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Subject: Making a New Game for ESL Learners rss

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Sean Beach
Canada
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Hi,

I'm teaching adult ESL students (new immigrants to Canada) and I love using games in my class to get the conversation flowing and help my students to have fun.

I've been thinking about building my own game (not for profit), using a map of the city we are in and the tasks new immigrants must do (find housing, find a job, get documents translated, get a new doctor, etc...) as the basis for a game.

I could put together a competitive race game fairly easily, but I'd like to add another dimension to give it depth.

What would you suggest to change this from being a Sorry! / Monopoly / Ratrace clone to something with a strategy element?

I'm looking forward to your suggestions.

Thanks!

-Sean
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James Fung
United States
San Diego
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Why is a competitive race the central mechanism to your game? Is racing really what immigrants face when they move to your city? Perhaps you should start with what are the primary constraints/issues immigrants face and choose mechanisms based on that.
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Tullia d'Aragona
United Kingdom
Manchester
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Maybe the goals shouldn't be about speed/racing around a track, but about amassing some kind of VP for various activites? I'm thinking something more Mario Papini style, like Sienna perhaps, or more interestingly DVE?

I love his games (my BF hates them) because they offer so many options of activities, so many different strategies to earn VP of different worth, that for me they are very replayable, and I think in an ESL context this would be great because the learners can either repeat activities to practise vocab, or try new paths to learn new things, and it would allow them to focus on activities (if they are really intelligent about their learning) that they want to learn the vocab for and are most useful to them i.e. they personalise their game experience themselves, so you have just one game but many learners can get personal benefits.

You could indeed start with a map of the city, and have a movement mechanic, and let them visit supermarkets/libraries/rent a house/go to the job centre (or Canadian equivalent)/open a bank account/enrol kids in school... the possibilities are endless! Each could be worth different amounts of VP, or perhaps even different types of VP - social points, life skills points, citizen points, I'd need to think about it in more detail to work out what would be best.

You could even incorporate a Papini style promotion aspect where perhaps if they fulfil certain conditions, which would unlock more activities?

Now I want to design this game!
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Freelance Police
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Palo Alto
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One other thought is to have the *students* create the "challenges" or at least flavor text for the cards. Specifically, you ask them what tasks (or stuff to translate) happens at each location. Encourage them to research using the internet or whatnot.

One implementation would be to have a board of the locations. Every time a player lands on the location, they draw a card and must answer it correctly.

This, of course, is boring. Chaosium fixed it up by adding gates and other worlds, but I don't think Mythos and ESL *quite* mix. It's still a reach, but your students aren't going to play the game more than a few times, so you can use, say, a mystery for them to solve where each location has a separate clue, as in 221 Baker Street.

That's *still* dull. I'd end up playing Say Anything, where each person writes down an answer in English...
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Dezza Hadei
Australia
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South Australia
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Gaming Related » Games in the Classroom
Re: Making a New Game for ESL Learners
How about something along the lines of Cheapass Games: Deadwood Studios USA?

Move to different areas to complete 'jobs' which require a certain level of 'skill' to accomplish
Instead of a dice rolling mechanic, have an acting/roleplay mechanic to count towards success.

 
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