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Playing Agatha Christie in Class

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The queen of mystery can be played at school now thanks to the variety of games offered. My idea this time is getting students to play classic literature in their English lessons and practice how to become fluent in English. And perhaps teachers can get students to read other stories by Agatha Christie after they have played a game or two. Playing in class may be a nice way to start the year 2014. See also introduction to digital games for more information on using games at school.



Start with a treasure hunt .Go to the site with your students and let them answer a questionnaire about Agatha Christie. Here are some possible questions:

  1. Who was Agatha Christie?
  2. In which countries did she live?
  3. How did she start writing?
  4. What kind of books did she write?
  5. Why did she become famous in your opinion?
  6. Have you ever read any of her books? What?
  7. Have you seen any films related to her books? Which?


Version 1 (2- 4 hours) Age 8 and older. Hidden objects. Can be played at school or at home. Level A2/ B1+ Students may need a dictionary. Hidden object games are simple and short; the primary target is to solve a crime. While investigators follow traces, they move from one place to another having to find objects in the room or landscape they are in. The names of objects to find appear at the bottom of the screen, so students can learn or refresh a lot of vocabulary (nouns) that way.

  1.  The class divides into many small groups; every group plays a different game online.  All hidden object games are free.
  2.  While students play, they have to write what they have to do in each step in order to continue investigating. They can also describe the rooms, the objects they see, the characters they meet etc. Having to describe scenery, people and objects they find makes students go through adjectives.
  3.  If students are a bit older, they might like to play ABC Murders where they have to read and try to solve a case as Mr. Poirot, the task would be to write a summary after the game.

Version 2  Adventure games  (6 hours at least) must be purchased, age 12 onwards. Level B1/B2   Students may need a dictionary. The process may last a couple of weeks and can be made a game project (students play once a week at school for 3 hours during a five week period)

And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, Evil Under the Sun, are all long crime stories with plenty to do and think, Mr. Poirot is always there either to give hints or to do what players decide. There is a lot of interaction with other characters; so players will hear a lot of English while they have the possibility to read what is being said. The activity improves spelling and listening comprehension.

  1.  Students watch the trailers, pictures and videos of the three games together in class.
  2.  The class divides into six or more groups depending on class size; groups decide which game they want to play keeping in mind that two teams at least have to play the same game.
  3.  Students play and prepare a short walkthrough after every important step they take during the game, later they read out their walkthrough on voxopop. VOXOPOP is a free tool to use with school classes.
  4.  Students listen to other walkthroughs, try the games step by step and give feedback.


  1.   Open a room in voxopop where only the class can join.
  2.   Help students with questions on the games, therefore the teacher should play at least the beginning of each game beforehand and have the cheat or walkthrough at hand, students should not see it. Walkthroughs: And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, Evil under the Sun.   
  3.   Help correct the written walkthrough of students and their pronunciation before they record their messages.
  4.   Decide which team has the best walkthrough, who has the best pronunciation, etc.

Unfortunately there are no more adventure games based on Agatha Christie’s novels at the moment, but let’s hope we will be able to play Ms Marple and many more with our classes in future.


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Why are digital games so interesting for teaching? Trying to answer the question I read the book and found several answers.  Although the book was written two years ago, it is by no means out of date. First of all, it is a compilation of many contributions made by language teachers and linguists experimenting with all kinds of digital games during the past decades. As the author puts it:  “The diversity of contributions in the book is united by the belief that the rationale for instructional intervention, including the use of games, should be pedagogically sound.” 


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