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Hello and a Happy New Year from ELT Sandbox!2015 came and went in fits and bursts, much like my posts on this blog.
For most of its (brief) existence, this blog has focused on commercial games and related media and how they can be used to inspire learners to learn and produce more language. This is the first in a series of planned reviews of games with potential for the language classroom accompanied by screencasted videos (see below), which I hope you will find useful in your own explorations of the potential of digital games for language learning. Influent is a 'language learning game' offering players the chance to explore a 3D world and interact with hundreds of different objects. As words are 'collected,' there is the chance to play 'time attack' games in which you must locate the items in your character's apartment.
To be fair, the game does claim to focus 'primarily on vocabulary acquisition and pronunciation' so it may seem harsh to judge it for its lack of much more than a series of words. I think this would work great to get people used to the sounds of the language they are learning and as a way to motivate people to learn more. Students could also be required to take screenshots to prove and show where they had found each object (a good idea also as some objects appear more than once in different locations).
As your students become familiar with the game and basic sentence structures, it is naturally a good idea to push them into more comprehensive and cohesive language production.
Describe Andrew's day as he is stuck in the confines of his apartment learning various words in multiple languages. It's all about going beyond the words on offer and running with the potential ideas on offer. It's great to see time and effort invested in something more than the banal 'learning games' I have seen that accompany some YL coursebook titles. And don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more ELT Sandbox Showcase videos in the future! As mentioned in my last post, there was a regrettable lack of sessions on game-based learning at this year's IATEFL Conference. Heading into Elena Peresada's "How to Gamify Your Class" session, I was wondering what the talk would be like. It quickly became clear that this was something Elena was passionate about and her immediate energy and enthusiasm for the topic helped keep my initial skepticism at bay.
Elena talked us through her journey into gamification, describing how at first she was searching for a way to motivate and engage her students more. Christien obviously focused on gamification in test prep classes aiming to present universal adaptable activites for helping students get ready for any number of exams, or alternatively to use in text-based lessons.
The contrast with Elena's talk was interesting in that while she built an entire series of lessons around gamification, Christien preferred to use it sparingly so the novelty would not wear off. I like Christien's approach of identifying a problem and then looking at how gamification can help solve it. Prior to this year's #IATEFL conference, an asynchronous exchange took place out there in the social media corner of the world wide web in which Paul Driver asked why there were seemingly no presentations on game-based learning at the conference this year. It seemed that the only truly GBL session this year would be my 'showcase' presentation for the LTSIG PCE on using the game app Can You Escape?
Even though the game was only part of Dave's It's MALL and it's Wonderful session, he still shared a couple of ideas that I didn't so this post is to highlight them. In my session, I had overlooked the game's in-built video walkthroughs in favour of getting students to engage with the text of the ones written and posted online. In this idea, Dave supplies his students with walkthroughs that have factual errors in them.
In short, there are many, many ways to get students to engage with this simple yet challenging game. This post comes to you from a surprisingly sunny Manchester, where I am attending my first IATEFL Conference.
As I announced in my last post, I have started a game-based learning club at my new school. It has been an exciting couple of months for ELT Sandbox in the new surroundings of Libreville, Gabon.
It came to my attention the other day that Electronic Arts, ahead of the release of The Sims 4, has made The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection available for free!! Last Saturday (April 27), I presented a session showcasing how my students have used Minecraft for their story writing and project work as part of the 7th Virtual Round Table Web Conference.
It all started, as it often does, in the confines of an ordinary classroom during a routine English Language Skills lesson.
Having looked at Mykhailo Noshchenko's session on game-based learning last week, here is my second online report for IATEFL Online, this time looking at Karenne Sylvester's session about gamification (both of which also provide a neat follow up to my recent look at game-based learning and gamification). Underwater volcanoes also known as  Submarine volcanoes are found under ocean and can generally eject into air after eruption. Loihi is an undersea mountain located in south-west of High Island in Hawaii rising approximately 3000meters above the Pacific Ocean.
