This thesis examines the impact of guided and exploratory language play by interpreters. Interpreters in the current study participated in a pre-survey, engaged in an ASL language play group that engaged in language play through the phone app Marco Polo, reported their experiences in a nine-part reflective journal on their ASL and interpreting skills, and took a post-survey. The timeline of the play group was one week, where participants completed all the components of the study.

Chapter one introduces the concept of general play and language play. It provides a definition of terms, which revolve around play and play groups, and states the problem of interpreting programs not providing the tools to play with language. It also provides the theoretical basis of this paper, which is grounded in Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The curriculum was built on the concept of scaffolding information found in the theory of ZPD. Chapter two provides the literature review defining play, its benefits and impacts, play in the work place, and tangential subject of collaborative learning, which happens in play. The literature repeats several variables that were brought into the design of the study, such as creativity, flexibility, working with people, and level of enjoyment.

Chapter three discusses the mixed methodology of qualitative and quantitative questions in the pre- and post-survey, with the “treatment” as the language play group and the reflective journal. The study was designed to provide a baseline data with the pre-survey and see if changes occurred after engaging in the treatment or play group. In the play group, participants played and watched language games using both languages ASL and English, which are described in full in the methodology section.

Chapter four is the discussion and results, which shows that interpreters increased in their ASL and English creativity, ASL fluency, and flexibility with teams. The data showed that most participants learned ASL by watching and copying others, and the data reported in the reflective journal supports the participants enjoyed watching others played the game by using terms like entertaining, educational, and curious. Chapter five is the discussion, which points to the importance of giving interpreters the tools to play with language and outlines how that can benefit their linguistic skills. Lastly, chapter six is the summary, the conclusion, that playing with language can benefit interpreters, and recommendations for researchers to continue studying interpreters’ linguistic development through play.

Exit Requirement


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies

Committee Chair

Amanda Smith

Committee Member

Elisa Maroney

Committee Member

Wanette Reynolds


Play in interpreting, language play, play



Type (DCMI Terms)


Subject Categories

Education | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures

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