Monthly Archives: July 2010

Dressing Up Game

Level: Beginner’s

Language: Have got . . . / is wearing . . .     Clothes and colours

Skills Focus: Writing

Location: Computer room

Summer is coming and Digital play is taking a break for the summer.  We’ll be back in September with a lot of new activities, articles and lessons.  Our last bog post here today is a dressing up game.  One for the girls.

Girls: Summer holiday

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  • Preteach vocabulary for parts of the body, clothes and colours.  Prepare a basic worksheet for learners to complete. e.g.

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  • Take your learners to the computer room and get them to play the game and write the description.
  • Learners can print off their character.

Post Play

  1. Put the characters spread out over the four walls.
  2. Read out the learner’s descriptions to their character.
  3. The class listens, identifies which picture is being described and go and stand next to it.
  4. Put the description by the picture.
  5. When all the descriptions are next to a picture get your learners to sit down.  Take down the pictures and ask whose it is.  Hand it back and check if the description by it is also theirs.


See you in September

While you’re waiting for us to return, why not post some of your ideas, games played and classroom anecdotes here.

Bow Street Runner – A murder mystery.

Level: Upper intermediate/ Advanced

Topic:  Murder Mystery

Language skill: Reading & listening

Game: Bow Street Runner

“This game is set in London’s Covent Gardens in the 1750s, and depicts a time when crime and vice in the city had hit such levels that the local magistrates began to introduce the first instances of physical policing of law and order.  BOW STREET RUNNER is designed to be historically accurate, and therefore the game’s content and its settings may not be suitable for younger players.”

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This games video scene clips recorded using actors makes this series of interactive murder mystery adventures incredibly engaging, authentic and life like.  You actually feel you are seeing what London was like at the time.  The sound effects can be a little disturbing but add to the dark and sinister atmosphere of the gaming experience.  To pique your interest here’s a little trailer for the game:

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While you explore the game looking for clues much in the way you play a standard point and click game there are plenty of opportunities for your learners to get some reading practice in as each clue is annotated with information on how the clue may be relevant to both the case and to how London was in the 1750s.  As you journey through the games playscape you come across various characters from the time who each have something to say regarding the case you are following.  You choose the direction of your enquiries and hear and read (there are subtitles) what each character has to say.  Finally you have to present your evidence to the magistrate by listening to his questions and putting forward the evidence you have built up over the course of your investigation.

How to use it with learners

I think this is very much an autonomous standalone game.  Either treat it as a reading activity in the computer room, where learners may use an online dictionary or you the teacher for language support, or seek to expose your learners to more English outside the classroom by suggesting it for homework.  If you choose the later then it may be a good  idea to introduce them to the game in the computer room.  Whichever option you choose you may also like to think about encouraging your learners to make a note of some of the more interesting / useful language that they come across.

Extra game support

There are 5 episodes in total and you may like to have access to the Bow Street Runners walkthrough for use with your learners in contact time or even give your learners the opportunity to have access to it from outside class time.


Level: Upper intermediate

Topic:  Jungle adventure

Language skill: Reading and online dictionary work

Game: Hetherdale the game Hetherdale the walkthrough

There is a mystery to solve and its your job as intrepid explorer Dr. Montrose to solve it.  Play the game as you read the story and find out the mystery surrounding the secret jungle city of Hetherdale.

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  1. If you can show the video introduction in class and brainstorm a few ideas on what they think the story is about and what they think they will need to do in the game.
  2. Tell them they are going to go online and use three internet explorer windows to 1) play a game using 2) a walkthrough and 3) an online dictionary when necessary.
  3. What English words do they predict will be in the walkthrough.  What words do they predict that they don’t know the word in English for.  Get them to explain them to you to translate and write up on a board.


In the computer room get them to open three internet explorer windows and direct them to this site.

They can use the links above the picture here to 1) play the game 2) find a walkthrough and for 3) they should find an online dictionary to use.  Ask them if they know any good ones.


They can then play the game using the three internet explorer windows.  Your role is to monitor, help with language and make sure that each learner gets a turn to use the mouse to play the game.

Post Play

If they don’t complete the game in class then set it for homework.  It’s a bit risky to hope to continue the game next class.  Some learners may well go home and complete the game without you telling them to or not.  Next class you can ask learners to explain the story to you.  You can ask about:

Who was in it?