Yasur volcano is located in Tannu Island, Vanuatu The first ever eruption discovered here was in 1774. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Sumatra is an Island located in Western Indonesia. If you like this post, you may also like to follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to this blog by Email or RSS feed!
Clipping is a handy way to collect and organize the most important slides from a presentation. The fourth quarter to be released by the United States Mint in 2012 as part of a multi-year series is the 2012 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quarter. This image of the 2012 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quarter design was released by the United States Mint.
The America the Beautiful Quarters series will see a total of fifty-six strikes released as part of it, including of course, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quarter. Design suggestions for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quarter were submitted and reviewed by several appointed groups and individuals, including the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee and the United States Commission of Fine Arts.
The following three quarters will be released in 2012 before the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quarter: El Yunque National Forest Quarter, Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarter, and the Acadia National Park Quarter. More recently, the volcano Kilauea, which has been erupting since 1983, offers visitors glimpses of lava flows as they pour down the mountain and into the ocean. The terrain in this park is unique as there are volcanic deserts, rain forests, and other varieties of terrain.
The park was significantly expanded in 2004 with the purchase of over 110,000 acres of land from the Samuel Mills Damon Estate. The United States Congress designated the Hawaii Volcanoes Wilderness (map) in 1978 and it now has a total of 130,790 acres.
The Big Island of Hawaii is home to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and its active volcanoes. How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. I did, however, get the chance to reach wider audiences with my posts about game-based language learning for Teaching English, Edutopia and EFL Magazine.
Now, it is time to look at a game that has been promoted as a 'language learning game' - Influent. While doing so, we get the chance to learn the words for those objects in our chosen target language (you get one language when you buy the game with the option to pay for other ones as DLC). Successfully find an object a few times and you 'master' that word, unlocking associated adjectives and verbs as you do so.
Norwegian and Finnish have recently been added and Arabic and Hindi are among those apparently on the way. However, elsewhere, the words 'fluency' and 'language learning' are also used and this kind of mixed message is, in my opinion, best avoided.
Of course, it will never be enough on its own to 'learn' a language but then again, what is?
Ask your students things like "What is next to the TV in the living room?" or "List three items that are in the fridge" or "There is something under the poster on the door.
They could therefore write a description of Andrew Cross' apartment (or a room in the apartment).
In a nutshell, Andrew Cross has invented a device capable of scanning real world objects and giving the user a translation of that item in another language. I can see this being a nice little extra to motivate and encourage a beginner in a new language. I found myself frustrated by words I couldn't recall in time attack mode causing me to try harder to get them right the next time.
If you have any comments or suggestions on things I could add or change next time around (ratings maybe?), please leave add them below! A careful study of the programme before hand revealed a couple of sessions on gamification, which is of course not the same thing (as I have previously explained on this blog), but nevertheless I decided to attend one of them on the last day. Actually, let me rephrase that - the concept sounds good but it seems to me that in practice, it rarely goes beyond the superficial awarding of point and achievements.
As it happened, it was a great session that managed to not only get past the points but also give practical examples of fully gamified lessons. Once she introduced points for doing homework tasks and a ranking system for rewards earned in class, she noticed an improvement in most students. Elena also acknowledged this problem and emphasised that a system of points and levels might be a good place to start (as I did a few years ago) but it isn't enough on its own. Elena suggested exploring the other aspects that make games so engaging - the game dynamics, the element of player control and choice, and the immersion in the unfolding narrative. As the students played through this game, they had the chance to uncover language, make choices, tackle challenge, and become emotionally invested in the story. However, it still left me thinking that you would need a dedicated teacher with a lot of energy to make it really work! He again took the initial position that exam prep classes can struggle to keep the attention of students and teachers alike. It was also interesting to hear how gamification can make the purpose of activities clouded. However, I do disagree with his assertion that tasks must model exam conditions as closely as possible. He suggests awarding points for finishing early (not too early to avoid rushing) and points per right answer (with questions graded by the teacher for difficulty) and also deducts points for wrong answers. Won't the announcement that a student got 30 points have them wondering if that is game points or a score out of 40? Last year, we had Mikhailo Noshchenko talking about using Skyrim with his university prep students followed by Karenne Sylvester on gamification but this year, the programme was definitely thin on the GBL front (there were a couple of talks on gamification but I will look at those in my next post).

