This study presents a qualitative approach to exploring classroom behaviour using dramaturgical analysis of student interactions in relation with, and as mediated through, a gesture-based gaming software among L2 learners of English at two international branch campuses in the Arabian Gulf where face-to-face interactions between unrelated members of the opposite sex are generally discouraged. We investigated whether Avatar Kinect might provide a safe way for young males and females to interact while discussing social issues in a composition course. Data were collected through personal observation and survey. Five key themes emerged from the study. First, some participants chose to perform at front stage and others chose to remain back stage. Second, front stage participants chose avatars with gender and skin colour similar to themselves. Third, all participants appeared to be engaged in the interactive role play processes and with one another. Fourth, front stage actors appeared to act without inhibition. Finally, all participants expressed frustration with technology shortcomings.


Gesture-Based Learning, ESL/EFL, Drama, Virtual, Avatar, Middle East

Author Bio(s)

Robert Bianchi is an Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. He holds an MA in Theoretical & Applied Linguistics from York University, Canada and PhD in Applied Linguistics from Lancaster University, UK. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Robert has lived in Japan, Oman, the UAE, and Qatar. His research interests are vast, covering areas such as corpus-assisted discourse analysis of religious texts, code-switching, online identity, language planning, EFL teacher training in developing countries, and educational technology. Robert has presented his research at conferences around the world. Among his current research projects are media constructions of ethnic groups in international press and Augmented/Virtual Reality (AVR) for design education. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: rmbianchi@vcu.edu.

Byrad Yyelland holds an EdD in Educational Leadership - Higher Education (2010), MA in Sociology (1992) and BA(Hons) in Psychology (1988). Byrad is a Canadian living in Doha, Qatar where he serves as Interim Director of the Liberal Arts & Sciences program at VCUarts Qatar and teaches undergraduate sociology and anthropology, along with serving on committees for MFA students. His research interests span a variety of contexts but the underlying theme is always how we interpret reality and our emotional and behavioural actions based on those interpretations. Byrad is a nationally recognized instructor, a published author and he has extensive experience conducting qualitative research and public presentation. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: bayyelland@vcu.edu.

Joseph John Yang is a Canadian currently working at the College North Atlantic – Qatar as an instructional developer. Previously, for over 20 years, he taught computer studies in Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden and Qatar. Joseph has a post-graduate certificate in Instructional Design (University of Wisconsin – Stout, U.S.A., 2016), MSc in education and leadership (the University of Leicester, UK, 2007) and an Honor BSc in Computer Science (University of Western Ontario, Canada, 1985). His current position has enabled him to explore and include new learning technologies for the engineering and health sciences curriculum. Joseph’s current interests are to apply Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and 360VR technologies for education. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: mrjjyang@gmail.com.

Dr. Molly McHarg is an American educator with vast international teaching and work experience, primarily focusing on TESOL and writing. She spent years on the executive boards of Qatar TESOL and remains active as the Past President of the Middle East North Africa Writing Center Alliance. For more about Dr. McHarg, visit: http://mollymcharg.weebly.com/. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: mollypmcharg@gmail.com.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.