Tag Archives: learning

On role plays: why on earth should I go to buy bread now?

We all language teachers use role play in the attempt to bring reality in the artificial environment of the class.

The result, let’s admit it, it’s not very satisfactory, above all when we try to reproduce in class everyday situations (like going to buy bread or opening an account in a bank).

Students feels it as artificial, and end up repeating the same sentence they have in the book or.. in the best of the cases, transforming it into an absurd situation.

Add to this that you cannot ask your students to buy bread over and over… and you will see the limit of the classical role play we use in class. You do it once. Over, finished. There is no possibility to repeat it, as we would do in our everyday life. (I do not know you, but usually buy bread more than once a week.)

So we teachers arrive in Second Life and we say “wow!”. We are not anymore inside the 4 walls in the class, we can move around, visualize things that look more or less real, even touch …. well… click on them! The perfect place to make role play work!

But is it really true? Do role play work much better in SL than in RL? And if they don’t, why they don’t?

Let’s see an example, a classical one: reservation and check in in an hotel.

I prepared it for the italianiamo group, and I will write here or my personal experience.

I built the hotel. Of course, to make it more fun and to offer more occasion to speak, I made a very strange hotel. The prices for the room were not excessively expensive for a 4 stars hotel, but the wifi cost an harm and a leg. The rooms… were … well… let’s describe them.

Room 1: shower and wc in the middle of the room. Blood stain on one of the pillow

Room 2: television set on fire. Someone was sleeping on the couch

Room 3: the bed had only 3 legs and no blankets. Someone left a “little present” in the wc.

Room 4: dirty water in the bath and merry cockroaches in the room.

I mean.. I usually go to cheap hotel, the only things I do not tolerate are bedbugs, being robbed in the corridors and large roaches, but I’ve never seen in my whole life rooms like those.

Let’s go back to our role play:

We decided to go on holiday together, called the hotel to ask information and book the rooms, arrived there and… a disaster.

The Italianiamo participants did not complain about the wifi abusive price. Well.. fine. May be on holiday they want to forget about the internet.

Then they went to their rooms… and I was waiting for enraged cries coming from the rooms… and see them dashing to the reception to complain.

Nothing. Nothing at all, no reaction.

I had to stop playing the receptionist, start playing the “teacher” and prompt them with silly questions like: did you notice that there is a wc where you should have a night table? Is it ok for you?  Do you think that you should go and complain at the reception?

So, where was the problem? Were the italianiamo participants all dumb? Were they used to 4 stars hotels with blood stained blankets and peculiar hygiene?

Or may be they did not mind.. because they actually did not have to sleep in those rooms? And did not have to pay with their money for them? That is: they did not believe in “the hotel”, it was not real to them.

Second life did not add much to “the class” them, we were facing the same problem: the lack of identification in their roles and the rather “artificiality” of the whole activity.


photo from pionia blog


Let’s imagine now that those same people take part in a Role Play Game. They created their character and have to act according to it. They are part of a larger story in which they develop relationship with others player, and their characters grow and develop in time along the story. They have purposes and aims in their life, and they will be involved in events and little everyday stories that are part of the larger story of that town, village or place.

  • They know if their character is a posh lady, an easy going adventurer or a young and naive girl. And they know that they have to act accordingly to their character.
  • Even if the game has not a “money system” for transaction inside the role play sim, they know their economic situation, and the value they give to money.
  • They know why they are going to the hotel, and the need comes from them, not from the teacher.  May be they have to go to another village to look for a person or an object. Or may be this is their honeymoon, or they want to hide from someone.

Thus, going to the hotel, will make sense to them. It’s not anymore a language exercise. It is something the story requires. It’s not as if someone would come up to me now and tell me “go and buy bread” so you can practice your Catalan.  It’s as if now I stand up, go to the kitchen to prepare some breakfast, see that I do not have any bread left and decide to go and buy it (or not. May be I decide to have some yoghurt or biscuits instead).