I had the pleasure of attending the LTSIG (Learning Technologies Special Interest Group) PCE (Pre-conference Event) both as an attendee for some informative sessions (see my other blog for more details) and as a presenter in the 'afternoon showcase', a series of 30 minute sessions designed to give a quick, practical introduction to an app.I, of course, went for game-based learning for my showcase with a favourite app game of mine, Can You Escape?
This is part of the extra-curricular activity (ECA) programme rather than a regular lesson but I thought it would be a good way to show the potential of games not just for motivation but also for obtaining knowledge, encouraging cooperation and collaboration, learning through failure, and developing thinking skills (who knows?
This has kept me busy and it has also put me in a situation of not having a good quality Internet connection. That's right - as consumer support will no longer be offered for one of the landmark games of the last decade (and no doubt as a way to generate publicity before the new game is released), the entire package (base game and all the numerous expansion packs and extra items) is now free to all.
May was a crazy month as my family and I prepare for our big move this summer (more on that later) leaving not much time for blogging or gaming. I would first of all like to thank all of you who took time out of your weekends to join the session as well as all of you who posted comments and questions during the session and shared links about it through Twitter and Facebook.
Having just finished a unit of study on storytelling, my students were tasked with creating a story of their own. Underwater volcanoes are formed when molten rocks erupts underwater fissures of planet earth.
Many volcanic eruptions has been occurred here because it is located over mid Atlantic ridge,  where north American and Eurasian are moving apart over Iceland hotspot causing many volcanic eruptions. This specific strike honors the park in the state of Hawaii and it will be the fourteenth overall in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. The program debuted in 2010 with five strikes issued annually and will end with a single strike to be released in 2021. However, the features of the area had been a tourist destination for years before it became a national park.
These lava flows have contributed to the island’s expansion as they cool when they hit the water and become rock. Not only does Hawaii offer excellent beaches, but also a chance to see an active volcano up close. Mint series of 2010-2021 America the Beautiful Quarters that commemorate national parks and other national sites throughout the U.S. In order to protect humans from hazardous fumes, the areas surrounding erupting vents are closed to travel. The Ka'u Desert Trail curls across shadeless lava fields past cinder cones in the park's southwestern section and is currently closed due to fumes emitted from a new vent (March 2008) within Halema`uma`u Crater.
A print article also appeared in the November edition of TESOL France Teaching Times with others in the pipeline for early 2016.I am also happy to announce that I will be giving a webinar for IATEFL YLT SIG this Sunday, 17th January at 9am GMT. The words range from basic household items such as 'bed', 'fridge' and 'cereal' to more obscure vocabulary items like 'light switch'. That's great if you can afford the DLC and are interested in learning household vocabulary in many languages but I wish they would add some new areas.
What is it?" - this way, your learners can go beyond the basic vocab and get into some useful comprehension and language production. I may not need to bring up l'interrupteur in any French conversation attempts in the near future but it is not a word I will be forgetting in a hurry! Graphics were pixelated, colours were bright, backgrounds were static and sound effects were beepy - and still the games took ten minutes to load!There used to be an experience of buying a new game - the anticipation of going to the store, picking up the boxed game, and then unpacking it at home to take out the cassette and the more-often-than not book-sized manual. Talks on it can be the same - they can be insightful or they can be lacking in substance, little more than 'gaming is fun so gamified lessons are fun!' exclamations. However, a classic problem then comes up - what about the students who are not earning points?
However, they are often high-stakes scenarios with university places and future careers at stake. If the stduents focus on the game elements rather than the task at hand, they may lose interest. While timed-tasks are important as the exam approaches, I feel that working in non-exam conditions without the pressure of a time limit or word limit helps students get inside the exam more. There were also challenges for bonus points with all the points added up at the end to choose a winner. Personally, I would prefer to spend time unpacking the elements of the test, making sure students understand the question types, and then moving onto the timed practice activities later.
