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Subject: D as an ongoing exercise with ESL students? rss

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Drew Heath
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Let me begin by saying I've never played Diplomacy, nor am I really familiar with the rules ... although I will be soon.

I teach Chinese university students the finer points of conversational English. Their reading & writing levels are quite high - I know they'd have no difficulties with the rules. From browsing BGG I also understand that Diplomacy is a game of serious negotiation. Would this be something that would work in a classroom setting? At my university I'm wholly free to design my curriculum so long as the students are talking.

The average class is 25~30 students, so each Diplomacy country would be a ~4 student team. Classes are 90 minutes long, once a week, for 16 weeks.

Has anyone tried using Diplomacy with ESL students as a way to add structure, theme, and goals to what can sometimes be otherwise dry speaking exercises?
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Tony Chen
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This would be awesome. Except can you overhear their negotiations? If you can't, they might just use mandarin.
 
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Drew Heath
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I roam the room at ease, a 1.95m monolith of foreign intimidation. They'd be using English.

The one problem that comes to mind is: what to do with defeated countries? Although I suppose I could just roll their members into the countries that conquered them?
 
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Gerald Todd
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There's an interesting idea buried there...

Each is power represented by a council of 2-3 players and when a power conquers the last center of another power, that council joins the conquering power's council.

Councils get credit for solos, surviving, draws, etc, so you can be on the council of a conquered power yet be part of a solo victory at game's end.

Could be a heck of a class-room variant.
 
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ɹǝsɐɹɟ
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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You should shoot this query off to Tom Vasel. Based on early episodes of The Dice Tower I remember one or both of Tom or Joe Steadman used it at the school where they taught in Korea.
 
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Greg Low
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Shad wrote:
Has anyone tried using Diplomacy with ESL students

Interesting. I am aware of Diplomacy being used in the classroom setting (communications classes), but I haven't seen it used for ESL.

If their language skills are devleoped enough it would have some value. Knowing how to say, "We don't have any plans to attack you", and "Those troops are merely stabilizing that region" aren't as useful for most ESL speakers as "Where is the bathroom?"

-Greg
 
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This is an excellent idea. A lot of Diplomacy play hinges on language: being subtle enough to convince others to trust you and being careful enough in your choice of words so that no one suspects you on the eve of a great backstab.

I'd like to read reports of this if you do it!
 
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Calavera Despierta
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Shad wrote:
Has anyone tried using Diplomacy with ESL students as a way to add structure, theme, and goals to what can sometimes be otherwise dry speaking exercises?


I run a game of Diplomacy with High School students when I teach Sun Tzu and Machiavelli. Last year I had a student from Singapore that was classified as "ESL" even though, to be honest, his reading, writing, and speaking skills were frequently superior to many of his native English-speaking peers. We played two complete games of Diplomacy with him as one of the contenders.

The challenge I had with him may have been cultural, more than language-based. He absolutely, positively refused to backstab his opponents, even when it would have won him the game. He also reacted the most negatively to being backstabbed--he took it personally and would often change his tactics in order to get revenge for imagined slights on the part of his peers. Anyhow, I am saying all of this because Diplomacy is... evil. It's part of the appeal. Something to consider with your group of students is how they will react to the underlying evil in the game.

If you're looking for a solid Negotiation style game that is not quite a vicious, I recommend Traders of Genoa.

Otherwise, Werewolf would work fantastically with ESL students, and involves role-play and bluffing even if it does not really have a negotiation element.

-M.
 
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Calavera Despierta
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SgtTodd wrote:
There's an interesting idea buried there...

Each is power represented by a council of 2-3 players and when a power conquers the last center of another power, that council joins the conquering power's council.

Councils get credit for solos, surviving, draws, etc, so you can be on the council of a conquered power yet be part of a solo victory at game's end.

Could be a heck of a class-room variant.


Have played team games where one player is Diplomat and is the only person allow to make contact with the other countries - the other the General, who is the only one allowed to write and turn it orders. It created some interesting friction when Generals would refuse alliances agreed upon by Diplomats (though in at least one of those cases, this was a ruse, allowing the Diplomat player to ameliorate the emotional impact of a backstab by blaming it on his stubborn General.)

-M.
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Keng Ho Pwee
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MScrivner wrote:
... a student from Singapore that was classified as "ESL" even though, to be honest, his reading, writing, and speaking skills were frequently superior to many of his native English-speaking peers.



Just thought I'd mention that most Singaporeans learn English as a first language and their mother tongues as a second language.
 
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Drew Heath
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Well, the order has been placed and EMS will deliver the beginning of a grand experiment to my hands in China in 4~5 working days.

I've downloaded the excellent high quality vector map in the file list and will be having it printed as a wall-poster for class use. I'm debating whether or not to also laminate it so that teams can use dry-erase markers to shade their territories as they go. That will probably ultimately be a choice made by cost rather than coolness, which is a shame. We'll see.

MScrivner wrote:
Have played team games where one player is Diplomat and is the only person allowed to make contact with the other countries - the other the General, who is the only one allowed to write and turn in orders.


I like this idea very much, and will probably incorporate it into play.

*****

Aside from preparing the materials & condensed rulesets for each team, the waiting game begins as to which classes I'm actually assigned this Fall. I'm given 7 or 8 classes a semester, but those are distributed between the English Dept. and all the other departments. Only the true English majors will be adept enough to play this game. Don't get me wrong, I've got some pretty good accountants & engineers, but the student level even within one class of non-majors varies wildly.

If I can get just one English major class, though, it'll be great I think... I'll keep yall posted.
 
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