Language learning beyond the classroom

selective focus photography of man facing computer
Photo by hitesh choudhary on


In Sweden, the topic of the language learning that happens outside the classroom was brought to the attention of many teachers through Pia Sundqvist’s Ph.D. thesis:

Sundqvist, P. (2009). Extramural English matters: Out-of-school English and its impact on Swedish ninth graders’ oral proficiency and vocabulary (Doctoral dissertation, Karlstad University).

Well worth reading, or at least delving into parts of! Pia has continued her work in this area, and another open-access text:

Sundqvist, P. (2019). Commercial-off-the-shelf games in the digital wild and L2 learner vocabulary. Language Learning & Technology, 23(1), 87–113.

Hayo Reinders and Phil Benson, both based in Australia, are also key players in the field of Language learning beyond the classroom. This article from 2017 set out a research agenda:

Reinders, H., & Benson, P. (2017). Research agenda: Language learning beyond the classroom. Language Teaching, 50(4), 561-578.

Reading questions – feel free to comment on these questions, the readings, the interview or anything else relevant to the topic in the comments section at the end of this page

  1. What is your own experience of language learning beyond the classroom, as a learner or as a teacher?
  2. Do you recognise the aspects that Pia mentions in her article about learners’ vocabulary and their gaming habits?
  3. Reinders and Benson point out that “classroom learners can also engage in language beyond the classroom”. Can teachers encourage this, or must the entire activity be learner initiated?


We are delighted to have had the opportunity to interview Pia Sundqvist herself about her work in the area of extramural English.

Pia refers to the work of James Paul Gee, e.g. Gee, J. P. (2007). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Revised and updated edition. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. That is a book, and not available through open access, but Gee wrote this open access article which may be of interest:

Gee, J. P. (2013). Learning systems, not games. Texas Education Review, 1.

There was a live conversation about Language learning beyond the classroom on 30 September 2021.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.