The Play of Language

Thinking about how the DigiBahn game could eventually be used in a language classroom has led me back to thinking about language itself, specifically its “play-like” nature: We can “play” with meaning of words and even entire games focus on using language in playful contexts. Seen within a communicative framework in real-life settings, language and speech acts still retain a sense of play. I recall that, the first time I was in Germany I tried so very hard to sound and look like a native: I noticed verbal ticks, particular ways of holding the body while speaking, and particular turns of phrase that the natives used and I “played” with numerous ways of incorporating these observations in my own speech performance. Like games, language is also characterized by systems: Not only linguistic systems but also sociocultural ones as well that influence the final form that the speech act takes. So, I have got language, games, and systems running through my mind and I think that there is something to this topic that will have more of an influence on the DigiBahn Project.

To explore this topic in more depth, Ive decided to create a class around it:

Essentially, it is simply an advanced conversation course that I will be tricking out to make it more interesting and fun for the students, but perhaps I will also learn something from it as well. Chances are, I probably will. A complete course syllabus in PDF format can be found on my professional website in the “Teaching” section.

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