“People learn best through personal experience,
through practical hands-on work
with real-world tasks.”
The idea to create a language-learning game arose from a need for the environment where learners could practice everyday English. I have been learning and teaching languages my entire life and I have always strived for meaningful interaction in the classroom. I couldn't help but notice that my students learned more from our casual exchanges between the lessons than during the actual class. Recreating this model of spontaneous, demand-based learning inside the classroom turned out to be quite a challenge. One of the obstacles was limited support for interactive situated learning in existing teaching materials. The majority of commercially available textbooks resemble "thinly disguised variants of drill and kill" (Long, 2015), rather than real-world communication.
At some point, I realized that a game, not a textbook, is an ideal tool for language learning: students are engaged in authentic communication while attending to linguistic problems in context. I first began experimenting with various board games (Monopoly, Viticulture, The Clue, etc.). However, all of them recreate fantasy worlds, and my students needed to learn how to participate in language activities of the daily life.
At last, I rolled my sleeves and put together a first clunky version of LinguaPolis. No, it was not aesthetically pleasing, yet, it allowed my students to experience what it means to deal with a real communicative task - this alone worked wonders. I started dreaming of giving my game a proper shape... Back then, I could not even imagine that my friend and a wonderful illustrator, Stas Kapustin, would give it more than just a beautiful cover - a lively vibrant soul. Stas created Max, our first LinguaPolis citizen and a cheerful traveler who conquers New York City thanks to his wits and a sense of humor. Once we had Max, we fell in love with LinguaPolis and could not resist sharing it with the world.