Runescape is a very popular online role playing game where players can interact with each other within a medieval style fantasy world. It has a short tutorial which serves to walk new players through some of the simple every day in-world activities such as choosing what their character looks like (physical features and clothes) and fighting dragons. There is a lot of text in the runescape tutorial but the graphics and the action scenes make the reading both fun and functional. For difficult language items, learners can use dictionaries (online or printed), ask you or record it in their own gaming dictionary which you can help with as you monitor.
There are 4 steps you need to take before you start playing and you may have to talk your learners through it. Within five minutes though you should all be in and starting out on your first task – kill the dragon!
1 Click on play Runescape (it takes a minute or so to load)
2 Create an account (the information given here is confidential)
3 Supply an email and agree to terms and conditions ( email is used if you need to recover your password and ticking all the boxes is usually what I ask learners to do)
4 Enter your character’s name & password.
If you are lucky enough to have a computer/ learner ratio of 1:1 then great but you can always get them to play this game in pairs. In the reading task they may be able to peer teach difficult language items.
As the game starts your learners get exposure to ‘parts of the body’ vocabulary. You can see them listed on the left in the screenshot.
Click on a ‘part of the body, and lots of language associated with that body part appears to the right of the list. You could argue there’s a lot to pre-teach here but why not let learners just play. They can see what each vocabulary item means by clicking on it and looking at the changes to their character (or avatar) on the right.
Once your learners have decided what their character/ avatar is going to look like they start the game. First there are a few control instructions telling them what keys to use in the game and which the game then tests them on by getting your learner to do some actions using those keys. They then find themselves in a room with a knight, an elf and a dragon. What do they need to do now? Well, they will have to go and talk to the knight, Sir Vant:
In the screenshot above, Sir Vant is the knight standing between me and the dragon (phew!). He’ll ask your learners to do a few things via text boxes that appear in the bottom left hand corner. Your learners need to read, understand and then do these instructions. There are some nice uses of the first conditional in the game:
You do get other tasks that your learners can do:
But I think it’s fair to say that fighting a dragon is enough to be getting on with, at least for one class.
Tell your learners if they get stuck they should go and see Sir vant. If one group is having considerable difficulty, ask another group that is doing well to help them out (in English!).
What you can also do is get your learners to record the in-game language by making a gaming dictionary. You can either download the Gaming Dictionary Template or simply ask your learners to turn their notebooks upside down and turn to the back page. Then ask them to draw four columns and then simply dictate the four titles above each column from the Gaming Dictionary Template
There are a few times when the game will ask your learners to choose what they would like their character to say. They will then see 2 or three options. The answer they choose will decide the direction the game takes. Easy to understand? Why not play the game yourself and see what it’s like?