That was not entirely true, however, as I was contacted ahead of the conference by Dave Gatrell, the online teacher development coordinator for the British Council in Hong Kong, who was also going to feature Can You Escape?
He put us in pairs and had the person with the game in their hands look away while the other person watched the video. There was an encouraging amount of interest with large numbers of people even sitting on the floor for my demo and nobody literally trying to escape the room! You have to learn to do without things you previously took for granted and make the most efficient use of things you never even thought about being in limited supply before.Access to and use of technology has been one of the things most drastically affected (which shows how this part of the world is changing as I am not concerned about drinking water or electricity). You can find instructions about how to download it here but please be aware this 'offer' will end on July 31st so it's best to move fast!Naturally, I immediately saw this as a great way to cut the costs of bringing games into the classroom.
However, June and the end of the teaching year for me should see me have more time to get back into the swing of things and what better way to do so than with a challenge!Almost every educator active in online circles will have come across the work of Shelly Terrell at some point. If you read my other blog, you will know that I am a fan of giving students as much choice as possible during project work like this, and this was no different - with guidance when needed, I let them choose their project partners, the topic of their story and the mode in which they would tell it.
Many underwater volcano have been erupted here first ever volcano erupted here was in 1912 This volcano was erupted on march 18, 2009 caused due to the melting of two tectonic plates using excessive amount of heat and pressure resulting in the big eruption.
Loihi was first discovered in 1970 but scientists claimed it to be a normal seamount, but Loihi proved to be an active volcano later in 1996 where first eruption took place.
First ever volcanic eruption took place in January 1973 in the Icelandic town of Vestmannaeyjer.
Sumatra is formed by long chain of mountains and it is 4,600 meters tall and covers base of 50kms in diameter below the surface of the ocean. Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Hawaii Volcanoes Wilderness. It would be great if we could leave the apartment and head to the local park or the shop on the corner and learn more words.
Even when buying 'budget' Commodore 64 cassettes, there would still be a very thick inlay with all the instructions and a guide to the game.I would start reading the manual while still on the shopping trip, usually while sat in a cafe waiting for lunch and in the car on the way home.
Or would I be pleasantly surprised by a talk that would go beyond the basics and get into more depth about the real benefits of ramified learning? Starting from scratch and designing a series of lessons with your own ideas and materials is the way to go. Also, time came up again - although Christien states that the intial input time does not need to be repeated, I remain unconvinced that the preparation effort is worth it in the end results. They then can attempt them in exam conditions after they have become accustomed to the task types. That person then had to relate the solution to their partner orally, thus creating an interactive viewing-speaking-listening activity. This could also be done with the teacher (or a student) supplying the instructions orally with misleading information and encouraging the students to correct it. Time constraints plus not that many people actually pre-loading the app on their devices meant I couldn't quite demonstrate everything I had planned to so this post is just to briefly summarise the five different stages of activities I showed with the app. In their excitement at the theme of the club, some of the students had not bothered to read the write-up introducing the club, included at the bottom of the poster and in the letter that went home to parents: Do you like playing computer games? Internet is painfully slow and incredibley expensive and has an annoying habit of not working at all just when you need it.However, in terms of the school I now work at, I have landed on my feet somewhat as it is a well-equipped and efficiently run place with plenty of opportunities and encouragement to do something different (see this post on my other blog for more details). Furthermore, various incarnations of The Sims have always been a feature in my game-based lessons so in this post, I am going to quickly share some ideas for utilising this game in language classes. She is seemingly everywhere leading training sessions and inspiring teachers the world over in person and online. Many underwater volcanoes have caused chaos by eruption or earthquake by destroying various places nearby leaving many homeless.
