Forget the silver spoon in a baby’s mouth. It seems that some kids these days are born with the newest iPhone glued to their ear. Life is changing, and children are adjusting rapidly – often learning to play with cellphone apps before even attending kindergarten. The world has become increasingly technologically focused, and educators everywhere are jumping on the bandwagon, integrating electronic devices into their classroom exercises. Québec is certainly no exception – Ville Saint-Laurent’s very own Affordance Studio is proving that, with their new language game, Ready to Negotiate.
According to Affordance Studio’s website, this learning tool “teaches you how to negotiate out loud in a second language in less than 5 minutes, even if you’ve had just one language course”. The Ready to Negotiate app facilitates learning due to its simplicity and to its very nature; it is, essentially, an interactive game. Co-Founder of Affordance Studio, Avery Rueb, explains that games are a great means of stirring up conversation, while stimulating the senses – keeping learners practicing their oral and listening skills, while reducing boredom. The idea of this multiplayer classroom app is to encourage collaboration between students, teachers, and, on occasion, volunteers, fostering a sense of togetherness, while creating a fun learning environment.
The beauty of Ready to Negotiate is its adaptability. It can be straightforward enough to be understood by beginners in any given language (the app exists in multiple languages), yet can also be elaborate enough to remain useful even to advanced students. The many options with regards to the theme or subject of the negotiation (ranging from the imaginary world of buying and selling pirate ships, to real-world contexts such as renting an apartment) bring additional versatility to the game. It can be played and enjoyed by school-aged children just as well as it can be by adults.
“How does this app work?” you may rightfully ask. The concept is simple and easy to follow. After a review of pertinent vocabulary, one player (or group of players) connects to the network as a buyer, while the other becomes the seller. The buyer must secretly select five characteristics of the product for which he or she is searching out of a category-based list. If, for example, the students are negotiating for an apartment, the buyer may choose to be looking for a claw foot tub, wood floors, appliances that are provided by the landlord, etc.. The computer determines what characteristics the seller’s product has. That’s That is it for set up. Next, the players must communicate (orally), through questions, in order to explain the qualities (characteristics) that they boast, or of which they are in need. Once the students have established the similarities and differences between their apartments (to continue with the previous example), the negotiation begins. Indicated on the seller’s screen is the minimum offerhe or she can accept. Similarly, the buyer has a maximum offer he or she can afford to make on the apartment. The players must collaborate and come to an agreement on a price, without mentioning their minimum or their maximum permitted. Whoever has the lowest discrepancy between the final price and their limit wins the game.
In the beginning stages of Ready to Negotiate, a four-week study was launched at Vanier College. When giving feedback, students commented on the entertaining aspect of learning by working with peers, as well as the bonus skill acquired – learning to negotiate! A volunteer, Matthew, mentioned that “this would be good in an active learning class because, basically, you’re putting what you learned into motion”, noting that the game “actually gets people speaking French” and that in regular courses “a lot of times, people don’t participate”.
Originally Published: March 2016