The Merits of Using “EthnoQuest” as an English Language Learning Tool and a Medium of Cultural Transmission
Keywords:EthnoQuest, cultural anthropology, simulations, ethnographic fieldwork
This paper will focus on the experience of using the game 'EthnoQuest' as part of a content-based course at a small private university in Japan. 'EthnoQuest' is an interactive multimedia simulation for cultural anthropology fieldwork, and students enter the virtual environs of Amopan, a small Mexican village. The game is text based and two-dimensional and by comparison does not have any of the high quality graphics or adventure stimulating challenges of a commercial game. Nevertheless, I felt it was extremely beneficial to students taking ethnographic fieldwork courses as it opened up the field in a very accessible way. Two groups of students will be discussed; one group of students had very limited abilities in English and were very conscious of this fact. The second group, had advanced English skills and were able to use the simulations as a
stepping stone to fruitful discussions about topics such as bilingualism and cultural and religious beliefs. Students with lower levels of English were able to interact with villagers at their own pace creating a comfortable and safe study environment from which to improve their English skills and enhance their knowledge of a different culture. Four simulations from the game will be analysed for their language building skills and cultural content. Finally, student feedback and problems with the software will be discussed.
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