In this multiplayer simulation, students communicate via online chat in teams of 4 or 5, racing against the clock to prepare a crucial presentation. Students are randomly assigned the role of a native English speaker or a nonnative English speaker at their organization, and each student has unique and essential information to contribute. The simulation includes two different backstories — one for a start-up company marketing solar-powered outdoor speakers, and one for a non-profit organization focused on decreasing waterborne illnesses in the developing world. Instructors can choose either scenario, or run both in succession to engage students in deliberate practice of cross-cultural communication skills.
The simulation constrains the ways in which the native and nonnative speakers can interact. As students struggle to collaborate, their resulting experience replicates communication patterns in real globally diverse and distributed teams. The simulation illustrates how much can be lost in translation between people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and provides an opportunity for students to practice skills for better communication in cross-cultural interactions.