What part did they play in the game?

What locations were there?

What happened at each location?

What were the most difficult parts?

Was it a good story?  etc

10 Reasons Why Video Games Are Good For The Soul

Here’s a brief description of ten online articles about how video games have been seen to successfully teach or educate for real life skills.

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1 Computer games make maths fun in school.

An article from the online UK Guardian newsgroup about how a school in nottinghamshire is developing lesson plans and activities for the wii sport.  The console game is being used as a platform to enrichstudents learning experience in a maths class and seems to be proving very popular with students.

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2. Using ICT to inspire a creative approach to writing

Homepage for the MYST writing project which sees a visually stimulating adventure video game called MYST to stimulate writing.  It is being used in over 200 schools in Kent, England.

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3 .Video games valid learning tools

BBC article that talks about a study stating that video games may be more effective than reading written text.  Looks at a video game set in Victorian England and how pupils retain facts from the game.

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4. Research shows video games lead to fewer mistakes on the operating table

Article by the American newsgroup USATODAY on how viddeo games are being used to improve hand eye coordination skills in surgeons.  Playing video games before going into surgery increases a surgeon’s success rate.

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5 Consolarium on BBC News – Gaming in Education

Scotland’s Derek Robertson explains how gaming education projects with the Nintendo DS are motivating and improving attainment in Scottish Students.

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6 Unlocking learning through video games with Clasemovil

Online technology article by Techcrunch about a South American fun learning community project that seeks to target a wide range of the curriculum using educational games.

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7 Free online games develop ESL students’ language skills

Tech and learning article by Larry Ferlazzo, an teacher, blogger and materials developer.  He talks on how he has successfully incorporated gaming into the English language learning classroom with young learners..

Screen shot 2010-02-14 at 11.40.01 AM8 How Video games changed a generation of athletes

Wired article on how an American football game win owed its winning strategy to a video game inspired move.

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9. Using World of Warcraft to Teach English?

Gaming website Gamasutra interviews Edd Schneider and Kai Zeng who presented their idea for ‘ English Speaking Players as In-Game Content: New Ideas for Marketing to Youth in Asia at a Game Developer’s Conference.

10 Fast ForWord program designed to improve literacy skills

This is a reading intervention program based in the United States that claims to not only improve literacy skills but also leads to stronger memory and greater self esteem.  Have a look at some of the sample games they have.

Total Eclipse – Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Level: Intermediate+

Location: Connected classroom

Skills Focus: Reading/ Watching/ Speaking

Video: 8-Bit Twilight Eclipse Interactive

If you teach teen girls and you haven’t heard of Twilight, no scratch that, if you have been living on planet Earth and you haven’t heard of Twilight then get with it.  This teen phenomenon that has swept the world is due to release its third film installment ‘Eclipse’.  To mark this momentous occasion in many a fans diary Digital Blog brings you a couple of fun video activities with a fun ‘game’ look and feel.


  1. Write on the board “Are you team Edward or team Jacob?” on the board.
  2. Elicit an answer and brainstorm the titles of the books/ characters/ any of the plot details/ relationship with Bella Jacob & Edward.
  3. Decide which of the two videos you’ll watch below (or which order if you are going to do both.
  4. Tell the class they are going to watch some videos of a new ‘Eclipse’ game and they have to predict what the characters say.
  5. Connect to this page and use the videos and letterscript below (double clicking on the videos will take you directly to the youtube site).


  1. Play the video.
  2. Learners copy and expand on the letterscript.
  3. Repeat as necessary.

Team Edward video

After your learners have watched the video ask them to expand on the ‘letter script’ below.  Each letter represents the first letter of a word and the symbols and numbers also represent a word.  Punctuation is punctuation.

e.g.  IW♥2BAV  = I would love to be a vampire.


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Team Jacob video

After your learners have watched the video ask them to expand on the ‘letter script’ below.  Each letter represents the first letter of a word and the symbols and numbers also represent a word. Punctuation is punctuation.

e.g.  IW♥2BAW  = I would love to be a werewolf.


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During both of the videos above there are moments when you are asked to make a choice between two decisions.  It’s a nice activity to pause the video at these points and ask the class which option they would choose and why.  You can then continue playing the video.


You could always judge what your learners choose to expand their letters to on individual merit.  There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to stray from the script if what they produce contains interesting language.