I have had the honour of being invited to participate in an action research program for teacher of English as a foreign language using Minecraft in language teaching settings. We had our first live session today after 15 days of asynchronous interaction. From today’s session I really understood how you can see utilise Minecraft for teaching English in an immersive environment for second language acquisition. I realise it is generally accepted that immersive environments are great for fluent speakers of English that can interact in English at least a pre-intermediate level. The question still remains, What happens to our learners who are at a lower level than that?
This is where we need to have detailed guided lesson plans with clear instructions and also the teacher needs to map language that students can use to interact (yet, we could do that with students in a pre-session too?). From the live session, I understood that the planning stage is where teachers need to give emphasis before endeavouring into using Minecraft as a teaching medium. Without a well thought out plan, language mapping, detailed in-game plan and preparation stage, Minecraft for beginner language learners will not have the desired language learning outcomes. The idea behind designing lesson plans having Minecraft as the teaching medium is to first think about what it is you want your students to gain from their interaction in this immersive environment. By this, thinking out exactly what you want your students to do in Minecraft will be connected to something you want your students to understand, know and be able to do from your course curriculum. After this, as was mentioned, you should then start to think about mapping out useful language and sentence frames you want your students to know and be able to use in the context of your Minecraft lesson, to interact and build discourse. From there on you can set the learning goals of the task you will create in Minecraft. The two final stages which were mentioned is to think of the where and the how of the learning inside the Minecraft setting and then finally to prepare the area and the props of your lesson.
To me, these steps seem logical and should be taken into consideration if you want to have a well thought out lesson which will probably lead the way to an engaging and meaningful interaction between students.