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Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Directions is a game designed by Karen Rees as a tool to help with language development. The 1-5 players have to make their way across the board to their home location by giving directions to folk they encounter en route who are lost in the town. The cards are all in English but the game can readily be used to encourage speaking and listening in any language.

You start your meeple off on the position on the board that corresponds with its colour and you are trying to get to your own destination on the other side. There's a standard six-sided die supplied but this is not a roll & move game. Each turn you flip a card to represent someone asking for directions. You need to give them directions from your current location to the building they want to reach. You earn a space of movement for each verb you use as part of the directions you give.

That's essentially the game. A token is used as a drone to trace out the directions as you give them, and there are counters that other players can use to keep count of the verbs you use as part of your directions. You can add to the complexity of the routing by closing off roads with traffic cones and the traffic lights can introduce a random element, which is where the d6 die comes in: roll an odd number and the lights are red: you must stop and it ends your turn. Roll an even number and the lights are green, allowing you to continue. There are pick up & deliver mission cards, and conversation cards, all of which step up the language demands.

One unusual but highly commendable feature of Directions is that it can be played simultaneously at its various different levels. If you are using it, for example, to practise a modern foreign language, you can have those at an early stage of language acquisition required just to give basic directions but demand completion of mission cards for more advanced linguists. In this way, students at different levels of attainment can compete together, with each challenged at their own level.

There's an old joke about a country yokel giving directions to a lost traveller. It usually ends with the yokel warning the traveller that if he were going to that destination, he wouldn't start from here. Actually, tho' Directions can be a very good place to start for those setting off on the path of learning a language. It's unlikely to win any awards for the novelty of its mechanics but it's an engaging way of reinforcing language development. The direction cards depend on visual identification rather than text (a card will, for example, show a picture of the hospital) so the game can be used with young nursery-age children to develop oracy in their own first language as well as by older children learning a second language.

Directions is expected to launch on Kickstarter in summer 2022. We'll add a link to the campaign when it goes live.

(Review by Selwyn Ward)

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