by Erica Alexander
This webquest is designed to assist students with learning English by using a fun, interactive computer simulation game. Students will travel to and begin their lives in the United States. Sample online activities include asking for and receiving directions, finding a place to stay, making friends, and going to the doctor's office.
The ideas from the "A Quest to the United States" lesson/game came from an online game similarly designed from an anthropology professor I took during my undergraduate college years. The game this professor designed is called "Ethnoquest" and is designed for budding anthropologists as a way to immerse one's self in cultural ethnography and fieldwork in a Mexican cultural setting. The professor had been studying and researching the indigenous cultures of Mexico and Central America for over 30 years and collaborated with 2 other anthropologists in the late 90s to design what we know today as "Ethnoquest." "Ethnoquest" is a computer simulation game where students travel from the United States to an indigenous part of Mexico to conduct ethnographic fieldwork among the indigenous people. Each level has a different theme such as food, making alters, making new friends, asking for help, getting around the town, etc. Students are highly advised to take notes throughout the game as it will help them in taking quizzes-- in addition, to learning new facts about the culture and remembering information when making crucial decisions.
I feel that adapting this idea for English language learners was a sound way to incorporate developing social skills in a culture that is different, learning about the ways of the target culture, and applying students' English skills to real-life situations. This interactive game incorporates both fun and critical thinking skills. Users will be scored differently based on the decisions they make throughout the course of the game-- in other words, there are no wrong or right ways to play the game...only better decisions to make over others just as in life. This type of game can benefit students in several ways in that they are using English in all four of the content areas to advance their lives academically, linguistically, socially, and within the employment field.