Spaceteam ESL: Using Mobile Gaming to Develop Fluency and Listening Skills

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Many language teachers agree that one of the key challenges in the language classroom is developing fluency. Students may be hesitant to use language in a genuine way, and despite the best efforts of teachers to provide interesting activities, it can be difficult to overcome this reluctance.

This challenge was what motivated our efforts at Concordia University to develop Spaceteam ESL, a free multiplayer game for iOS/Android that focuses on developing fluency, pronunciation, and listening skills amongst learners. Based on the hit game Spaceteam (over 3.5 million downloads), Spaceteam ESL puts players in a fun situation in which they have to speak and listen to each other in order to keep their spaceship alive.

The game works like this: a group of 2-4 players call out instructions to each other to repair a malfunctioning spaceship before it explodes. Each player’s mobile device displays a random control panel and players must follow time-sensitive instructions on their screen. The challenge is that the instructions for the control panels on Player 1’s screen (for example, “Switch off book!”) are actually sent to Player 2, and vice versa, meaning that the two players must quickly shout their mixed-up instructions to each other before their ship blows up.

space esl


The gameplay is fast and furious, and players really enjoy shouting the instructions at each other. Here’s some footage from some teachers who were beta-testing the game for us.



The game’s trailer also shows you a bit about how gameplay works:



The speed and vocabulary of the game is entirely adjustable depending on the level of the learners that teachers have in the classroom, and the game includes a pronunciation practice tool for players to learn all of the game’s vocabulary words.

A complete set of game instructions and lesson plans are available for free at, and the game is available for both major mobile platforms:

We’re really excited to hear about teachers and learners using the game, so if you have any experiences, positive or negative, that you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to contact us:

David Waddington (Educational Studies)

Walcir Cardoso (Applied Linguistics)

Also, as an added incentive, if you start using the game in your language classroom and get in touch with us, we’ll send you a little bit of Spaceteam ESL swag!


See also:

Learning Languages at University: An Interview with Ed Blankenship

The Advantages of Knowing How to Read Foreign Languages

6 Strategies for Language Learning Success


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