Abstract Details

Learning Chinese With Classroom-based Multiplayer Minigames

Newby Chinese is a web-based classroom tool which teaches beginner’s Mandarin Chinese through use of interactive multimedia and a number of competitive single- and multi-player minigames. Learning sessions can vary in length from 10-60+ minutes and are led by a facilitator who is ideally (but not necessarily) competent in Chinese. The system works well with anything from 2 to 30+ students.

In this session the audience will log in on their phones and play the game together. Within 5 minutes they will be constructing their first Chinese sentences and competing in multiplayer minigames. To participate, it is recommended that audience members have Firefox or Chrome on their phone or tablet.

The core content of our system teaches students to read and write Chinese words which are provided in logical groupings. Words are introduced through short, memorable, humorous mini-stories in which the Chinese words are depicted as creatures interacting with each other, and in which the sound and intonation of the Chinese words are incorporated into the stories. The mini-story is further condensed into a micro- animation, and then whenever the word is used in the various mini-games described below, the animation and sound are repeated. The simultaneous use of story, animation and sound support each other and provides a very powerful system for memorization/recognition of word shapes and sounds.

A number of elements of the system incorporate single-player and multi-player gamification techniques, in order to maximise the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of students:

  • Word finding/tracing and sentence finding/building games, in which good performance causes a student’s avatar to run faster in a race against his/her classmates.
  • Translations (English to Chinese and Chinese to English) – each student’s work is displayed on the facilitator’s main screen, for class discussion. The teacher assigns grades to the best student work, and these best students compete in a multiplayer ‘throw the ball’ game to earn extra points.
  • Chinese handwriting – each student’s handwritten words and sentences are displayed on the facilitator’s main screen, for class discussion. The teacher assigns grades to the best student work.
  • Multiplayer ‘maze search’ game (which could be described as a mix between Pacman and musical chairs) in which students race to collect Chinese letters.

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