Quick Look: Directions- A Language Learning Adventure
Designer: Karen Rees
Publisher: S.O.A.R. Edu
Year Published: (Currently on Kickstarter)
Directions a Language Learning Adventure, gives authentic experience with giving and taking directions, and building names in a fun game. Players can choose between 7 levels of difficulty to best meet their needs at their skill level. A lost person will ask for directions from where the player is on the board. The player then will give directions in the target language. The more you speak the more you will move as movement is done by counting verbs. This is a perfect supplemental study piece to any language study. Thus you would need to look up or have a textbook that covers how to give directions in your target language. Then you could use that information with the board game to practice the sentence structure and vocabulary. Turn drills and cards into fun and games. For ages 14 and up.
This is an interesting concept game, but it is more of an educational tool than a hobby game. This game would be useful to any language teacher, whether in a formal setting or just at home, as well as language learners. This game would also be useful to anyone who travels to foreign countries on a regular basis.
It is designed well to start at a low level to help new learners, and then progress to more difficult levels as players learn. It is also designed well to have learners of different levels playing the game at the same time.
Note: The game does not teach any languages, it only provides the platform for engaging with language learning.
Setup of the game is quick and easy. Place the board where everyone can reach it. Place the Direction Cards, Mission Cards, and Conversation Cards near the board. Place the Drone (X marker), Caution Cones, Die, and Verb Count chips within reach. Each player picks a color and places their associated Meeple on their color’s starting location. The game is ready to be played.
Solo play setup is the same, with the inclusion of an Hour Tracker, and the player starts with 3 Mission cards in hand.
Directions encourages learning how to get around in a foreign location. You can start at a low level with very simple directions, but can easily progress to higher levels with more complex directions. At the highest levels more conversational language is also introduced.
The mechanic of the game is simply to draw a card, then play the card.
Direction cards present a player with a location a person wants to find. You find that location on the board and then give directions from where your Meeple is to the desired location. Each verb used in the directions allows the player’s Meeple to move 1 space toward their destination. Mission cards give the player a destination to reach within 3-5 moves. Conversation cards allow the player to discuss travel and work toward end game goals. The first player to reach their final destination, or collect enough Mission and/or Conversation cards is the winner.
What is done well:
The game provides a wide variety of locations to which directions can be given. Most people assume there are a core set of locations everyone should know, but this game extends that to many locations people like.
At higher levels the game introduces real world conditions that might affect travel or the given directions.
The game has a good progression model to help learners progress from one level to another.
What some may find issue with:
The game does not teach any language, it is mostly a tool for assisting with learning a language. Since there is no language pack associated with the game, players will either need a means of learning a language and ensuring language is used properly, or players will need someone who already knows the language to act as a guide or teacher.
The game is very American centric. Streets are laid out in American fashion. Signs are all in English, and street names are typical for an American city. The game includes a School zone and Construction areas, and they are handled in American fashion, whereas other countries/places may not have the same restrictions/conditions.
Information about the game seems to indicate the player will be asking for directions, but the game is the player giving directions. There isn’t really player interaction, so players may learn how to receive directions based on listening to another player give direction, but there isn’t really a test of comprehension.
As a person who likes language, this game would be an excellent tool for language teachers to make learning parts of a language fun for the learners. Outside of this arena, it would only be useful/fun for families who want to encourage the use of multiple languages or to study a language prior to travel. It will be interesting to see if the producers come out with variations based on other international locations. Overall a good “Language Learning Adventure.”
Players Who Like: Learning languages and education in general
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Thomas Shepherd- Reviewer
I grew up loving to solve puzzles, play games, and have fun. In my younger years I had fun playing pencil games, enjoyed the creativity of playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, and generally hanging out with others. My favorite thing to do was to make puzzles of all kinds, mazes, word games, picture games, etc.
Sadly my career took me in a different direction, solving computer problems rather than gaming problems.
Gaming came back into my life, though, in a big way about 15 years ago, and I have held onto it since. I still enjoy designing games and have 9 published titles, which I did through my own game publishing company, Toresh Games, prior to the Covid pandemic. Sadly I was not able to sustain the company through the pandemic.
I highly encourage people to play games, make friends, and have fun. As a game enthusiast, I would love to see a return to games as the best social media platform for the masses.
All of Thomas Shepherd’s reviews can be found HERE.