Spanish cultural learning game
The game build-up is a game, which is applicable for a variety of schoolbooks. The basic idea is very simple and offers an individual approach and application for every teacher. The game is a computer game, which includes the usage of the World Wide Web. The game can be played on various levels, from beginner to advanced learner. The book “¡Apúntate!” serves as an example to explain the game. ¡Apúntate! volume 1 with Cornelsen as publisher is a book which is used to introduce the Spanish language in schools. The book has 10 chapters. Each chapter focuses on different subjects. In the first chapter for instance the emphasis is put on question words in general as well as the irregular verb “ser”, which means “to be”. There are also exercises meant to train the pronunciation and listening comprehension of the letters “b, v” and “c” which are special in Spanish. The second chapter stresses the regular verbs with the ending –“”er” and “-ir”. At the end of chapter 2 there is a section where main grammatical aspects are repeated. In chapter 3 amongst others personal pronouns are introduced. Further subjects, such as various tenses etc. are slowly introduced until the basics of the Spanish language are set. The book offers various ways of introducing the subjects – via repeating the nucleus of the subjects in a game- like situation or forming sentences. In contrast to the book the game allows a more deliberate, variable and adaptable use – adaptable to the need of the children.
Game design The game design looks like a “Mensch ärgere Dich nicht” board. There is a starting and finishing field. In the beginning the number of squares should be limited to a number of 20. The game could get boring if there are only two categories. By doing so repeating two or three subjects is more efficient. Each game should have 3-5 pieces from which the players can choose. There should be a special dice with numbers from 1-3. There is a deck of cards. The number of decks varies according to the number of subjects. If there are two different categories, for instance vocabulary and conjugation, there are two stacks of cards. There are a number of levels of difficulty on each card. The student can choose the level according to his or her possibilities. The name of the fields and cards can be given by the teacher. The names mentioned here are only examples. A maximum of 3-4 players are allowed to play the game.
Basic rules The basic rules of build-up are: You get to throw the dice. You move forward according to the number of the dice. If you reach the “vocabulary field” you are to pick the vocabulary card. If you reach the “grammar field” you are to pick a grammar card. You can choose between three levels of difficulty. If you choose easy you are allowed to move forward one field. If you choose medium, you are allowed to move forward two fields. If you choose “hard” you are allowed to move three squares forward. If you don’t answer the question correctly you have to move back one square. By giving three levels of difficulty every player can choose the level of his or her ability. An example of the levels of difficulty is going to be given later. Whoever manages to finish the game first wins the game. If you win the game you get one point. Whoever manages to win the game 10 times gets a special price. When testing the game good experiences were gained with special prices such as homework vouchers. The homework voucher allows you to forget or not do your homework one time without x any repercussion.
Level 1 The basic idea of this game is to repeat and consolidate your knowledge of a certain language by playing. Therefore the basic level can consist of a pure vocabulary level. Player number one throws the dice and casts a 3. He moves forward by three squares and picks up a card.
Start - Vocabulary - Vocabulary - Vocabulary - Vocabulary - Finish
He or she can then choose one of the following levels, depending on whether he/ she wants to move forward by one, two or three squares. The aim of the student should be to pick the level according to his knowledge
Vocabulary L 1: Hola L2: You meet somebody. What do you say? L3: you have 1 minute. Make a dialogue in which you meet a friend.
If the player answers the question correctly he can move forward one, two or three squares according to the question he or she picked.
Level 2 The second level can consist of another square such as the “conjugation field”. In “Apúntate” one of the first verbs introduced is the word “ser”, which means “to be”. These squarecan be used to practice the newly introduced word. Again, the content of the fields can be individually adapted to the needs of every child. The following pictures show different possibilities of how the conjugation square can look like.
3rd person sing.
- The task in this picture is to say the correct form of the 3rd person singular of the word “ser”
-The task in this image is to a numerate all forms of the verb “ser”
3rd person singular
- Another possible task could be to form sentences with a given form of “ser”. To make the task more difficult a time limit could be set.
Level 3 The next image shows a level, which consists of a mixture between vocabulary and conjugation squares. The principle of applying different levels or adapting the exercises to the needs of the students can also be applied here.
Start - Vocabulary - Conjugation - Vocabulary - Conjugation - Finish
Further levels Further levels of the game could include topics of later subjects in the book, subjects such as pronouns or adjectives.
Every subject of the book or a subject selected by the teacher can be integrated. If new words or subjects which have to be repetitively practiced are integrated it is better to apply “level 1” in order to repeat and consolidate the newly acquired knowledge. Later on they can be integrated with other already acquired fields of knowledge. When the students have reached a higher level of ability other fields can be added. Fields such as
- pen pal/ Writing assignment
- applied geography
The field pen pal/ writing can include tasks such as the following:
“Your pen pal from Madrid is going to visit you next month. Write a mail to your pen pal and tell him how you live.” But also other tasks such as “What do you know and think about the death penalty? When should the death penalty be applied and why?” could be of great interest and success. The teacher could give various types of support by providing the students with internet links. Using “applied geography” the teacher can talk about problems, landscape, school system, religion etc., subjects specific to a country and again provide the students with Internet links in order to let them write a short text about the topics. It is important that the information the students have to gather is not too much in order to preserve the character of the game. To make it more difficult a timeframe came be set. By integrating Internet links or small texts practicing the reading comprehension is also integrated. A possible task in this section could be “Find out information about street children in Chile. Write a short text of about 150 words. You have 10 minutes to gather the information and to write the text.” Disregarding the spelling and grammar mistakes at this point the student still gets to move forward one, two or three fields if he or she answer the question within the time limit.A further level can be integrated in which cultural aspects of the country can be read upon and presented either in class or to other students. Different cultural aspects can be picked. It i advisable to spilt the class into groups of which each group is said to be expert on their own topic.
The role of the teacher The role of the teacher is
a) to provide the necessary words etc. if these are not provided by the publisher. b) to provide the students with the Internet links and texts to read c) to check the texts the students have written d) to make sure the game is played on a regular basis
Every other task such as checking the vocabulary answers can easily be done by the computer.
Build – up is meant to be a game assisting the teacher and approaching the learning process from a game orientated side. The game can be adapted to the needs of each student. If the teacher notices that a student lacks knowledge in the section of conjugation he or she can add more conjugation fields or questions into the game in order to eliminate the pupils weakness.
The teacher should be able to check the students’ results (see what he or she clicked, look at how many correct and false answers the students gave, see the texts the students wrote etc.). Only by doing so the teacher is able to see if the students are taking the task seriously and more important, how to help each student individually.