All this “background” will help them to take their decisions about their reactions. May be if they need to hide, they will not go to the reception to complain about their 3-legged bed with no blankets, because they try to pass unnoticed while the couple on honeymoon might have their first quarrel and then decide to leave the hotel altogether. The posh lady will make a big fuss about the roaches in her room. The easy going adventurer might wake up the sleeping guy and invite him to a glass of scotch and a cigar (lighting it with the flames coming from the TV set).

In role play games you do not perform a task. You are free to decide what to do and are guided in your choice by many internal and external factors. That’s why what you do and what you say sounds “real” and makes sense to you, because it really mirrors the way we do things in our real life: taking decisions and behaving accordingly.

And…more important from the language point of view, we can repeat the “hotel thing” more times, and we never feel that we are repeating it, because every time the situation and what brings us to the hotel will be different.

In the months I’ve been roleplaying, I introduced myself to countless people, ordered countless time food and drink at the local tavern, went many time to the doctor, quarrelled, bargained, asked information and directions and even got robbed once.

And each time was real, each time made sense, each time I was completely, totally immersed in the story and struggled with the language to say what I really wanted to say. But about the language in role play I will write in my next post.



Filed under role play, Second Life

Let me introduce to you Anna, the role player

I started to be interested in Role Play in SL some years ago. I spent a whole summer exploring Sims and reading notecards, then joined an Italian one. It was summer… there was very little going around and few people to ask advice, and I admit I felt quite lost. The Sim closed in autumn. End of story.
After that, I forgot about it till this autumn, when Pionia Destiny lured me, with my enthusiastic consent, to Artstonia.

I liked the Land, a sort of medieval village:

  • It’s a one-Sim-Land. Smaller lands are better in my opinion: it’s easier to meet people and thus to integrate faster in the community.
  • Role Play is not centred on fighting, there is a lot of everyday role-play, small little stories going on.
  • Action is not always GM* lead. Most of the time a sort of input is thrown out there and then everybody contributes to the story to go on.
  • It’s well organised: they give you classes to understand and learn to role-play, but at the same time is relaxed.
  • You do not find around people not role-playing, a thing that I observed in other Sims and that I founded very disruptive
  • There are some great roleplayers,  and some are also great “integrators”, people who naturally, instintivelly help you to integrate in a community (thanks, Alexius and sir Edge).

Therefore I decided to stay and to give it a try. So… first of all, role play classes and creation of a character. This, the creation of the character, may be the most difficult, the most useful, and the most interesting part of the rpg**. In short, you sit down with a piece of paper in front of you and ask yourself: who am I and who I want to be. And write down a story of your life, explaining, with facts, why your character is  the way she is.
Now, you can understand that it’s rather intimidating, and in this short time I’ve been role-playing I’ve seen more than one giving up at this stage.

My little advice is to start form the avatar. Create it. Don’t buy a ready made one, make it, make the body yourself, look for a skin that fits on that body, looks for hair that fit the skin and the body, then look it in his/her eyes and ask him/her what he/she wants to be. You will get a rough idea, only then, dress him/her.

Now I see already many of you turning up your nose at the idea of being someone else. Well – and this is a personal opinion- I find rather absurd people who want to be themselves in SL, who make the avatar “look just like them” or even want to have their “real” name in Second Life. I personally prefer to explore my many selves, and to observes how avatars with different aspect influence my behaviour and that of other people. I like to play with identities, and I like to observe how I develop a bond, a sort of affection to this or that of my avatars, while others let me rather cold.

To be “other” gives you more freedom. We language teachers use this trick sometimes in class, above all in discussion about conflictive topics.  We divide the class in two groups, one in favour and the other against something, give our students time to decide who they are and ask them to think as well about the reasons of their stand. Usually people react a bit negatively when first asked to do it, but then enjoy a lot the dynamic of the game, find themselves participating more, and  the discussion heats up. In the end we all laugh and are still friends, although we might have quarrelled quite harshily in the “game”.