In the southwestern portion of the park, a large chunk of Wilderness includes several miles of coastline, a small portion southeast of the visitor center is the 'Ola'a Forest, which is separate from and just north of the park. The Napau Trail crosses lava from the Mauna Ulu Lava Shield (1969-1974) and follows above the path of magma flowing to the vent on Kilauea's east rift. But what about digital games and language learning?This webinar will briefly review the history of game-based learning before looking at ways in which a commercially popular game, an app or a piece of educational software can be adapted for the language classroom. There would also be the option then for some functional language as you interact with other people. I would continue reading while waiting for the game to load up and then refer back to the manual whenever I got stuck.Even once I had learned the game, the manual would still be crucial, often containing codes or information that you would need to proceed with the game (an early attempt to counter piracy). We had an interesting pre-conference exchange about our sessions and the ways in which we used the app. The underwater earthquake appeared here was the main responsible of tsunami that affected and rocked the Asia in 2004.
You must remain on trails at all times to protect the fragile environment and to ensure your own safety. By the end of the webinar we will have explored three ideas that can help transform your students' gaming time into a rich experience.
The original version of Civilization was a great example of this - every so often, a citizen would call you out as a usurper and demand you prove your worthiness to rule by answering a question, which you would need the manual to do.
We then, of course, got to follow this up with a couple of face-to-face chats at the conference itself with plenty of intriguing ideas developing.
One of my main interests in recent times (as you will understand form this blog) is using video games to inspire language learning and that will be the focus of today's goal.
I had uploaded some test slides during a technical check-in earlier in the week and used those again in the session rather than the finished version. Although this blog is (to again borrow the quote from Mykhailo's talk) is more about the 'learnification of gaming' through game-based learning than the 'gamification of learning' the two concepts have some common ground that merits taking a closer look. During the daytime they are dark and gray but during the night they are surrounded by orange color.
First, we identified different vocabulary in the room and went over any unknown words (not really an issue with a room full of teachers but we were simulating!) I then talked as I played through the level encouraging the participants to follow me on their own devices. Personally, I have tried gamified concepts such as classroom managment 'level-ups' with mixed success so I was looking for some pointers from this session.
This works as a 'live listening' activity and helps the students become familiar with the game, the language used to talk about the game, and to engage in a detailed listening comprehension without even realising it. If we play them responsibly, we can develop our thinking skills, show our creativity, explore our imaginations, and learn about teamwork, co-operation and fair play, Join us as we journey through space and time, explore wild terrain, solve puzzles, build amazing projects, and learn how to be responsible gamers - all from the comfort of our own computer lab. I knew only a little about the complexities of the English language before I became and EFL teacher and even less about managing a group of learners and keeping them engaged. The only waiting is likely to be for the download to complete and the player will probably pass the time watching gameplay videos on YouTube if they do anything related to the game at all.

Intensive speaking, reading, listening, and comprehension practice all with the added pressure of a time limit.The good people at Steel Crate Games Inc have been kind enough to supply me with a review copy so expect a more detailed look at the learning potential of this game soon.
I used to simply use this as a topic to get some students talking outside of lesson time but, after an experience described in my first post on this blog in which my students advised me on how to best achieve the goals set out in a game, I started to incorporate gaming into my lessons as well.Games play a major role in our students' lives outside school whether that be through a games console, a PC, a website, or a smartphone and they always seem enthusiastic to talk about them.
When the game starts, they jump straight in.The manuals are still there, usually in pdf format as part of the download or through links provided in the start menu but they seem to be ignored. That meant we did our first session without playing any games at all!I started by introducing myself and asking the learners what they expected from the club. Even though I am a gamer myself and keep up to date with the latest gaming trends, I often 'play dumb' with my students and pretend I don't know much about a new game. The idea that gamification is 'fun' and can somehow turn boring classroom activities into exciting ones leads us to chocolate-covered broccoli - not really an appetising combination! This has been one thing that has bothered me about the way my young students approach games - they jump straight in and start to play but then run into all kinds of unnecessary problems as a result.I have seen this time and time again in different contexts. As I had anticipated, several of them started listing favourite games and types of game, many of which were not really appropriate for a school environment, especially when the club was open to kids aged 8 and up.I listed some of the games they mentioned like GTA, Assassins' Creed, FIFA, and so on. I say that I have downloaded the game but not managed to get very far and I ask for their help. If we want activities to be effective they must be well-balanced and planned with the learner in mind (although I'm not entirely convinced that 'honeycoated peas' are a tastier mix!) I guess the same is true for anything we do in the classroom.
