It's coming up to the end of the school year here in Japan and a few of our long-term kids students are leaving. They tell us it's because they can no longer fit English classes into their increasingly busy schedules, but maybe it's just that I stink as a teacher!
Whatever the reason, the incontrovertible fact is that some of them are going, so as a wee last-class treat I brought out my copy of DungeonQuest today and spent the last ten minutes of each lesson letting them play.
They would all simultaneously draw a tile and move, and if a tile looked a touch dangerous I would 'oooh' and 'aaaah' a bit and get the student affected to roll a die. If they rolled lowish I would bring out a creature (World of Warcraft board game: I've never played you, but your figures make good monsters!) for them to fight, and they'd have to beat its score on opposed dice before they could continue moving.
If they came to a locked door they would need to roll to get through it; a trap and they'd need to roll to jump over it; a spider web roll to escape it, etc.
To continue the illusion of it being an English lesson I had them each make sentences describing their action each turn: "I go here!"; "I fight the monster!"; "I jump the infernal pit!"; "I swing my trusty blade and disembowel the goblin chief, spilling his entrails all over my textbook!", etc.
When they got to the treasure trove in the centre of the dungeon they had to fight the boss monster, a large green Balrog lookalike (thank you again, World of Warcraft!). After the monster was slain (and of course it always was), they would roll dice to collect treasure, and whoever got the most gold would be hailed most triumphant.
They loved it, and it reminded me again how much fun games can be, especially when you make up the rules as you go along. And you know what, it works: they chatter away using English, hardly even realising they are doing it, and end the lesson wanting more.
Sometimes - only sometimes, mind! - teaching can seem like the best job in the world.