Using locks in ELT
• Players crack codes / cyphers to get
• Number are hidden on documents –
they are the reference numbers on files
• Riddles reveal the Word required to
open the lock
• Physical clues are hidden in the room,
each with a number on it
• Dates of birth / historical dates etc.
Puzzle design for ELT escape rooms
• Rule 14: Language should usually be the focus of the puzzle
1) "rotate the dial
to 30 on the left,
unless the dial is
green, in which
case you must first
rotate the dial to
number 15 on the
2) "open the
lock on the
door with a
This video explores the use of locks in live escape rooms for language teaching, English language teaching in particular.
We will look at what to consider when using locks in your Escape Rooms, particularly when the objective of the activity is for learning or practising English.
So, to begin with, let’s explore the kind of locks you might want to use, especially in reference to language teaching and learning.
You might want to stop the video at this point and discuss this with someone if you are not watching this alone If you are on your own, just take a moment to reflect on these questions and write some notes.
Let’s start with the classic padlock with a key. IT’s useful to use this type of lock if your setting and story is in the past, at a time when this was the only type of padlock available.
If you are using this, then you need to be careful you don’t mislay the key during the game, or you won’t be able to open the lock.
Then we have a three-number combination padlock
These are inexpensive locks that lend themselves well to Escape Room games because you can incorporate puzzles and / or ciphers in your game – the players can find clues or solve puzzles to find the correct number to be able to open the lock. You can buy different coloured locks to differentiate between them and then indicate during the game which colour lock particular clues open.
If you are using this, then you need to be careful you keep a record of the number, or you won’t be able to open the lock.
A nice lock to use for language learning Escape Rooms
You can change the wheels on these locks to produce a four-letter keyword that fits with your story or setting and which you can provide a puzzle or clue for.
These locks are more expensive.
A variation on the previous lock
You can also change the wheels on these locks to produce a four-letter keyword with numbers that fits with your story or setting and which you can provide a puzzle or clue for.
These locks are more expensive.
A letter code lock that requires a much longer string of letters. They look Victorian. You can hide something inside this that will help players escape the room.
These locks are expensive.
This is similar to the lock you find on a safe. You need to dial a series of numbers clockwise and anti-clockwise.
They are more difficult to use and are quite expensive.
This is a directional lock. It is an interesting lock to use for ELT Escape Room games.
Your clue for this one can be Up-Down-Left-Right or North-South-East-West. There is no limit to the amount of directions you can use.
It can be difficult to operate, however.
This is a digital lock. Your clue can be alphanumerical.
There are a variety of bicycle cable locks that you might want to use, depending on what you are trying to secure. This is handy if you want to prevent players from using a particular object – you can attach it to a radiator, etc.
A nice variation, and can work well with many story settings.
Briefcases aren’t that common these days but can be found at second-hand shops.
You could purchase a box that has a combination lock built in.
Electronic number pad. You are unlikely to be able to use this in a classroom setting, but you do find them in live escape rooms used for entertainment.
There are also a number of different websites that will give you digital locks . If your students have mobiles or access to a computer, this can be a way of locking a piece of information or a code they need.
You can use a hasp if you want to lock something with a number of different locks. This can be useful if you are doing group work with students, or if the intention is not to escape the room, but to break into a box.
So, now we have taken a look at many different types of locks, how can you best incorporate them into your ELT Escape Room games? Here are some ideas.
In the video on puzles, we looked at making language the focus. I included these two examples with reference to locks.
The first example here opens up the directional lock.
The second (answer = nova (The Spanish for “does not work” is no va) is the clue to the word lock shown in the picture.
This video explores the use of locks in live escape rooms for language teaching, English language teaching in particular. I’ll also briefly mention other props you can use.
We will look at what to consider when using locks and props for Escape Rooms, particularly when the objective of the activity is for learning or practising English, rather than having fun.