The same th9ng happens here. To be “another” helps you to put a filter between your real self (or should I say your real selves?) and what is happening to your character and to remind you that’s a game. Because, for a game to be fun, there has to be conflicts, there has to be evil characters, there has to be tension and dramatic events. I mean, if we all are constantly nice to each other… what a bore!

As you play, and observe you to play, however, you will be surprised to see how much of you there is actually inside your character, and it’s interesting to watch you from the outside. For instance, I discovered that I’m rather chatty… who wuold have ever thought it!

Anna-the-roleplayer is between 17 and 20, she is uneducated, naive, fearful and trustful. She is a little animal, very natural, curious and impulsive.

*GM: Game Master, person who are somehow responsible of the Sim and that sometimes creates storylines involving all the roleplayers.
** rpg: role play game

Wants to know more? Here you will find a very instructive post.



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Filed under learning, role play, Second Life

add a dimension to your learning.. with a good friend

In October 2010 Karelia Kondor and I prepared a presenation for the 3rd Virtual Roundtable Conference.

For me it was a real pleasure to be able to collaborate with Karelia: we met in Edunation thanks to Carol and became real friends by now. And I love to work with people: I like the energy that is produced and the learning and teaching that is taking place. In this case, I was the one who learned more, and I have to thanks Karelia to offer me this opportunity.

Since the conference was not on SL and then probably our “pubblic” was mostly new to Virtual Words, we decided to give an overview of what can teachers do in Second Life and to explain it from the point of view of  our personal experience.

It was nice and reassuring as well to have Gizmo, Pionia and many other friends among the attendats, and to be able to rely on the wonderful organisation of Gwen.

Here are the slides, since we had a little problem with them and were not able to show them all.

For more information:

the recording: http://www.virtual-round-table.com/profiles/blogs/add-a-dimension-to-your

Karelia page: http://www.all-london.org.uk/second_life.htm


introduction (video)

Italian Art: Gallery of the italian creativity: dynamics painting  and sculpture by Gleman Jun.
Sculpture: Both myself by Gleman Jun
Avalon Learning

For information on the project:

Slanguages 2010

sharing resources (slide)

International School
One of the many places where you can find free resources for teaching in SL.
English at Cypris Chat (slide)

Virtlantis (slide)

Goethe Institut (slide)

Teleportnovela (slide)

Italianiamo (slide)

Games (videos)
Role play (video)

