15 ways you could use Pokémon Go to teach English

15 ways you could use Pokémon Go to teach English
Image: Flickr/Yoshikazu Takada/Creative Commons

Following on from the interest in our article 'Can we use Pokémon Go for English teaching?' here are 15 different ways that you could use Pokémon Go to teach English:

1) Get your students to write a set of instructions on how to play Pokémon Go

This will help teach your English students about the use of the imperative form of the verb when giving instructions as well as the type of vocabulary that is required to do so.

2) Practice counting and numbers

There is a significant use of numbers in Pokémon Go, ranging from a Pokémon’s power, their weight and height and the items that you collect in your Pokémon inventory, all of which can be useful when teaching numbers in English. For younger learners you can also use worksheets to get them to count and add up by looking at the number of Pokémon on a page or by doing similar exercises.

3) Sing the Pokémon theme song!

If you can get your students to sing and remember a catchy song it can help make the English within it much more accessible. Once they know the lyrics you can focus on the meaning and the grammar behind the words and it can be great fun too!

4) Use the game to help teach giving and receiving directions in English

Playing Pokémon Go is all about navigation. The game involves using an in-game map and walking around the streets to find and catch Pokémon, which is a great opportunity for students to practice asking for and giving directions in English. If you have a small group of students you can appoint a group leader every 5 minutes and get them to give directions to the rest of the group or get individual students to ask members of the public for directions if this is suitable.

5) Get your students to write descriptions of the Pokémon they catch

Pokémon come in different shapes, sizes and colours and all have unique names. For students who are starting to learn colours and basic adjectives this is ideal. When your students come across a Pokémon you can get them to write a description and/or describe it to you and the other students. If your group is particularly knowledgeable about Pokémon you may even be able to play a guessing game where one student describes the Pokémon’s key features and the other students have to guess which Pokémon it is.

6) Make use of Pokestops to learn English place names

These are virtually located in the Pokémon Go game at select places near you and are where players can freely collect items used in the game. What makes them interesting is that they are often found at significant public places such as important buildings, parks or historical sites, which all provide a good base for useful English vocabulary that can be incorporated into the exercise, particularly when writing a diary.

7) Have your students write a diary about playing Pokémon Go

Students can write about where they went and what Pokémon they found there whilst playing Pokémon Go. For older students this can also be utilised for homework by sending them out after class to find Pokémon. You can then have them report back in the next lesson on what Pokémon they caught by describing the Pokémon and getting the rest of the class to play the guessing game.

8) Do a Pokémon treasure hunt

If you don’t want to use the Pokémon Go app or if not all of your students have access to a mobile phone, you can make cut-outs of Pokémon and hide them at your chosen location and get your students to find them. Once your students have found them you can get them to describe the Pokémon they found to you or again play the guessing game, possibly even with a reward at the end for your students if appropriate!  If you want to try this you’ll find some good cut-outs of Pokémon over at ESL Printables.

9) Imagine and create your own Pokémon

When your students have learnt sufficient English adjectives to describe existing Pokémon you can get them to imagine and create their own Pokémon along with a written description of what its special powers would be. There are a number of cases where it has been shown that using imagination is particularly important for a child’s learning and development, so this could be a good way to tap into this.

10) Get your students to write a fact file on their favourite Pokémon

This ties in with getting your students to describe Pokémon and is another useful skill for any students who might end up working or studying in an English speaking environment where they have to do research and/or produce fact file like reports on a subject, company or process.

11) Illustrate the differences between regular and irregular verbs

The five key verbs that you’ll see used by Pokémon Go players are to find, locate, catch, battle and train. These verbs can be drilled in class to help your English students understand their use along with the key differences between these types of verbs, and they can then be practiced whilst out looking for Pokémon. There is obviously a wealth of possibilities when it comes to teaching verbs and this is just one idea.

12) Introduce the Present Perfect tense

Here’s another idea! If you listen to people playing the game you will often hear them ask ‘What Pokémon have you caught?’ or ‘Where have you been to look for Pokémon?’ This is a great way to get students to start using ‘I have caught’ or ‘I have been’ in order to introduce the Present Perfect.

13) Hold a class debate

Some people will like Pokémon Go and others will not, so is it a good game to play and could it have any benefits or other uses? Have students split into two groups and argue for and against this point. You can use related news articles about Pokémon Go and drill any necessary vocabulary beforehand. This would be a good exercise for more advanced students, as would the other ideas below.

14) Write a review of the game

Get your students to look at existing reviews of Pokémon Go on Google Play and then write their own review in English using similar words or any other vocabulary that you may have taught them for the exercise.

15) Advanced English lessons

Pokémon Go is a global phenomenon and has got people all over the world talking about it. This makes it an interesting subject matter that can be used to examine and discuss a number of topics including the health benefits of playing Pokémon Go, the risks associated with the game, societal trends and the future of augmented reality. These topics all provide excellent scope to practice more advanced English vocabulary and can be utilised in a number of different ways.

Let us know if you have any more ideas of your own in the comments and thank you for reading!

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