“We do have a lot in common. The same air, the same Earth, the same sky. Maybe if we started looking at what's the same instead of always looking at what's different…well, who knows?"
Have you heard about the latest craze of people playing Pokémon GO on their iOS and Android devices? Gamers pretend to be trainers who try to capture the Pokémon that surround them. The game uses augmented reality to show Pokémon at various locations around the physical world. The famous game is based on the popular Pokémon game and animated series from the 1990s. The app is currently limited to only a few countries, but will be available soon in more countries. During the summer, your language learners can enjoy playing the game and practicing their English with the ideas and activities shared below.
The app allows users to practice basic tasks in English. Learners can sign up with a Google account or join the Pokémon Trainer Club for free. When they sign up as a trainer, they are asked to enter their date of birth, country, a username, password, and email address. When they verify their email, they receive tokens. If playing with young learners who don't have email accounts, adults can add children to their trainer account. Once a trainer account is verified, learners can edit their profiles, add a motto, and log on to the game via a mobile device.
Try ESL Library's ready-made Discussion Starters lesson on The "Pokemon GO" Phenomenon.
Introducing the Game
Some of your learners have played Pokémon before and can help other language learners in your class understand the basics. Below are a list of resources to help you introduce the basic vocabulary, characters, and premise of the game:
- The Beginner’s Guide: How to Play Pokémon GO explains everything you need to know about the game
- Infographic that explains the 17 different categories of Pokémon and some interesting facts
- A list of the Pokémon with an image and information about each character
- The History of Pokémon
Game Introduction as a Reading
Gamers begin by reading a short introduction of the game’s purpose. Take a screenshot of the introduction and make it a class reading where you have a list of vocabulary or phrases to learn.
Create and Share Your Trainer Avatar
Learners create the trainer’s avatar. Have learners list or discuss with their peers the trainer’s face shape, hair style and color, eye color, cap, top, bottoms, shoes, and backpack. They will practice vocabulary associated with parts of the body, clothing, and characteristics.
Characteristics of a Good Pokémon Trainer
The game involves role-playing. Learners act as trainers who capture and train the Pokémon to battle each other. Get learners to create a digital poster, presentation, comic, or video of what makes a good trainer. You should do this after they have played the game a few times.
Share Your Favorite Pokémon
Give learners time to research the Pokémon list. Your students can then create presentations or digital posters about their top three favorite Pokémon. The learners don’t have to include everything they discover but should include an image, the type, some data, a few statistics, the types of defenses and the evolution of the Pokémon. They want to include information that will help them be better players for the Pokémon Go game.
Guess the Pokémon
Once your learners share their favorite three Pokémon, get them to play a guessing game in small groups where each guesses the Pokémon based on a list of physical characteristics, traits, and facts. Learners write down on an index card the name of the Pokémon with a list of five facts and a drawing. These index cards go in a stack. One learner draws a card and describes the Pokémon based on appearance and also can share the five facts on the card. Allow learners to use the 'sounds like' option if it is too difficult. The other group members try to guess the Pokémon. Another option is to use a timer and divide the groups into two teams playing against each other.
Pokémon GO Player Good Practices
The game starts with warnings for players to be alert and aware of their surroundings. Complaints have already been made about trainers playing at funerals or historical sites where playing a game is considered insensitive. Gamers have also been acting dangerously in the streets. Ask your learners to work in pairs or small groups and come up with a list of five to ten safety tips and good practices for players. Some ideas include having an non-playing adult present, not playing in the streets, practicing good judgment, and exhibiting good manners. Groups can create presentations, comics, or videos featuring these tips.
Once your learners play the game, have them write a digital story of their experiences battling or capturing a Pokémon. Learners can describe the location, the obstacles, and other details. Have them read their stories aloud in pairs to add a speaking component. Recommended digital storytelling tools include Little Bird Tales (web/iOS app), Toondoo, Puppet Pals HD (iOS app), Book Creator (iOS/Android app), and EduBuncee (web/iOS app).
What other games do your language learners enjoy playing on their mobile devices?