A couple of years ago, I used SimCityEDU with some students in Turkey and they couldn't do the first mission at all.
I suggested they think of a story or a topic that they all liked and tried to build something from there.
Simply turning a feedback activity into a game by awarding points for correct answers or saying 'hey kids, we are going to watch a video today!' and expecting magic learning to happen is often counter-productive (like the 'golden chalice' the speaker refers to). The reason was that they had not bothered to read the mission instructions (they were supposed to place bus stops strategically to allow kids to get to school on time) and were therefore lost in the game. As these introductory levels are short, this was done quite quickly and helped us move on from a listening phase to a speaking one. They agreed that first-person shooters, games with gangster violence and bad language, and games focused on one particular sport were not going to appeal or be suitable for everyone. As Kyle Mawer said in his British Council webinar about GBL, learning is hard work and students should always be prepared for that. It took an intervention from me to get them to restart the level, read the instructions and then successfully complete the mission. I then showed them a copy of the above text from the poster and asked them to read it carefully (it turned out most of them hadn't carefully read it before but at least their parents had as a couple of kids said they now understood why their parents had agreed to let them join a gaming club).I then asked them to brainstorm in groups what kind of games they had played that would fit that profile.
LIkewise, teaching is hard work and teachers should always be prepared for that rather than looking for 'quick fixes'.
We have started out with MinecraftEdu and the school also purchased licences for KerbalEdu, which we will start using in the next couple of weeks.The great thing about these titles is that they are 'edu' versions of games the students already know so it opens up the idea of games having an educational element. If you are a gamer already, just do as I do and feign ignorance while your students teach you. The plots are well-written and the characters well-developed and while the choices you get to make for the main character may not significantly effect the overall outcome, they do allow an important level of ownership of the story.
I set up a Google Doc with an incomplete walkthrough and it was the job of the participants to play through the level and fill the gaps in the step-by-step guide.
They also mentioned educational games they had used in class before, simulation software like Universe Sandbox, and many apps that challenge the player with puzzles and problems to solve.That was more like it!
They can also be a great springboard into discussions about the thinking behind the choices and the differences in each player's experience.The only issue has been the suitability of the games content-wise for young learners and teens. And they were not disappointed - they still seemed excited about the chance to play in a different kind of environment. Bad language, violence and themes in The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones is unlikely to go down well with stakeholders.
This is a good activity to get students reading and engaging both with the game and with a text.Other possibilities for a walkthrough activity could include presenting students with a jumbled gap-fill and asking them to order it, providing a walkthrough full of mistakes and having students correct it as they play through, or supplying them with images and text to match up.
I have approached a few leading lights in the worlds of GBL and ELT to be intervieweed for this blog and you can expect to see some of those appearing soon.Please stay tuned for our GBL club adventure and ELT Sandbox posts! I knew they had been focusıng on giving commands and advice in their main classes so I thought this would be a good chance to make use of a game.
However, Minecraft promises to be more child-friendly (as I am sure the game developers are aware that a lot of kids are going to be interested in this game) and could potentially be a great way to get some of my younger language learners engaged in and analysing an interactive adventure story. We will not play those games!" and crush the kids' expectations but instead to get them to stop, digest all the information in front of them, and think about it. I directed the participants to work in pairs, one looking at the game and one searching online for a walkthrough.
In the end, they arrived at the conclusion that certain games would not be desirable in our club on thier own. Having introduced the game to my students stressing the need to survive, I watched in disbelief as they pressed shift to run and, exhausted and without food, failed to make it through the first day.
Having found a suitable guide, they extracted the information from it to play through the level.There are various ways this could be approached in class. They also came up with the reasons why on thier own and offered better suggestions on thier own.
