Tiny Hearts - Building Imagined Communities through a Classroom Role-playing Game

Session Title:

Tiny Hearts - Building Imagined Communities through a Classroom Role-playing Game


Your Name:

Daniel Brown


Work Title:

English Instructor


School or Organization Name:

Sogang University, Foreign Language Education Center


Area of the World from Which You Will Present:

South Korea


Language in Which You Will Present:



Target Audience(s):

Young Learners


Short Session Description (one line):

This presentation will look at how to implement the Tiny Hearts EFL classroom role-playing game into your learning environment.


Full Session Description (as long as you would like):

It has been argued that language learning is an interplay between the cognitive and the social (e.g., Atkinson, 2002), and that using language in socially meaningful ways is key to L2 development (Sykes & Reinhardt, 2012).  In addition, the notions of investment and identity in imagined communities (e.g., Norton & Toohey, 2011) posit that learners have various and shifting desires to engage in classroom practices. Therefore, structuring a classroom into a dynamic negotiated community in which social power is evenly distributed and identities are free to explore could offer beneficial effects on L2 acquisition. From these theoretical backgrounds, this presentation will introduce Tiny Hearts, a classroom role-playing game.


In Tiny Hearts, young learners assume the identities of sentient toys earning hearts as they interact with each other and the imagined environment. Working together, students role-play through missions. Each mission can either end favorably or take a wrong turn. Individualized characters, unscripted storylines, dangerous and dramatic situations, as well as unpredictable mission results mean that every lesson is a unique and engaging experience for both the teacher and students.


In this session, I will first introduce classroom role-playing games and compare how they are different from other activities. Referring to a sample chapter created for an EVO session earlier this year, I will then describe how the game is implemented by scaffolding it over the course of several lessons, such that students can succeed each time without it seeming complicated.


Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:



URL to a Slides or a Video Showcasing Your Presentation Skills:

Presentation slides for KOTESOL 2014 National Conference:  http://bit.ly/1jZQHuO

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