If you are a regular to this blog, then you’ll know that not all online computer games are ideal for using in the language classroom. Some genres are better than others. This is a new series looking at the genres we recommend, why they are good for language learning/teaching, how best to exploit them, and then example lesson plans with some games.
The first of the series looks at what is perhaps Digital Play’s favourite genre: the escape the room game.
Genre: Escape the room
Description: A point-and-click adventure game where players have to escape from imprisonment by exploiting their surroundings. Sometime they are called simply escape games, because not all of them involve a room!
Reason for using: What makes escape the room games good for language teaching is the fact that they are puzzles that have an inbuilt information gaps. The puzzles are usually very difficult to solve, unless you have a walkthrough (i.e. the solution to the game, presented in order). fortunately for teachers, whenever a game is popular (i.e. a good game) there will be a walkthrough to it that players have produced and posted on the Internet.
Tasks: Escape the room games make good live listening (i.e. listening comprehension when the teacher speaks) activities. This is the easiest way of exploiting the game for language learning, and it requires very little preparation. All the teacher needs is the walkthrough to the game. You read the clues out to the students, grading the language to suit the level of the class, and check comprehension by noticing which students move on in the game (if they were listening to you and understood, then they know what to do next).
There are, of course, plenty of other ways of using these games for other skills work, or for practising vocabulary or grammar. You can see examples of these below.
Examples with lesson plans:
- MOTAS (lesson plan), Mystery of Time and Space. Perhaps the most popular escape the room game, created in 2001, with 20 levels increasing in difficulty. The puzzles are varied, and involve collecting objects, moving parts of the room, deciphering passwords, etc. A joy to play and one which works very well with students.
- The great kitchen escape (lesson plan). An example of an escape game that can be used to help learners with kitchen vocabulary, and with describing objects.
- Escape the plush room (lesson plan). This time, the escape the room game has been used to help students with short answers and prepositions.
- Room fake (lesson plan). Give the students the numbered walkthrough and this game becomes a reading comprehension.