagery are, likewise, recombined to create entirely new ideas about the world and entirely new responses to that world (Bronowski, 1977). The world is seen as having parts rather than inviolate wholes – parts capable of multiple, novel recombinations. This permits humans a far greater capacity for creativity and problem solving than is evident in our closest primate relatives. I believe this process results from the internalization of play. Just as speech goes from being overt to self-directed and then covert, so does manipulative and verbal play. This process of mental play, or reconstitution, is evident in everyday speech in its fluency and generativity (diversity) yet it is also evident in nonverbal expression as well, such as in motor and design fluency. The need for reconstitution becomes obvious when obstacles must be surmounted to accomplish a goal. In a sense, reconstitution provides for planning and problem solving to overcome obstacles and attain goals. This mental module produces rapid, efficient, and often novel combinations of speech or action into entirely new messages or behavioral sequences and so gives rise to behavioral innovation.
The four executive functions are believed to develop via a common process. All represent private, covert forms of behavior that at one time in early child development (and in human evolution) were entirely publicly observable and were directed toward others and the external world at large. With maturation, this outer-directed behavior becomes turned on the self as a means to control one’s own behavior. Such self-directed behaving then becomes increasingly less observable to others as the suppression of the public, peripheral musculo-skeletal aspects of the behavior progresses. The child is increasingly able to act toward themselves without publicly displaying the actual behavior being activated. This progressively greater capacity to suppress the publicly observable aspects of behavior is what is meant here by the terms “covert, privatized, or internalized.” The child comes to be capable of behaving internally (in their brain) without showing that response through their peripheral muscles, at least not to the extent that it is visible to others. As I have discussed elsewhere (Barkley, 1997b, 2001c), this behavior-to-the-self can still be detected in very subtle, vestigial forms as slight shifts in muscle potential at those peripheral sites involving the muscles used in performing the public form of that behavior (e.g., when one engages in verbal thought, one still slightly moves their lips, tongue, larynx, etc.). In this sense, all of the executive functions follow the same general sequence as the internalization of speech (Diaz & Berk, 1992; Vygotsky, 1978, 1987), which in this model forms the second executive function.
Little is known about the control of these pathways, so that it is difficult to predict from the structure of a chemical alone what effects it will have on the kidney.
It should be evident from the research reviewed here that ADHD arises from multiple etiologies, neurological and genetic factors being substantial ones. Like Nigg (2006) and Taylor (1999), I envision ADHD as having a heterogeneous etiology with various developmental pathways leading to this behavioral syndrome. These various etiologies and pathways, however, may give rise to the disorder through disturbances in a final common pathway in the nervous system. That pathway appears to be the integrity of the prefrontal cortical-striatal-cerebellar networks. It now appears that hereditary factors play the largest role in the occurrence of ADHD symptoms in children. It may be that what is transmitted genetically is a tendency toward smaller and less active or even defective prefrontal-striatal-cerebellar networks. The condition can also be caused or exacerbated by pregnancy complications, exposure to toxins, or neurological disease. Social factors alone cannot be supported as causal of this disorder but such factors may contribute to its persistence, and, more likely, contribute to the forms of comorbid disorders and the domains of impairment associated with ADHD. Cases of ADHD can also arise without a genetic predisposition to the disorder provided the child is exposed to significant disruption or neurological injury to this final common neurologic pathway, but this would seem to account for only a small minority of ADHD children. In general, then, research conducted since the last edition of this course has further strengthened the evidence for genetic and developmental neurological factors as likely causal of this disorder while greatly reducing the support for purely social or environmental factors as having a role.