They didn't even need to run - there was no immediate danger to escape from or goal to reach!On this ocassion, I resisted the temptation to intervene and left them to it. One way would be to have each pair collaboratively read through the walkthrough and then play through the level. That way, their expectations were changed not crushed and they worked thier way towards a better understanding of the situation.Nevermind game-based learning - that is what all learning should be about. Eventually, they worked it out and started to walk, not run.The initial feeling was one of frustration - why were my learners doing this? I did have a copy of RPG Maker VX Ace but my experiments never amounted to much.However, a new version is on the way promising easier access to more options and features than ever before. Another would be to have one student (or group of students) read through and then relate the information to the person with the device in their hands. This offered a good opportunity to familiarise my students with the overall objectives, controls and feel of the game, and it also gave me time to narrate what was going on and field their questions. Why were they approaching the games in this way and was it actually a problem at all?As I pondered and read around this area, I found an answer in a video extract of a talk by James Paul Gee, who has done a lot of academic research into game-based learning. Johnson Memorial, Uttoxeter My home for the past fourteen years has been Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. First of all, provided I can get to grips with it, the opportunity to create a game aimed at language learners is an intriguing one.
This is a great country full of wonderful people, great food (Iskender Kebab being my favourite), and the unmistakable Turkish Tea. It was clear that the three students had enjoyed writing it and were enjoying presenting it.
I am not sure what form it would take yet and how language work would be integrated but I am most definitely keen to explore the possibilities.Secondly, with the developers touting RPG Maker as "simple enough for a child" it would be great to get my learners involved in making games. What was also noticeable was that the whole class, who had been getting a bit restless when it was not their turn to showcase their efforts, was hanging on every word! It was only after hours of play and immersion in the game world that he was able to read the instructions and understand them. Brainstorming plot ideas, generating dialogues, storyboarding, describing landscapes and settings - it could make for a very interesting and productive learner project.
The manual was written in 'the language of the game' and he needed to know the world of the game to understand it.
A few moments later, they had several tabs in the browser open and were scouring the pages for information about passing the spider (intensive reading, without them actually realising it!) When they thought they had found the solution, I asked them to retell it to me.
This is an exciting time for me and my family as we get the chance to live on the doorstep one of the world's last untouched wildernesses (Gabon is sometimes called "Earth's Last Eden") and in one of Africa's fastest (but also most sustainably) developing countries. I would leave to hear about how you have used it with your students and how they responded to it. Perhaps it was more a case of learning by experimentation, by seeing what works and what doesn't and by learning through doing.James Paul Gee's words also spoke to the language teacher in me.
The learners need to experience the subject in action and context to understand what it is about. There is little point on giving beginner level language learners grammar explanations before showing them the actual language. They need to see and hear the language in use before stepping back to analyse the grammar and the functional side of it later.There were two other realisations I had from reflecting on these moments. First of all, if you noticed, in the three examples quoted above, the first two games were 'edu' versions of popular titles. From thereon in, Minecraft featured in at least 2 or 3 groups' work each time we did a project. In an attempt to adapt the game to a learning scenario, changes had been made and the need to read first and then play had been imposed. Soon, I was seeing underground homes, treehouses, retelling of story chapters, and wildlife presentations about in-game animals. The basic game mechanics had been altered and the playing experience had changed as a result. Once beyond these tutorial levels, both 'edu' games start to resemble the real thing more closely but I believe they would benefit from less teaching to allow more learning.Secondly, there was the question of my intervention. When they got stuck, they went back to the walkthroughs they hand found earlier and then directed the student at the controls past the obstacle. The first two times, as teacher, I showed my learners what they were doing wrong and got them to try again having received my feedback. After a few failed attempts, they were able to make it through twenty-four hours of game time successfully. They got to learn from their own failures, reflect and try again based on their own experience and ultimately succeed. So, it is not the reading or lack of it that we should concern ourselves with, nor the immediate understanding.
We should concern ourselves with making sure the game plays like a game and that the context and environment is rich enough for the earners to be able to fail, reflect, retry, develop and move forward.

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