But what most of us do have access to (unless you’re reading these words through the power of your mind alone, in which case you clearly have no need of such devices) is a computer. Through the internet, we can acquire more information than was ever possible even a couple of decades ago. We can watch videos, chat, shop, share information, ask questions and give advice. We also can play video games.
Using Minecraft, the ludicrously successful sandbox game that fosters an environment of exploration, creativity and communication, James has built a virtual campus of sorts, called Kotoba Miners, which is filled with classrooms that present increasingly difficult Japanese lessons.
There are even practical assignments in Kotoba Miners which require players to go out into the virtual world to complete tasks – tasks which are given to them in Japanese and introduce new grammar and vocabulary. By completing these activities – some of which are potentially perilous to one’s avatar – players are cementing concepts and new words into their minds. When you’re told to mitsukete (find) enough objects, for example, you quickly remember not just the names of the things you had to locate, but the verb for “find” itself and how it’s conjugated in a number of contexts. It is an entirely organic learning process. And it’s fun, too.
“All of our classes are based on practical, real-world activities that build on one another from week to week. Start by describing the colour of other students clothes, talk about your family and friends, progress onto group role-plays, and end in a 100% Japanese only environment speaking with Japanese natives.“ See? And you thought Minecraft was only useful for replicating moments from Disney movies.
(Rocket News 24)