Douglas Rummell - EFL Teacher and Board Game Designer

game designer usa writer Dec 06, 2016

How often do your students play board games?  Do you ever think about the creative genius that goes into designing engaging board games?  Read this fascinating interview with teacher to teacherpreneur Douglas Rummell.  Douglas talks about how he came up with the idea for Say it Right!

Can you start off by telling us where you teach?

At the moment, I’m teaching part-time at a local language school here in Seattle, Washington, USA. I’m also working in the wine industry as a Sales Representative here in Washington State.  I think sales is the most important skill of an entrepreneur and I realize now that a lot of teaching English is sales.  You have to sell the students on the idea that a grammar lesson about noun clauses will be fun.  When you go into a job interview for another teaching position you have to sell the hiring manager or the school director that you are the right person for the job.  Getting up in front of a class of children or adults and holding their attention and getting them to learn from you is education from sales. 

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching English for over 10 years now.  I started out teaching in Suwon, South Korea from 2006-2008.  I then took a job in Istanbul, Turkey and taught there from 2008-2012.  I met my wife in Istanbul - a fellow ELT from the UK and we moved back to Suwon, South Korea from 2012-2015.  It was a journey of adventure and excitement coupled with paying off student loans and saving up for the future.  

Can you describe a typical teaching day?

As a teacherpreneur, a typical morning is spent creating content, designing products, writing, researching, and finding a graphic designer.  I’ve spent mornings learning how to build websites, how to use photoshop, and trying to get my products out there.  Currently I’m in the process of designing a web Ad-banner.  I have no idea how to do it yet but I’ll figure it out or pay someone who can. 

There is always something to do, bringing your products to life whether it’s a book or a game takes on a life of its own and just when you think all your hard work is over, new things come to light and you have to maintain what you’ve created now. 

Ultimately I do a lot of work before I go to my job.

What do you do in your spare time to relax?  

I relax by going for “Think-Walks” here in Seattle.  I can usually hash out my next step by getting out in the fresh air. I also play guitar.  I can get pretty lost playing a solo over a a chord progression that I’ve recorded on my looper pedal.  Sometimes I’ll start playing guitar and all of a sudden two hours pass by and it feels like 5 minutes. 

You took on the tremendous task of creating an ESL Board Game called “Say it Right".  Tell us about it.

I did take on a tremendous task of bringing my ESL Board Game to life.  My Board Game is called “Say it Right.”   I had no idea how much work would be involved or how many trials and errors I would have to go through.  It’s like being a sculptor, you have this giant block of stone and you have to use your hammer to chisel out your work of art.  It takes time and commitment and not giving up when obstacles try to stop you.  You have to go over the obstacle or under it, go around or break through it!  Don’t give up!

Can you talk a bit about the content?

In a nutshell, Say it Right is similar to Connect 4 and Tic-Tac-Toe. 

How to play is Simple.

Select a Verb Card on the Verb Square
Draw a Sentence Card
Say a Sentence out loud with the correct Subject, Verb, Tense, and time expression.
The Teacher Will ask the students if that is their "Final Answer"
The Students Say "Yes." (if not they can talk amongst their team if they are uncertain of their answer and try again)
The Teacher will determine whether the English is Correct or Incorrect.  If the students sentence is correct the teacher will say, "Good English" and the students will win the Verb Square. 
If the sentence is incorrect the teacher will say "Incorrect."  The student will lose their turn and now the other team may have a go.
When Team X or Team O speak proper English and Connect 4 X'S OR O's in a row they WIN!
Shuffle the Verb and Tense Cards place them on the Game Board and play again.

Say It Right is the Ultimate ESL Board Game.  It actually teaches and reinforces English.  Students must speak in complete sentences in order to win.  So by playing Say it Right, a student must speak a complete sentence with the proper subject, verb, and time expression.  This game trains students to be able to switch between tenses and ask and answer questions.

The sentence cards determine which type of sentence the students must make such as an Affirmative, a Negative, a Y/N? or a Wh-word?

There are 13 Tense cards.  Such as Simple Present,  Present Perfect, and Future Perfect Continuous.  You may play a game with one tense or up to five tenses.  So for example if your class studied the Present Perfect Continuous tense you can play a game of Say it Right in that one tense.  On the other hand if your students need to review a grammar unit then you could review with them by playing up to 5 tenses.  For example. Simple Present, Simple Past, Past Continuous, Present Perfect, and Past Perfect.

There are several verb cards and some of the verbs have prepositions with them so students even young learners are able to start grasping phrasal verbs. 

