A Live Listening Escape Room for English learners
Digital Play: Computer Games and Learning Aims (Delta,
Remote Teaching (British Council, 2019)
Language Learning with Technology (CUP, 2013)
What is an
1) Live Listening
Escape Room for
2) Ideas for designing
your own escape room
for English learners
Where are we?
What is this room?
Where are we now?
How do we open a door?
What do we do?
Is this sheet of paper important?
Why do we need it?
What do the symbols mean?
Is this sheet of paper magic?
What can we see through the hole?
Which wall do we point the paper at?
Who is this man?
What is the significance of the books?
How can we open the lock?
DESIGNING YOUR OWN
1) Learning objectives / language to be learned or practised
2) Story / setting
3) Puzzle design - maximise time learning/practising language
4) Check: disguised test / gamified exercises? (i.e. is it fun?)
5) Check: not just fun (i.e. will students be learning?)
6) Play Test: (difficult? Follow the path through the ER?)
Approach to ELT LERG game design
OTHER ONLINE ESCAPE ROOM GAMES
An ELT LLER (Live Listening Escape Room) by Graham Stanley (2020)
In this workshop, we will play part of an online escape room game and then I will discuss how best to go about designing your own similar type of game for language teaching and learning.
Unless otherwise noted, all images used under licence, from https://scop.io/
About Graham Stanley I am based in CDMX and work for the British Council In my day job, I am English for Educational Systems Lead for the Americas, which includes being SRO for the Plan Ceibal Remote English teaching project
I am newsletter editor of the IATEFL LTSIG
I am co-author of Digtal Play; author of Language learning with Technology; and Editor of Remote Teaching.
An ELT LLER (Live Listening Escape Room) by Graham Stanley (2020)
This workshop has two parts. First, we will play part of an online escape room game and then I will discuss how best to go about designing your own similar type of game for language teaching and learning.
First of all, what is an escape room? Have any of you ever done one? Have any of you ever done one with students? An Escape Room is a game in which a team of Players cooperatively discover clues, solve puzles and accomplish tasks in one or more romos in order to accomplish a goal (usually involving escaping from a room!) in a limited amount of time.
Escape the Rooms started as a videogame genre and are still popular. In 2003, a live escape room, the Dungeon, was opened in Indianaoplis in USA and this was followed by Escape Rooms opening in Japan and other parts of the US. In 2011, the first European Escape Room game was opened in Hungary and there was an explosión of live Escape Room games. In 2019 there was an estimated 50,000 rooms worldwide. Live escape romos also became popular with teachers, who have turned their classrooms into escape rooms. Because of COVID-19, this workshop, however, will look at how you can run an online ER, in particular how you can design a LLER.
The advantage of a LLER is that it can be adapted to any level of language by the teacher grading language and you can also introduce conepts and puzles that would be very difficult if not imposible to introduce in a live classroom ER game.
For this workshop, I’d like up to 5 active volunteers who can use their microphones and are hapy to play through an example game. So, any volunteers? The rest of you can play along and put your suggestions in the chat.
ROOM 1. THE ROOM WITH NO DOORS OR WINDOWS
DESCRIPTION (Read aloud to the students) You can’t remember what happened to you, only that you fell asleep and started to dream about a strange place where you were trapped and needed to escape. When you wake up you don’t recognise where you are.
You wake up in the middle of a small room. It is dark and there are no doors or windows. A wooden chair stands in the middle of the room. What do you want to do?
TEACHER’S NOTES: If you have a large class, split the students into groups and let each group take turns telling you what to do.
If the students examine the chair, they will find it is bolted to the floor. If they try moving the chair, they find when they knock it over, a trap door opens in the floor. Tell them if the distance to the floor below is too much – if they drop then they will break their legs.
When they investigate the room, they will find a long rope in a corner. If they investigate the walls, they will find a large iron hook attached to one of the walls. They can then put the rope on the hook and drop it down through the trap door. When they do this, each of the players can climb down using the rope. When they get to the bottom, ask them what they want to do with the rope (take it with them, leave it behind).
DESCRIPTION (Read aloud to the students) You are now in the middle of a small room. It is dark and there is a door on each of the walls. The walls are different colours, but in the dark it’s difficult to see the exact colours. You can probably see what colours a wall is if you walk closer to it. Each door is painted the same colour as the wall. What do you want to do?
O R A N G E B P G L R A X E C E K SN Y E L L O W
TEACHER’S NOTES: The students’ position is marked with the X above. Let the students take turns telling you what to do. None of the doors have door handles or key holes, so there is no way of opening them. When the students get near to a wall (walk straight ahead / to the left/ to the right / behind us), the colour will become clear to them (i.e. tell them the colour). If they look in the corner of the green and yellow walls, they Will find a pair of scissors (S) If they look in the corner of the orange and blue walls (P), they will find a piece of paper on the floor (turn to the next slide).
