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Adventure Games for ESL

 
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amyloum



Joined: 09 Mar 2011
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:46 am    Post subject: Adventure Games for ESL Reply with quote

Hello everyone

What do think of adventure games as a source for ESL (or English as a second language) teaching Shocked ?

I'm a big fan of adventure games and I've played them for quite a long time. The richness of their dialogues and inteactions made me pose and think of their potentials as effective language teaching tools especially in areas like pronunciation and vocabulary acquisition.

Now I'm working on this area as a research for my MA degree. I believe that AGs are even better than movies for ESL cuz rather than watching passively the student can live the experience.

So What do you think guys? Any ideas Very Happy
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educe22



Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 74
Location: Fort Worth, TX

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You would have to give me a sample scenario so that I can get a feel for how you would proceed.

For the most part, based on my ESL tutoring, I would say that this would be a no-go. Low level ESL learners would need some level of instruction. Unless you did something like Rosetta Stone where you immersed the individual in the situation. The problem is, how do you provide feedback and correction? The game element differs from the learning element.

I'm open to outside-the-box solutions, give me more than just the theory and I will listen and possibly contribute. But based on what I know, I don't think this will be a viable solution.
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redset



Joined: 18 Mar 2006
Posts: 582
Location: England

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It really depends on what type of adventure games you mean. With the older ones where the game describes the location and the player types in what they want to do, there's definitely some active language use in there, both from reading the descriptions and expressing what they want to do or get more information about. Modern linguistics technology could probably do an even better job understanding the player, which would be important since those games often had trouble with native speakers! It could often be a case of forming short phrases exactly how the game's parser required them, which isn't really helpful if your goal is developing natural language.

Most other adventure games now are fairly cinematic - it's basically like watching a movie, except you might get some dialogue options when there's a conversation. It's pretty limited in terms of interaction, maybe you could use it to teach nuance (less polite options making the other person insulted, and so on). It costs a huge amount of money to make these games though, and the more complicated you make them the more it costs! And if you could make a game that truly responded to natural language and changed events based on that, it would be popular with more than just language learners.

It could be an emerging field though, computers are capable of more and more and like educe22 mentioned, Rosetta Stone can do things with language recognition that wouldn't have been possible ten years ago. Merging that with an entertaining experience isn't impossible, and it would definitely bring benefits.

You also might want to research games in general, many people play games in English and it's as much a part of their learning experience as watching movies or listening to music. The online aspect means they can play with English speakers too, and interact with them, so it's all part of the immersion. Social networking games are a big thing now too (like Farmville on Facebook) so it's probably worth looking into that area - you have millions of speakers of all kinds of languages online and playing at any given moment, if you could get them interacting with each other somehow you could harness a huge amount of potential.
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amyloum



Joined: 09 Mar 2011
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply educe22

I appreciate your contribution but I'd like to ask you some questions because I need the opinion of an experienced ESL tutor.

First of all, Why would you judge this as a no-go method?

As for the scenario I don't have a fixed one yet. However I have some main points. As for the level, I'm thinking of intermediate and above levels for this study because these games are at the first place meant for native speakers so the student must possess enough knowledge to proceed through the game.

The study will address 2 main questions: How can the teacher help students to get the best of these games?
Would it be possible to enlarge the circle to include these games in educational contexts?

I made a kind of a pilot study to give me some guidelines followed by structured interviews and questionnaires. The findings were kinda inviting. The participants were pretty much open to this idea and they stressed on the helpful language of these games or in other words they found it useful to be exposed to authentic language as opposed to the dead one in their textbooks.

I'd like to hear from you soon Smile
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amyloum



Joined: 09 Mar 2011
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you redset for your reply

I think text-based adventure games are helpful being more language productive in their gameplay method but sometimes students might find it frustrating to proceed through the game because of the difficulties they might face when interacting with the computer.

I'm kinda thinking of the new adventure games. These games save the players' time for example instead of spending extra time trying to create a phrase that the computer would comprehend they could simply play and enjoy.

And as for programming a game that would be way beyond my abilities Sad
What I have in mind is just to use the COTs games (Commercial-off-the-shelf) for language learning.

