I was on the Internet today, looking to see if they had any new information about the release date for Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I’m pretty sure that this game is being delayed again, as the Zelda team is now putting all their energy into making Ocarina of Time 3D a launch title for the 3DS. It’s kind of weird how Nintendo is working on two Zelda games at once, but they’re complete opposites: one is a rush job, and the other has officially broken the franchise record for longest development time.
Well, I didn’t find any news on Zelda, but I did find this news report from two years ago, about a Japanese classroom where kids are required to play Nintendo’s “learn how to speak English!” videogame.
This video raises a number of questions for me. First, did this idea come from the school, or did it come from Nintendo? Does the school pay for the equipment? And why did they dub over the English teacher’s voice? Doesn’t she know how to speak English? Because…that’s sort of her job.
I know that there are games that help build English vocabulary, such as My Word Coach or Brain Age. You usually find these educational titles in the discount section at stores. The games themselves are okay, until you reach the spelling challenges. That’s when you quickly learn that the DS screen does a terrible job of recognizing handwriting.
I can’t tell you how many times I got points knocked off my score on Brain Age, because the game thought I wrote an “c” whenever I tried to write an “r”. And it confuses “t” for “b” and “h”. Eventually, I stopped playing the games, due to the frustration factor. And so, I can’t really see those games as being very useful tools when trying to teach English penmanship to Japanese people.
And keep in mind that I use the stylus that is shaped just like a normal pen. The stylus that comes with the system, manufactured at Nintendo’s toothpick division, leads to major hand cramps. I can’t imagine what the penmanship looks like when it comes from people using a stylus that’s smaller than your finger.
In conclusion, I don’t think this educational experiment is going to work very well.
[Article reprinted from Michael Gray’s blog.]