Gamify your classroom!

Workshop given at the 10th annual LATE conference in Riga, Latvia, Friday 24th August 2012 and at the LATE PCW Wednesday 22nd August 2012

Gamification is using game design techniques and game thinking to enhance non-game contexts. Used well, it can make the classroom more engaging for learners. In this workshop, I’ll be looking at some practical ways teachers of young learners, teenagers, and adults can use gamification, with or without technology, to spice up their classes.

1) Gamification

In ELT, there are many ways you can use gamification to motivate learners:
  • Class Dojo is the best tool to use with Young learners
  • With 12-14 year-olds, you can adapt a site such as Chore Wars
  • If you teach in a connected classroom (i.e. one with Internet access - a projector and computer and/or IWB), then see Unlocked Achievements
  • If you have no computer in the classroom, don't worry, you can still use gamification

Apart from gamification, computer games can be used to practise language skills:

2) Live Listening

Works well with puzzle games. Students need to listen to the teacher in order to be able to 'escape the room' or solve a problem.
The teacher needs to use a walkthrough (i..e. the solution to the game)


3) Reading

Similar to the live listening idea, but instructions are written for the students to follow
  • Spent - for upper-intermediate/advanced learners (encourages class discussion too)
  • Harry Quantum - for intermediate learners (and above)

4) Writing

Many games lend themselves to writing, but some can be used to stimulate creative writing

5) Speaking

Some games lend themselves well to class discussions. Others can be played in pairs.

6) Try it out yourself

You are now going to look at an award winning puzzle game and decide how you would adapt it for language learning.

If you want to, write notes in your blog about what you would do, or just talk about it together

The game is called Samorost 2 and can be found here:

Some ideas to get you started:
- Try the game out first
- Look for the 'walkthrough'

Supporting Slideshow

Further Reading

Digital Play (the blog) - lesson plans and ideas for using computer games in the classroom
Game to Learn - Ideas for exploiting Online Games for language learning
Mawer, K & G Stanley, Digital Play: computer games and language aims (Delta Publishing)
Sheldon, L. (2012) The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game, Boston: Cengage Learning
Stanley, G (2012) Gamification and language teaching (Introduction)
Teaching and Language Learning Through Gamification:
Mawer, K (2011) - 101 Ways to use Samorost2