There are many different ways to learn a language. Some people listen to music in another language or use apps. In the CMWR, we play games with non-native English speakers (NNES) enrolled in DePaul’s different programs.
A lot of the games we play are word based. We’ve played Apples to Apples which helps new NNES students learn different kinds of adjectives and nouns. This was one of the first games we played this quarter, and the students picked up on it well. As we played, the students realized their responses could be serious and relevant to the card played or outlandishly funny. When the students were unfamiliar with an adjective or a noun card, we took some time to explain what the noun was or what the adjective meant.
A new addition to our repertoire is Spot It!, a game where players try to match symbols together in different mini-games. When we first played the game, many of our participants didn’t know a good chunk of symbols on the cards. However, by the end of the game, they knew the words for lady bug, clown, clover, igloo, and paint splatter. When we played it the following week, Wesley, one of our regular Game Club members, took the initiative to explain to the new players the objective of the game.
In addition to fostering a fun learning environment, we also aim to help create an environment where students feel comfortable enough to take charge like Wesley. During one of Game Club’s first quarters as a fixed CMWR event, a Chinese student showed us how to play a Chinese card game. This idea of encouraging students to teach us is something we like to foster in the CMWR. Last year, a group of three Chinese participants in Conversation and Culture facilitated a Walk & Talk to Chicago’s China Town. Together with Mark, the CMWR’s coordinator, they charted the route we would take, and the places we would visit. On other occasions, Conversation & Culture participants have also created and lead discussion topics.
Different kinds of games have different affordances and limitations, and we’re still at a place where we’re figuring out what works in what context. Understanding how we can move beyond these limitations will only help enable the growth and development of Game Club.
For now, we’ll keep playing games on Wednesdays.