Thursday, September 18, 2014

Text based adventures

When teaching English as a second language it can be challenging to make your students read or even write something. But when reading becomes an adventure, then... learning gets better!

ZX Spectrum When it comes to reading you have many options. One of them, for common books reading, is explained in my other article the reading corner, which may be more appropriate for students inclined to books.

The other option is a game type called text adventure game. In it you have to go through many landscapes, houses, dark spots, castles… all described in pure text. And your actions are introduced likewise, typing text. Nowadays it’s not easy to find such jewels, as technology has given game developers complex tools to produce close to reality games. So, what’s the plan? Easy, we have to use an emulator, playable in a computer and in a mobile device.

Let me introduce you to ZXSpectrum, my first computer (yes, I’m 40). For this device tons of text adventures were developed. It happened the same for other contemporary computers, like Amstrad, Atari, Commodore… Some nostalgic people have generously maintained a website called World of Spectrum with an abundant  archive of games and a list of emulators for your computer.

But things get easier for you and your students. Forget about installing, downloading and executing anything when you can do it automatically with this marvelous android application: USP - ZX Spectrum Emulator. It not only emulates, it also has an integrated game downloading system.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Start the application.
  2. Pop the menu (left button), and click on Open File.
  3. Choose the WOS tab and select a game.
  4. The RZX tab is for showing how to complete a game! It’ll give you a glimpse of what to do if you get stuck.

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The app will download the game and make it run. From that moment on use the keyboard to control the flow.

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Look at this video. I’ve used the RZX option so the game goes ahead on its own. Just relax and see how these games are played.

Now think a plan for your lessons:

  1. Make your students play for a week or so to see who goes farther.
  2. They’ll record words they didn’t previously know (e.g ColorDict).
  3. The same for collocations, expressions, etc.
  4. They’ll have to rank the game.
  5. After playing for some time they’ll write theirs (I’ll explain it in a future post).

As you can see it’s fantastic to go back in time to find resources for your classroom.