I just came across the game “Spent”, courtesy of the Leoxicon blog. It’s an excellent, eye opening game that simulates what it’s like to be living near the poverty line in the USA today.
Basically, you’re put in the position of being unemployed and on the breadline and you have to try and make it through a single month without running out of money. The first time I played this, I made it to Day 27. The second time only to Day 8.
You should probably play the game yourself before using it with your classes, just for the timings if nothing else, but if you’d like a lesson plan that exploits a lot of the great language that’s included in the game, then you should also check out the “Spent, but enriched” post on the Leoxicon blog.
It also occurred to me that with the winds of “austerity” currently making things chilly for many of us, that this game opens up quite a lot of discussion opportunities – not least in the comparison of the situation presented in the game to the situation that the learners might find themselves in in their own countries. It opens up a number of issues related to job security, health insurance / healthcare, and personal debt that are worth exploring and exploiting in the classroom. That said, obviously poverty is an issue that needs to be tackled with some sensitivity and it would be worth making sure you know the backgrounds of all your learners before delving into this topic area.