Artstonia (role play sim)
Chatlog: example of role play interaction
[2010/09/29 23:50]  gadget Cyberstar: greetings, anna
[2010/09/29 23:50]  anna Begonia: greetings
[2010/09/29 23:51]  Relm Foxdale: Greetings
[2010/09/29 23:52]  anna Begonia: greetings
[2010/09/29 23:52]  Whrek Nirvana: Eya Girly
[2010/09/29 23:52]  gadget Cyberstar: ooh goodie, the rat is here
[2010/09/29 23:52]  Whrek Nirvana: shut up
[2010/09/29 23:52]  gadget Cyberstar: and why would i do that?
[2010/09/29 23:53]  Whrek Nirvana: you’ve got shit spewwin out yur gums
[2010/09/29 23:53]  Whrek Nirvana: I’m sure relm doesn’t appreciate getting covered in it
[2010/09/29 23:59]  anna Begonia: *approaches Whreck, looks at his skin*
[2010/09/29 23:59]  anna Begonia: Sir, do you paint it every day? It would take long. How many hours?
[2010/09/30 00:00]  anna Begonia: do someone help you?
[2010/09/30 00:00]  Whrek Nirvana cocks his foot to the side and sweeps his tail around it, standing up tall in front of her, “Wha, You aint meanin ta tell me you aint never seen a tatoo before girly, THis down come off, its burned on my flesh”
[2010/09/30 00:00]  Relm Foxdale suddenly chuckles. “You have longer hair than me.”
[2010/09/30 00:01]  gadget Cyberstar: aye, frieking wood elfs, they dun know how ta cut hair
[2010/09/30 00:01]  anna Begonia: Oh, my god! burned! it has to be very painful! Why did they do it to you? *with a shrill in ther voice*
[2010/09/30 00:01]  Relm Foxdale grabs his ponytail playfully
[2010/09/30 00:01]  gadget Cyberstar: hey! no pulling!
[2010/09/30 00:01]  Relm Foxdale laughs
[2010/09/30 00:01]  gadget Cyberstar: pull my hair, i steal an ear
[2010/09/30 00:02]  Relm Foxdale: You wouldn’t dare
[2010/09/30 00:02]  gadget Cyberstar: try me
[2010/09/30 00:02]  Relm Foxdale frowns
[2010/09/30 00:02]  Relm Foxdale: Nah
[2010/09/30 00:02]  Whrek Nirvana holds his hand up and traces down his arms, “Traders and brands, each of these was given to me when I was slave to one or another, the Ravinica guild added the roses every time, or was it gruuls
[2010/09/30 00:02]  gadget Cyberstar: tatoos dun hurt, actually
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: well, much
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Whrek Nirvana: they do when theyre seared
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: yeah
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Relm Foxdale: Not very much, no
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: i said much
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Relm Foxdale: Depends where they are
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Whrek Nirvana: take a hot Iron, dip it in ink, then brand the flesh
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: well, ye stop feeling much after a whyle
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Relm Foxdale smirks. “You’ve never seen mine, Gadget.”
[2010/09/30 00:03]  anna Begonia: you were a slave? *goes nearer to Whreck* how can be that you were takein slave? You are so strong *smiles half shyly half mockingly* why did you not defend yourself?
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: did nay know ye had one
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Relm Foxdale: But then I keep it hidden, for good reason
[2010/09/30 00:04]  Relm Foxdale: When i was with those…people
[2010/09/30 00:04]  gadget Cyberstar: ah
[2010/09/30 00:04]  Whrek Nirvana: I was a boy when I was taken at as a slave, and even now not much I can do to a camp of slavers ta stop em, though I’ve slipt outta theyre grips a few times as of late
[2010/09/30 00:05]  gadget Cyberstar: ye just gotta learn how ta fight right
[2010/09/30 00:05]  anna Begonia: I was told that there are raids sometimes in the village, they catch people, children or girls. Are they slavers?
[2010/09/30 00:05]  gadget Cyberstar: mostly just monsters
[2010/09/30 00:06]  Whrek Nirvana: Wouldnt doubt it, Sparten raiders are pretty notorious fer taken breedin stock, women and girls, athenians well take workers of men
[2010/09/30 00:06]  Relm Foxdale: Well, Gadget, I need to go to bed…it’s been a long day, traveling to Flotsam and back
[2010/09/30 00:06]  gadget Cyberstar: *frowns* alright
[2010/09/30 00:06]  anna Begonia: ah…. other mostners, not the one you have in the village, i guess
[2010/09/30 00:06]  Relm Foxdale: But thanks for dancing with me *smiles*
[2010/09/30 00:06]  gadget Cyberstar: goodnight, relm
[2010/09/30 00:06]  Relm Foxdale: Night
[2010/09/30 00:06]  anna Begonia: good Night lady
The real Virtual World
art gallery (slide)

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Filed under education, presentation, Second Life

It’s time for me to sit on the other side

There are two kind of people in the world: normal people and teacher and students. For normal people the year starts on the 1st of January. For teachers and students it starts on the 1st of September.

And you know: new year, new promises and proposals (and new quitting smoking, collecting princesses’ and queens’ needles and learning languages adds on TV).

September is approaching and Anna Begonia is reflection on what she did, what she does, and what she wants to do. And she feels that she needs to take a break from sitting on the teacher -well, she does not like the word, let’s say facilitator- chair and would really like to sit again on the learner chair.

