“We want to put on the special shoes and sneak past the sleeping Vampires to the window and open the curtains, the sun will shine and all the Vampires will die.”

Said 11 year old Hugo after a brief and heated discussion with his 10 year old sister Gemma. For the last 3 weeks of my weekly hour and a half English class with the two Spanish children we have been playing English Dungeon adventures. These comprise a Microsoft Paint map like the one shown below and a set of different target verbs; for this particular map they include swing, sneak, open, lock / unlock etc. The aim of the lesson is for the children to use the target structures and vocabulary in a context which feels as far away from the classroom as possible. The maps contain a series of simple puzzles for example using the sunlight to kill the Vampires, or the silver bullets for the Werewolves. The children must explain to the teacher exactly what they want to do or try to do in English and then achieve these aims through the rolling of dice. The idea being that as the children are caught up in the excitement of the story and adventure they begin to use English in a more natural and instinctive way.

I find these classes work best with small groups of children up to the age of 13 when they tend to become “too cool”. They can be adapted for different levels, you can demand more complex structures from more competent students or for weaker students you can preteach more vocabulary and structures before entering the Dungeon. Possible follow activities include working back through the adventures in the past tense; “what did you do in this room?” “we opened the treasure chest and found the…” etc. With a little imagination new maps and adventures can be drawn up in minutes on MS paint, with letters to represent different monsters or objects and the activity has a huge scope in terms of broadening vocabulary, and improving fluidity. So any English teachers feel free to use this map and instruction sheet and let me know how you get on. Who said all those hours spent playing Angband in my youth were wasted?

Dungeon game instructions

Students start game in room one, they each have 10 hit points.

Room 1

Question monster – What is the capital of Germany?

1 chest contains special soft shoes for sneaking.

2nd chest contains a delicious hamburger.

Room 2

Contains 4 sleeping vampires and a closed window, it is sunny outside.

Solution: Put on special shoes and sneak past vampires to open window and kill them all. Must roll higher on dice. If they roll lower the vampires wake up and bite them -1 hit point

Room 3

Contains a very fat man and a locked door.

Solution: Give hamburger to Fat man, fat man gives you a gold key, unlock door.

Room 4

Contains a pit full of snakes and a rope.

Chest contains 2 gold coins.

Solution: Use rope to swing over pit of snakes, must beat the teachers roll on a dice if they roll lower snake bites them -1 hit point.

Room 5

Contains 2 question monsters and a shop. Shop keeper has a gun with 6 silver bullets and a big block of ice, they cost 1 gold coin each.

Questions:

Who is the fastest man in the world? Usain Bolt

What is 24 X 4?   96

Solution: Answer questions and buy gun and ice with coins.

Room 6

Contains a huge fiery breathing dragon! There are lots of bones on the floor.

Solution: Give the dragon the block of ice to cool his fire. SS must roll higher than teacher.

Room 7

Contains 3 Werewolves!

Solution: Shoot the werewolves with the silver bullets. SS must roll higher than teacher.

Room 8

Contains lots of small hungry dogs, If SS try to enter the dogs bite them, and a big treasure chest.

Solution: Go back to room 6 and collect the bones, give them to the dogs. SS open the treasure chest and get lots of treasure, congratulations.

Depending on level give ss verbs before playing.

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