Social gaming is all the rage in Hong Kong and no doubt also wherever you are in the world. Social games, which include all-time classics Farmville and The Sims, appeal equally to both genders and all ages.
Part of their appeal is that they have no end point, are non-competitive, and are integrated with social networking platforms to encourage sharing.
Meez Avatar Creator is a dressing up game that allows students to customise and save different characters – avatars – and even animate them. It’s a free iPhone app that also works on iPad.
How can all this support language learning? First and foremost, every YL syllabus and national English curriculum requires students to be able to describe people and clothing. Meez allows for situated learning and authentic practice of these lexical sets through a medium students are familiar with.
Through the live listening and dictation activities described below, it asks learners to focus on form and pay attention to detail: eye colour, hairstyle, or the shape of a chin. Finally, it encourages learners to concentrate on meaning, as they work in groups to design their own characters and present them.
The beauty of Meez is that it’s completely language-free – it’s up to you, the experienced teacher, to feed in the language students need for their level. This might involve pre-teaching vocabulary, modelling discussion language, or correcting spoken or written output.
In productive tasks, students will also get to practise and develop key life skills such as communication and collaboration.
Some activities you could try with your students include:
- match lexical items to screenshots of different avatars on the whiteboard or a handout
- listen to your instructions to create an avatar – an avatar-creation dictation
- read and relay your written instructions to create an avatar – a running dictation
- work in pairs or groups to design an avatar, using discussion language like Do you agree? Should we … ?
- present their avatar to the class on the iPad or whiteboard
- write a description of their avatar on paper – or on a Padlet wall – for others to read
- play a listening or reading and matching game using the different avatars they have created
- create a story based on the avatars they have created.
For a full lesson plan using Meez and Padlet, see our other post: Hong Kong’s Got Talent.