ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Stop Disasters

September 29th, 2007 by Dave · No Comments

floodmapStop Disasters was made as part of the U.N.‘s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. In it, players attempt to prepare a location for one of five different natural disasters using a combination of construction and education. In addition to the game, the website provides a collection of additional resources for teaching about natural disasters.

Players choose from 5 different scenarios (tsunami, flood, wildfire, hurricane and earthquake) and attempt to prepare a location for a disaster. The game is tile-based (like Sim City) and students can choose to build defenses or structures in each tile. In the tsunami scenario, defenses include things like mangrove trees and sand dunes while structures include schools, bamboo huts and hotel apartments. In addition, structures can be upgraded with things like improved foundations and an early warning system.

Finally, for each scenario, specific goals and limits are given. While playing the easiest tsunami level, for example, we are told that we must build two hospitals, one school, and housing for 320 people. In addition, we can have no more than 250 people die and no more than $8000 worth of property damage. We have a 20 minute time limit and a budget of $50,000.

One neat aspect of this game is that, while playing each scenario, 15 “key facts” are revealed. The facts are pretty general, but they could still be useful to language learners. As an example, when you build a hospital in the tsunami scenario, you are told fact #10:

Building (Important Structures)
While schools and hospitals provide important education and medical help, they can also become important meeting and shelter points. Nearly everyone in a community knows where they are so they can get to them quickly. They should always be constructed in safe areas, and be protected as much as possible.

All in all, I think this game could be useful in the language classroom. The time limit on each scenario makes it easy to fit in a single class. In a group activity, students could discuss and implement a plan to try to save lives, learning valuable vocabulary along the way. I also think this game would provide a useful introduction to more educational exercises, where a teacher could bring in more information about specific natural disasters.

Statistics, fact sheets and links to other resources are all provided at the game’s website. This game could be linked to discussions of global warming, as most of the scenarios here (tsunamis, floods, wildfires and hurricanes) are being exacerbated by climate change. Finally, this game might be of particular interest to language learners because some of them might come from places where these disasters routinely occur.

Tags: blog · ESL activity · global issues activities · global issues resources · natural disasters · the environment · video games

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