She wants to have time to experience learning, in all its form: from learning to fight like a ninja with Karelia Kondor, to brush up her German with Gwen Gwasi, to try to improve her English with Professor Merryman, to learn at last to use an holodeck, pupetree and all these stuff she keeps unused in her inventory. And to carry on at last her Mystery House project (what’s it? Aha, a mystery 😛 )

She feels not guilty towards the Italianiamo participants thanks to Misy Ferraris, who will start soon her Italian classes in SL.

Her RL counterpart too is not possessive with her students: she tends to avoid having the same class more than one year in a row. They have to change teacher, listen to other pronunciation, experiment other teaching styles and personalities. And, let’s admit it: all of us have our manias, strong and week points. All of us teach better something and less well other thing and insist more on this or on that. So, changing is good.

And changing for us teachers (opss, sorry Anna, facilitators) is good too. And changing prospective, sitting on the other side, is very, very important.


Filed under education, Second Life

It’s Worth Taking a Look at this Blog

I discovered this initiative through Marisa Constantine, who kindly added my blog to her list (I’m fell really honoured 🙂 ). It’s a good idea to know new blogs and to peek at what other people follow (admit it, we all are a bit nosy).

So here is my list.. but first the instructions:

The chosen blog has to copy the picture on the left, with a link to the blog from which it has received the award . Then write ten more links to the blogs which you think are well worth a visit. They in turn if they would like to, of course, copy the image above and link to 10 blogs, which shouldn’t be the ones I have chosen below. I was linked into this project by Marisa Constantinides and I would like to thank herfor including my little blog in this interesting initiative.

Here is Marisa’s list of favorities blog (and I discovered that we share some of our favourites blogs (which I will not repeat here)  and found others woth reading)

Here goes my list of blogs I find interesting or useful (all jumbled):

  1. http://italiaeoisagunt.blogspot.com/
  2. http://www.maestroalberto.it/
  3. http://www.dreig.eu/caparazon/
  4. http://dusanwriter.com/
  5. http://theelearningcoach.com/
  6. http://marisaconstantinides.edublogs.org/
  7. http://italiannewsclicks.blogspot.com/
  8. http://www.massively.com/bloggers/tateru-nino/
  9. http://enricserrabloc.blogspot.com/
  10. http://www.plurale.net/

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Filed under blogs, education

On places and people

Lately I was interviewed by two of Cvetka‘s students. It’s becoming a tradition by now, and one I enjoy. Let’s say it, to be interviewed, even if  by a student, always make you feel a bit… a bit more interesting than what you really are. :))

The second of my interviewed asked me to bring her to 3 different places I like or find interesting in SL.

[…………………………….. long, embarrassed and embarrassing silence………………………].

Hem hem, I have to confess it: I do not travel too much in SL. Ok, when I read (mostly on SLED) or are told of some new interesting location, I usually go and have a (often quick) look. But lest say it: to jump from one point to the other of the grid after a while is… boring. It’s like being on holiday: everybody likes to do sightseeing, but after a week of churches, museums, monuments and walks in picturesque neighbourhoods, we all would like to have something better to do.

The places I like most are… the places where I do something interesting or where I meet interesting people. And what I like most is making interesting things with interesting people, without caring about the surroundings landscape (whose feature I appreciate  most is: low lag).

I enjoy the Edunation community and love its sandbox (a sort of meeting point for all its residents), I like to meet with the members of Slexperiment, I love to get involved with the versatile Pyramid group and to participate in their many events (the last of with, a conference with Mario Gerosa on the 14th of  December 2009), or to keep in touch with my ex-schoolmates (he he… this word make me feel so young!) of the Muvenation course and to share opinions and help each other. And I enjoy building, learning, having concrete, tangible projects with other people I like and admire.

Therefore, I brought the student who asked me about interesting places to the Second Life Italia community land, where she can meet Italians and chat with them, and to the Indire sandbox, where …. she can meet Italians and chat with them.

I do not know why, I had the impression that she was not very impressed by it… but she is young, she will learn 😉

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Filed under education, Second Life

testing builder buddy

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Filed under Muvenation, mvn08, Second Life