Trace Effects

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Trace Effects is collaborative learning game for American English and culture. It is one example of serious game.

I played it a couple of times. It consists of two main sessions, the story and the language practice. It takes a little while to load the story chapters. But once you enter the chapter, it is really fun. The story is about Trace trying to go back to the future. It is a typical American si-fi story. As it has a 3D visual effect, it appeals to teenagers. It is designed for 12-16 years old. It feels like a simulation video game but it is language learning involved. Players are put in the simulated situations and learn daily English expressions, such as asking for directions. Also, there will be a exam of your understanding and a practice of retelling. For example, after Trace got the new student ID from student union. A girl asked him for the information of getting a new ID. The game is very well made as when you walk around, you can hear other people’s conversations. It gives players a very authentic feeling.

The goal of this game is to learn American English and culture. Daily life courtesy is including in the conversations you have with other characters in the game. In stead of dividing the topics into different categories, it emerges while you complete the game, which is less rigid and more fun. One thing I noticed is that there is always a emotion status after each sentence. It helps players understand how people would react in dialogues. When you act polite and say “Thank you”, people react in a pleasant way.

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Vocabulary is built through the game. It comes with a language practice so it is very easy for users to exam how well they learned from the story.

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Listening¬†is a major part of the game as we constantly “talk” to different characters without subtitles to get the next clue. There is a repeat button in case you didn’t catch the meaning the first time you hear it.

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Grammar is practiced. In the game, you can find different verbs to add to your option list, and later use them to complete certain actions. To complete an actions successfully, users have to choose the right verb and the right object. It is the gamification of multiple choices.

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Comprehension skills are also practiced. Unlike reading about it, it is more like experiencing the story by yourself.

After each chapter, there is a corresponding language practice. I really like the form of the test as there are images and audios so it is good for both visual and audio learners. In both the story and language practice there is a score system which I like as it is an indicator of your performance as well as a prompt that gives you motivation.

Basically, Trace Effects enables users to learn and play at the same time with very little assistance from teachers. I can see myself using this game as an after-class activity or homework. Apart from using the language practice, the learning process can be assessed in class by doing a role-play or story retelling.

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Escape the Room

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In the previous post, we discussed gamification. Using games in calss is a good way to engage the students and achieve the learning goal. Escape the room has been a popular game for years, now, it is becoming part of the class.

In a escape the room game, students build and enhance the vocabulary while playing. For example, the kitchen themed room escape. Unlike the way we have been doing before: providing pictures of the vocabulary in the kitchen, is not good enough for visual learners or the we can make it more fun and alive by using the escape the room game.

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I have played this kind of games a lot. I started with online versions, then real-life versions. In recent years, real-life room escape has been very popular in China. There are different themes: vampires, mummies, etc. The fun of the game lies in the puzzle solving. It also resembles the detective games. Students get to learn without realizing they are doing work. It is the beauty of gamification. It makes learning a fun thing to do.I played the great kitchen escape and I found it really hard to do if you have no idea how to play the game or the goal of it. I had no problem finding the things I needed. But without looking at instructions, I had a hard time figuring out what to do with the items. So, clear instructions is crucial. The kitchen escape game is a good vocabulary exercise. By exploring the room, images of different kitchenware are given and it is easy for students to relate the words to their meanings. One way to use this game in class is to assign students in a group of two. By making students work in pairs, it also enhances their ability to work as a team and builds a good rapport among students. Communicating skills are also built during the pair work session. Narrowing skills can be practiced if a walk through is used.

The teacher acts as a instructor and guider. Clear instructions must be given before the game and repeated to make sure all students understand. Teachers can set a policy for helps and hints. For example, every group or student can have three chances to seek for help from the teacher when they are stuck. In addition, a walk through can be used in the game as a way to examine their understanding of the game as well as the vocabulary and narrowing skills. A way to do that is to ask students to use the walk through as a guide and describe the escaping process after finishing the game.

There should be a post-game test to exam the learning and enhance the knowledge gained through the game. Giving out a vocabulary test is a good way to exam how well the students memorized the new words learned in the game. Other than giving the meaning of the vocabulary in their native language, the pics in the game can be used as a prompt which also helps achieve a complete target language learning environment.

Gamification in Teaching

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What is gamification? It is to engage and motivate people to achieve certain goals with the use of game mechanics and game design. In a word, it is the fun way to engage. 

Now there are many studies showing that gamification in language instruction can promote motivation. Apart from that, gamification is a solution for getting students involved. Even for those who are shy, by engaging games in the class, it builds up the connections among students. Are you not satisfied with your students’ participation? Try gamification! By playing games, students may discover the fun part of the subject and therefore become more proactive. Team work is often required in games, so they will have the chance to practice collaboration skills.

However, every coin has two sides. There are some drawbacks of gamification. While playing a game, there is a tension of competition. Students may benefit but also be discouraged from it. Everyone likes to win. But no one wins all the time. So, when students lose the game, they will very likely to be dismayed and frustrated. In addition, effective gamification requires careful planning and instructions. It is not so easy to do.

Generally, gamification opens up a whole new world for educators. It offers lots of opportunities and ways to enliven the instructions. As for language teaching, it can be used in a lot of ways. Apart from serving the basic goals of the tasks, it benefits students’ communication skills. All four aspects of language learning, reading, writing, listening and speaking, can be practiced. For example, in Art Master, students work in pairs, one describes the picture orally, the other draw the picture down on a piece of paper includes the name of the object. It is a very good game as it involves drawing which adds to the fun of the activity, it reinforces the use of prepositions, the students’ ability to describe the location and also their vocabulary. There are plenty more types of game you can integrate in the class.