The Trace Effects games and associated curriculum demonstrated merit in being a fun learning experience for primarily ELL students.
The Trace Effects website can be used a supplemental learning tool or re-enforcement of learning English language. Trace Effects was developed by the US Department of State and is intended for learners all over the world as a means of promoting American English and understanding of American culture. It may also be an interesting learning tool for younger ages that are not ELL.
Trace Effects is a college student from the year 2045 that has time traveled back to the current time in an effort to change his future for the better. To complete his mission Trace must help other people from the current time accomplish certain tasks, which in turn will return him to the future from which he came. The games were fun and engaging to play.
Trace Effects is player controlled game (online requiring the download of a plugin to run, or by disk) in which the player controls Trace, his actions, and conversations with game avatars/characters. The game did seem glitchy after reaching certain levels of progression and it was unclear if this just the way we played the game or if it was a global issue. These technical glitches could interfere with progression and learning.
Resources included in Trace Effects include practice vocabulary games (matching, fill in the blank, etc.) and multi-player games that this reviewer was unable to engage in as the games were unable to find other online players to play with. In addition to these game based resources there are learner and teacher resources via hyperlink to the http://americanenglish.state.gov/ website where audio files, .pdf’s of classic literature, and more resources for teachers and learners regarding topics/lessons in American English and culture. These resources are relevant and appropriate as supplemental materials for the game play.
The Trace Effects game begins as a graphic novel style story that turns into the online game. After downloading the plugin, the game turned out to have a small learning curve (learning how to maneuver the Trace avatar, using the w, a,s, & d keys, and follow all the options and hints). Once over the learning curve, the game became relatively engaging. And while it was fun to play (accomplishing checkpoints along the way), some teens may consider it too juvenile. The graphics were similar to the The Sims games.
The game demonstrated a distinct pedagogy for novice English learners engaging players in choosing correct responses to different questions in different scenarios. It also exposes learners to various relevant conversations between other characters and requires users to understand and remember instructions given by various characters in the game.
If students stay interested in and continue playing the game, coupled with teacher instruction using resources provided at http://americanenglish.state.gov/, the Trace Effects website, its games and curriculum, demonstrated merit in being a fun learning experience for English language learners.
How I Use It
Trace Effects was developed by the US Department of State and is intended for learners all over the world as a means of promoting American English and understanding of American culture. It may also be an interesting learning tool for younger ages that are not ELL.