I would like to know more about the online interactive games. Could you please recommend some of them? and what are the most highlighted areas?

looking forward to hear from you Smile
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redset



Joined: 18 Mar 2006
Posts: 582
Location: England

PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well they might enjoy games more when they just pick from a few conversation options, but then they're not really using the language, you know? From a learning perspective it wouldn't be much different from watching a movie. That said, it could be much more engaging for students to feel they're part of the experience, reading the options and thinking about what they mean and how it will affect the story.

I do see a few problems with it as a learning tool though - firstly movies are usually an hour or two long, whereas games take much, much longer to play. It would be difficult to create a class activity around all or even part of a game, because you cannot jump to a certain point in the story easily, it requires game-playing skills to progress, and not all students would have access to a suitable computer. It would be much easier to have students watch a video and then discuss what happened, what was said, what could have been said and so on.

I think games are a great, enjoyable way for people to immerse themselves in language, similar to reading or watching video or trying to understand songs, so for an individual they could definitely be helpful. As far as teaching goes though, I'm really not sure they'd be any use, unless they were specifically designed as a teaching tool. Without any form of assessment or any way to target specific language (discovering where a student is weak and then focusing on those areas) it's really a glorified movie, and the difficulties in using it as a teaching material probably outweigh the potential benefits.

This is in my opinion anyway? What kinds of games were you looking at? If you name a few titles I might know them or be able to look them up. You should take a look at Interactive Fiction, which we were talking about earlier - it's still being developed and it's better at understanding natural language than it was, and people are still writing new adventures. It combines reading comprehension with the ability to form responses using correct spelling and syntax, so although it's not perfect it has some potential. Looks like someone's already using it!
http://cle.usu.edu/CLE_IF_AUSFLUG.html

As far as online games go it's just something that's a part of many games these days, you can go online and play with people from all over the world, communicating with a microphone and through text, so it's definitely a form of immersion and practicing communication. Not necessarily the best environment, of course Very Happy
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amyloum



Joined: 09 Mar 2011
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks redset for your reply.

Quote:
What kinds of games were you looking at? If you name a few titles I might know them or be able to look them up


Actually I'm thinking of adventure games like the classic "point and click" games because they are rich in description and dialuoges. I used one of the "Nancy Drew Games" series in my pilot study. The first outcomes were promising but still I'm facing some difficulties.


Quote:
I do see a few problems with it as a learning tool though - firstly movies are usually an hour or two long, whereas games take much, much longer to play. It would be difficult to create a class activity around all or even part of a game, because you cannot jump to a certain point in the story easily, it requires game-playing skills to progress, and not all students would have access to a suitable computer.


I quite agree with you when it comes with these problems. I've been working on a list of the problems raised by the use of video games and the most persistent problems are "availability" + "costs" + "time" + "providing feedback"
If I could overcome these problems I'd make a progress. And the important question is still whether to use these games in classroom with the teacher's monitoring or to use them for individuals with providing tasks and feedback for the tasks.

Looking forward to your reply Smile
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Dive into English



Joined: 14 Apr 2011
Posts: 4
Location: London

PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the 'Survivor' game from the book 'Teamwork' published by DELTA.

It's a brilliant teamwork and groupwork activity.

I've played it out in the sun, in the park on hot summer days with my students. It's brilliant speaking practice.
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peterteacher



Joined: 13 Apr 2009
Posts: 86
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:14 pm    Post subject: Adventure games for ESL Reply with quote

Hi,

I've long thought the same about the potential benefits of adventure games as an English language learning tool. I always had in mind the old King's Quest and Space Quest titles along with the legendary Secret of Monkey Island.

I had a go at writing some simple examples and seeing what I could do to make them more suitable for ESL students.

As per previous posts I found language level was a barrier. The lowest level I could actually make something work and still be accurately describing the adventure was around pre-intermediate. Inter/Upp Int was much more viable but low(ish) levels aren't impossible.

I also tried to make them short, aiming for a 20 minute completion time. Actual experience has proven that my "20 minutes" is closer to an hour of class time, depending on the students' background with computer games and computer literacy in general.

Before anyone else tries to run a class through them, be warned that my quirky and slightly seditious sense of humour sneaks in every now and then. Wink

The last is in line with my general teaching principles: "always put in a bit extra for the students with higher comprehension levels".
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Try some mini, on-line adventure games to help your English at: www.gameenglish.com
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