ROOM 2. PUZZLE - THE MAGIC SHEET OF PAPER (2/3)
DESCRIPTION (Read aloud to the students) You look at the piece of paper carefully and see it has some symbols marked on it in the middle. What do you want to do?
TEACHER’S NOTES: When the students cut (they will need to rip it with their hands or use the scissors) a hole through the paper, read the following… You cut/rip the paper down the lines and can see something strange when you look through the hole in the paper – you don’t see the room behind the paper, but something else.
Turn to the next slide.
ROOM 2. PUZZLE - THE MAGIC SHEET OF PAPER (3/3)
DESCRIPTION (Read aloud to the students) Which direction/wall do you point the hole in the paper at?
TEACHER’S NOTES: If the students point the paper at each of the walls, they will see a different world / dimension behind each one: (Read only when they look through the paper at the specific wall). If they point the wall at the foor, they see only black; at the ceiling, they see blue skies with clouds.
O R A N G E B G L R A Z E C E K N Y E L L O W
ORANGE WALL: When you look through the hole, you see a highrise building (skyscraper) in the distance. It is at least twenty storeys high. BLACK WALL: Looking through the hole in the paper you can see a forest in the distance, with lots of tres. GREEN WALL: When you look through the hole you see the same wall of the room, and the door, but there’s something different about the door. (What is different?) You can see a door handle now. YELLOW WALL: Looking through the hole, you can see the sea in the distance. There is a ship sailing on the waves. It looks like it’s a cruise ship.
The students need to move near to the green wall, put their hand through the hole and open the door using the door handle to escape from this room (turn to next slide)
ROOM 3. BOOK PUZZLE (1/1)
DESCRIPTION (Read aloud to the students) You walk through the door and find yourself in a small patio with a fountain. There is a door at one end of the patio, but it is locked with a combination padlock. In front of the door stands a man holding a pile of books. What do you do?
When they approach the man, he hands the students the books and then walks off through the door the Players came through. He doesn’t talk to anyone, and closes the door they came through. There is no handle on this side, so they won’t be able to follow him.
The 17 books are all in English and they look like they are from a library as they all have codes on them. They seem to all be books related to Escape Rooms*. One of the books is entitled (code = 715, the same number as the locked door) is a novel called ‘My Struggle to Escape the Room’ by I.M.A. Puzzle - Scribbled on the inside of the book (tell the students only if they pen this book) is the number 973 – this is the number of the combination to the padlock)
When the students tell you the correct combination, move to the next slide.
* If students ask about the titles, you can use some of these, or make them up: Stories of Escape Rooms; How I opened the locks; I failed to get out; etc.
This is intended as an example oral Escape Room for you to build upon. Why not add more images and puzles?
It is also mystery escape room with a minimal storyline – is it necessary to have more of a story? What benefits would there be in expanding the storyline? As it stands, follow up activities for students might include writing their own narratives about what happened and how they escaped the place – they can add what happened before and after, adding their own sory ideas. Alternatively, they could role-play telling the pólice about it and describing the mystery man, who they think must have been involved.
Discussion This Powerpoint can be used in the ELT classroom with Intermediate level+ students. It can also be used as a live online activity with language learners. It is a live listening / speaking activity. You can adapt the language to the level of the students. This escape room has been designed to show what can be done, to provoke curiosity and get students speaking / listening without focus on any particular area of language. You might want to design a similar escape room that targets a particular language point, etc.
The game should take 30-40 minutes for the students to complete. You can ask the students to write a story/report based on their experience when they have finished and escaped the room.
If you have a large class, split the students into groups of 5 and let each group take turns telling you what to do. To begin, display the PPT and read the initial description on each page, asking the students to respond.
Some of the pages require the students to search areas of a space or carry out actions, as they would do if they were looking for clues in a physical Escape Room Game, only they can only do so by using language to tell you where to look. If you have a large class, then I suggest splitting them into groups and ask each group to take turns to search an area of the room until they find the way out.
Other pages have puzzles the students need to solve. You can ask them to do this in groups. When a group thinks they have the solution,ask them to tell you, and then you can respond and let them know if it is right. If they do not get it right, then the other groups continue until the correct solution is found.
You could do the whole activity all at once, or use it as a warmer / finisher with students, doing one room / puzzle each class at the beginning or the end.
DESIGNING YOUR OWN
I recommend Backwards Design as the approach to designing ERs for language learners, which Gary Motteram talked about this yesterday in his session.
Advantages of live listening Escape Rooms: You can do this with an online class as well as f2f You can more easily add elements that a re magical or fantastical in nature using photographs or just via what you say.
Other Online Escape Room Games
There are other ways of doing digital escape room games – here’s one that Michelle Worgan, co-moderator on the TESOL EVO 2020 Escape the Classroom! Session has done that Works well as a self-Access activity. It uses a tool called Thinglink and is based on hotspots added to a 360 degree photo.
You can find more ideas here: https://escaperoomelt.wordpress.com/ We also have a Community of Practice where teachers can share their ideas and escape rooms and find help and support from other language teachers interested in ERs
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