Thursday, October 16, 2014

The game of Third World Farmer

    I played the game Third World Farmer for about six or seven times. This game is to help players to experience the plight of poor farmers in impoverished countries and how to make life. In the beginning, I failed several times because I made all the family leave the farm to make money and they all died. All the other reasons I failed came to my inappropriate use of the money to plant crops. It is not an easy game because it requires players to have a sense of economy and figure out the best way to make money and run the family’s life.

    As a potential ESL teacher, I would use this game for the intermediate level students to learn both language and the culture when they play the game. The vocabulary would be my first learning objective because all the words in the game are in categories and students can learn different words and there is explanation under each word. For example, “a plow greatly increases crop yield” is the explanation for “plow”. This can also function as the hint for the game. The second objective would be the cultivation of cross-culture knowledge and understanding. Many students from the city don’t even know the tools for farm and they cannot imagine how hard life is in the third world. According to theNY standardESL5, students will demonstrate cross-cultural knowledge and sensitivity in communicating with others of varied social, cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

    For the assessment, I would have my students to list all the new words they have learned from the game. Since in buying, planting and selling activities during the game, students are familiar with the vocabulary, this listing task according to Kyle Mawer's task types can assess how much my students remember the meaning and use of the vocabulary. That game can also be a culture course because students are immersed in the different culture and simulate authentic life in that culture. For the cultural knowledge objective, I would ask my students to write a journal about their personal feelings or thought about the game and especially about the third world culture. I can assess their cultural awareness by their journals. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Phantasy Quest

    I have played the game Phantasy Quest three times to experience the learning process by playing a game. First of all, it is an easy game to start with. The visual design is good, without a bunch of items displayed there to annoy you. The instruction is clear and explicit, with both arrows and dialogue box reminding you. And most importantly, there is time limit! Personally I hate those games with time limits, which will make me too nervous to win the game.

    When I was playing the game, I was thinking that if my future students play this game in my language class, what would my students learn from this game? The most basic one is the vocabulary, I think. Each time you click on the item, there is will be a dialogue box telling what it is. You may click on the item several times to try to find out your target in playing the game. That kind of repetition can help students remember the vocabulary in the game. In addition, the game is a kind of exploring game. Students read the instruction and explore all the scenes in the game. They can learn how to complete the task step by step, which means they will become patient in language learning. What’s more, even if they cannot figure out the route to the destination, they can refer to the walkthrough, where they can know how to successfully win the game, without feeling frustrated at all. Let’s see how the game is helpful to students intrinsically. This game includes almost all the elements mentioned by Tom Chatfield in his TED video 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain. It has uncertainty because you are stranded on a deserted island. It gives you immediate feedback and reward once you click on something. You are engaged in the game because you are always encouraged to find the target and complete the game. Besides, the clear and interesting instruction really helps when students are exposed to the game individually.

    With the help of game, the language learning process becomes more interesting. Teacher acts as an instructor to give students hints if they need, or enhance their learning after they play the game. Students would explore the game by themselves first, and then get some feedback or instruction from the teacher. As a future teacher, I would use walkthrough for the game. But I would only use it when they are at loss. I will encourage them to explore by themselves first, and then provide them walkthrough. To assess their learning, I would refer to KyleMawer's task types for assessing content learned in games. I would ask them to note down their difficulty and success in the game to assess their personal experiences. I would pay attention to their emotional change toward the game, for example, whether they are encouraged by the game to learn more, or they are just frustrated. I can imagine, gamification in language class would be very interesting!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gaming and Learning

     Gamification is brand new notion for me. To be honest, I am not obsessed with any games at all. I might apply some simple games to arouse my students’ interest in my future class, but I have never thought about the systematic use of game in learning. To combine game and learning is an innovative but risky way, because games, especially computer games nowadays have so much negative effect on people. I think it’s time for me to think about it seriously. 
     To start with, the concept of gamification. According to the article What is Gamification, Gamification is “the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.” In one word, gamification is to use game element to motivate people. So, the problem comes, why game has this function, or why game is attractive? According to Tom Chatfield’ TED video 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain, he says game is doing both the wanting and liking process. You can satisfy your ambition and have emotional engagement as well. In game, there is uncertainty, reasonable probability of success, reward, feedback, engagement and also team collaboration. How can people resist from the charm of playing games?

     So, can we apply these game elements into learning, especially language learning?Stephan J. Franciosi uses the Flow Theory to explore the relationship between digital game based learning (DGBL) and task based language Teaching (TBLT) in his article A Comparison of Computer Game and Language-LearningTask Design Using Flow Theory. Flow is the “mental state experienced during challenging activities in a comfortable zone between "anxiety" and "boredom," where the activity at hand is neither too difficult to be frustrating, nor too easy to be menial” according to the article. Basically, DGBL is more concerned with multi-media activities while TBLT is more concerned with authentic language use for real-life communication. In comparison to TBLT, DGBL has more concrete and explicit goal, more immediate feedback and better difficulty balance to adapt to match players’ skill level. These features are good for learners to facilitate their “intrinsic motivations”. I would use these features of digital games in my future language class because language learning is “a process of trial and error, of repetition and practice, and of incremental progress toward larger goals as a long term” according to 7 Things You Should Know About Games and Learning, that means language learning needs immediate correction, step-by-step goal and proper setting of difficulty level. 
     Despite the downsides mentioned in 7 Things You Should Know About Gamification, students may feel disappointed or frustrated if they don’t win as they expect, gamification will be one of my future teaching plan because it can offer me creative opportunities to keep my students engaged in and have a positive attitude toward learning.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How I would use Twitter in my future language class

    Since I started to use twitter these days, I really found it potentially useful in my future class. As a language teacher in the future, the combination of language learning and online technology can be really helpful in my professional development. I get inspired by the twitter using experience and articles on how to properly use twitter for learning and teaching. The following ideas are how I might twitter for my own teaching.
    Twitter as a platform. Twitter is a large and free place for both teachers and students to express their opinions. They can use the hashtag to have a specific topic in language learning process, for example, challenge in learning, or cultural shock in different languages. They can even use the links and images to express themselves and share their resources. Just as mentioned in 35 Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom, one of the interesting ways is to #10 come together. Since twitter is an open place to collect classroom view, they can come together, find each other, follow each other and help each other.

    Twitter as an online diary. My future students can use twitter as a diary book to keep track of their learning process. They can get help from others people, and of course, their teachers. Language leaning is a long and slow process. Using twitter can help students see their progress. For a teacher, I can use twitter as a research diary for my classroom findings, which is also one of the 35interesting ways to use twitter in the classroom. It is a good way to share process and offer instance feedback both for teachers and students.  
    Twitter as learning resources. I personally have the French learning experience by using online technology. I have the Chinese version of Twitter—weibo, to follow those French learning accounts. They often share the French-Chinese translation, French songs and French movies. Just as mentioned in the article Teach Paperless: Back to School: Ideas for Twitter in the Foreign Language Classroom, the author has her students use twitter for translation practice, and also uses it as formative assessment. I would prefer to encourage my students to follow other language accounts and get as many resources as possible. And they can identify their learning progress if they follow different accounts with different levels.

    Future classroom seems so interesting with the help of technology. Stop expecting; start doing now, future teachers! Technology cannot wait.