I’ve used Say It Right with all ages and all levels from 5 year olds to 50 year olds.  It gets really exciting and if students make mistakes and speak an incorrect sentence then the teacher could immediately address the error and explain it there or then or the teacher could make a list of the grammatical mistakes their students are making and create a lesson explaining their mistakes.  This Board Game is a revelator it reveals what mistakes the students are making and it reveals what lessons the teacher must focus on.

It also makes time go by quickly and students have a lot of fun playing Say it Right.  Imagine if you could carry this game around with you in your backpack or purse.  Private lessons would be quite simple.

There are several other uses of the Game Board as well.  You can use it with only one student and get them to read, write, or speak by flipping over sentence and verb cards in any subject or tense you want.  The Game Board for Say it Right is an enigma.  It’s like a ouija board. 

How long did it take you to create Say it Right?

It has taken me a few years to get Say It Right up and running.  It started out as a review game that I wrote on the board in class to cutting out note cards and sentence cards, up to having it graphically designed and put through a printing shop. 

There have been several phases and stages.  I’ve done a lot of testing and had a lot of other teachers use it and test it for themselves.  Everyone is very amazed at how effective Say it Right is.  A lot of teachers create their own uses out of it.

Building a website, writing a book, and designing an ESL Board Game takes a lot of time.  I gave myself the gift of "free time" by getting rid of my television.  So for the past 5 years I’ve blessed myself with free time.

Where can teachers and students purchase your game?

Teachers and students can purchase Say it Right from my website  Check through the website and click on Purchase Say it Right.  That will funnel you to The Game Crafter website where I have Say it Right so it can be printed out and fullfilled all over the world.  At the moment I’m charging $99.99.  It may sound expensive but there is a lot of value involved.  $99.99 is the price you’ll pay for not having to plan lessons anymore. 

Take a look at the YouTube video to see the game being played.

On my website there is a link to my book on Amazon.  My book is called “The Book of Teaching English Abroad, Ten years in the game, Teaching and living in South Korea, and Turkey.”  It’s my story of leaving my hometown in Oregon and moving abroad to teach English.  It’s funny, insightful and I hope helpful for any new teacher out there wanting to move abroad and live and work in different cultures.  There are tips and advice for doing so along with some hilarious misadventures I had.

Do you have any plans for a second book or other resource?

I have plans to create an ESL Topical Conversation Class Book.  Something with lots of questions, dialogs,  and interesting topics so that teachers may take it with them to their classroom or private lessons and have an enjoyable conversation with their students.  It’s in the works for 2017.

What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?

Sales in the form of exchange.  I exchanged my time and vast knowledge of English Grammar for its monetary equivalent. Teaching English as a Private Lesson Go Getter taught me how to be an entrepreneur in my own service business. Teaching English also taught me the skill of communication. 

What advice would you give to teachers who are considering writing a book or resource?

The world has changed since the industrial revolution we are now in the information age therefore you must be a producer.   Create Create Create. 

Be bold and courageous, put yourself out there and make it happen.  Don’t pay too much attention to that little voice in your head telling you it’s not good enough or what you’re saying is silly.  Also realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, take your time and do it right but do it!  Take Action!

How do you market or promote Say it Right? 

I promote and market Say it Right buy purchasing ad space on as well as using sponsored links and mini-ad-banners. I also promote it locally by demonstrating how to play at ESL Schools and institutions here in Seattle. I continually think of ways to create content and post my game on social media like twitter and LinkedIn as well as my Facebook page. Everything I do is an attempt to draw teachers and students to my website.

Is there anything that you would like to add?  

I would like to thank you Patrice:)  I’m very grateful for this opportunity.  Thanks for creating a platform for Teacherpreneurs.  I wish you much success.

Thank you Douglas.  Hope to see you in Seattle at TESOL 2017.


Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started? Here are some ways:

1. Read more teacherpreneur interviews at

2. Check out my Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit at 

3. If you are a TESL Ontario member, watch my free webinar at

4. Sign up for my 4 week online course with - Teacher to Teacherpreneur

5. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur

6. Join my LinkedIn group for teacherpreneurs. Connect with other teacherpreneurs

7. Set up a private coaching call with me

Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media!


Who am I?

My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., TESL and I reside in Canada. I have 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer including 7 amazing years in Hong Kong. I have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as ESP, EAP, Business English, and language programs for new immigrants in Canada.  I'm now a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing courses, blogging, sharing teaching materials, instructional coaching for new teachers and coaching teacherpreneurs. Having a flexible schedule allows me to conduct short-term training around the world at any time of the year.  

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