Spaceteam is a multiplayer game that is played using mobile devices (phones, tablets) over Bluetooth and WiFi networks.
In a game of Spaceteam ESL, each player has his own control panel with labeled controls (see below). As a timer counts down, Player 1 will be given an instruction like this: “Pull animal!” The hard part is that the “pull animal” control panel is located on Player 2’s screen. Player 1 must shout out to Player 2, “Pull animal!” so that Player 2 can quickly do the action on her screen before Player 1’s timer runs out. Meanwhile, as all of this is going on, Player 2 is receiving timed instructions (“Switch off book!”) that must be executed by Player 1.
With up to four simultaneous players, a fun and chaotic atmosphere quickly develops in which the players desperately shout instructions to one another as their timer runs out. If they miss too many instructions, their spaceship blows up. If they manage to execute a sufficient number of instructions as a team, they are allowed to proceed to the next level.
Really fun! Here’s some footage of some ESL teachers trying out the game:
Spaceteam ESL can get pretty fast-paced at times, and teachers may want students to practice their pronunciation and listening outside the space of the game. The Practice feature of the game allows students to listen to the words in each level and to try pronouncing each word themselves.
Spaceteam ESL works best for low intermediate to advanced English learners who already have some capacity to read and pronounce English words, and to understand aural instructions. The game has several different speeds that it can be set to depending on the learner’s comfort with English and/or the game context.
Spaceteam ESL works best over WiFi networks, but it does not work well over all WiFi networks. Some networks in schools and universities do not allow the kinds of networking that the game needs. Before asking your students to use WiFi to play the game, it’s a good idea to run a test first to see if this option will work in your classroom.
In the event that WiFi does not work well, you can get your students to connect to each other using Bluetooth connections. This does not always work as perfectly as using WiFi, but it generally works reasonably well.
An even better solution, however, is to use a wireless router you bring from home to allow students to connect to the game. Just set up the router to have no password, and plug the router into the wall. You don’t need to connect the router to the internet, as the students are only connecting their own devices to each other through the router. Make sure to test this solution yourself before trying it with your students.