It’s easy to forget to just “play the game”, when using WAYK for the first time. The temptation to “remember” and “learn” is always lurking, ready to pounce on an unwary player.

“But don’t we play WAYK so we can learn a language?”

Most new players are surprised when we answer, “No! Don’t learn anything. Just play.” What we’ve found is that almost everyone, including academically successful students and professionals, has some amount of old, institutional (and more precisely, slower) models of what it means to become fluently proficient, and how one gets there. We all went to school, and we all share a culture of what we think learning is supposed to look like, even when it is unsuccessful. Even experienced WAYK players continually find new, unexamined assumptions about learning that have decelerated game play.

In WAYK, we question every assumption we think we know about how people learn. And our standard is even higher than in normal educational settings; I don’t just want to get there myself, I want to bring everyone with me, I want my whole community to have daily fluent conversations.

We have observed in thousands of games, over thousands of hours, that by focusing on learning to play the fluency game, and using your target language to do so, you acquire far more language, far more quickly. By doing the opposite, “playing the game so that you can learn the language“, we have watched countless new players struggle.

There’s always that moment when it clicks, when that beginning player realizes that it’s the play of the game that matters, not memorizing, remembering, or learning, and in that moment, they become language hunters.

To this end, we’re innovating new techniques to encourage beginning players to abandon “learning” as quickly as possible, in order to dive into the culture of the game. We’ve created a new technique, called “the Technique Lottery Game”.

The Technique Lottery Game

Download the following Technique Lottery materials. Cut each of the slips out, there are 18 techniques total, repeated over several pages. You can stack the deck by including more of the techniques you’re interested in and want your players to focus on.

Before you start a game, put all the slips of paper in a hat, and have everybody pull a slip out of the hat, without revealing the technique they have. Play a 20 minute game, with each player trying to throw, as much as possible, their secret technique. After finishing, have everyone guess which technique each player secretly (or not-so-secretly) focused on.

Run multiple rounds, until you’re full and want to move on. Usually this means one to three rounds. By playing this game we think your players will be better equipped to see the craft of language hunting, and focus on the techniques to make language acquisition really fly.

Written by Evan Gardner