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Interactive Fiction and teaching English as a foreign language
IF Only: http://www.theswanstation.com/wordpress/
Colossal Cave (1975) 9:05 (2012)
One computer, one game
Demand High Speaking
with a digital game
Now describe the
five images to your
as best you can
a) Can I have a
volunteer to describe
the first image?
b) Does anyone
have a better
Multiple computers, one game
The aim of the game : The learners predict what to do with a list of pairs of game
objects, check their answers by playing the game and then write down the
answers using the passive voice.
Prepare to play: Choose an adventure game and start playing it. As you play, make
a note of what you do with the objects that appear in the game (or use the
walkthrough to save time) and produce a list similar to the example below. Make a
copy of this list for each learner. You will also need to use online dictionaries.
Play: Hand out the list of objects and tell the learners they are to guess how they
are used together in the game. Ask the learners to talk together in groups of three
and to use the online dictionaries to find out the meaning of the words they do not
understand. After fifteen minutes, stop them and ask them to tell you what they
think the relationship is between each pair of objects in the game: e.g. I think you
use the hairpin to open the shed, etc. They then play the game together. The
game should be easier to play because they know which objects they need to use
together, but if they get stuck, encourage them to read the walkthrough to find out
what to do next. Finally, once they have played the game (or part of the game if
it's long), ask them to look again at the pairs of words and to write about them.
Encourage the use of the passive voice here: e.g. The hairpin is used to open the
Play on: The learners can continue playing the game and finish off writing passive
sentences about the objects. www.bubblebox.com/play/adventure/1747.htm
Finding and using a walkthrough
Escape the room games
Multiple computers, multiple games
“What should we do? Stay in or go out?”
“Shall we listen to some music?”
“What do you want to do now?”
Watch and say
“So, the squirrel has stolen your crisps?
What are you going to do now?
Well, why don't you try looking at the
Bookcase to see if there's something
There to help you?”
Procedure and practicalities
learner grouping – pairs or groups
use hand-outs – clear instructions / task
teacher uses game guide (walkthrough)
encourage use of English during computer
learners explore, examine and pick up
pause game and reflect on puzzles together
those who solve puzzle tell whole class
discuss where they been and what seen
authentic information gap activity
Further Reading: Game-Based Language Learning
Mawer & Stanley (2011) Digital Play
Reinders (ed.) (Palgrave, 2012) Digital Games in Language Learning and Teaching
Sykes & Reinhardt (Pearson, 2013) Language at Play: Digital Games in Second and Foreign
Language Teaching and Learning
Further Reading: Game-Based Learning
Bartle (New Riders, 2004) Designing Virtual Worlds
Gee (Palgrave, 2003) What Digital Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy
Gee (Routledge, 2004) Situated Language and Learning: A critique of traditional
Gee (Peter Lang, 2007) Good Video Games + Good Learning: Collected Essays
Gee (Common Ground, 2005) Why video games are good for your soul
Prensky (Paragon House, 2001) Digital game-based learning
Prensky (Paragon House, 2006) Don't Bother Me Mom – I'm Learning!