ESL Games as The Best Tool to Stimulate English Learning Process
As teachers, one of our biggest goals while teaching English to a class or individual is to keep them engaged and motivated during the lesson while also making them feel comfortable and confident as they learn. There are three critical ways in which playing games in the classroom can help effectively promote speaking English. By playing "warming" games, students can become more comfortable around teachers and students, making them more likely to participate during lessons. They can also keep students motivated and play a significant role during the "Engage" and "Activate" phase of the ESA approach.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Johnathon B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
One of the most difficult challenges we face as teachers are getting students to interact and feel comfortable throughout a course. Often, the first class is used to get students to establish a relationship with one another and get them to open up. If students are comfortable from the beginning, it is more likely they will participate and be active throughout the course. One way to do this is by playing "warming" games. With warming games, we can have the students interact with one another and help them loosen up and feel more confident; making it more likely that they participate during the lesson as they begin to feel more comfortable with not only the teacher but classmates and less like to lose confidence when they make a mistake. Games such as two truths and a lie or the "pass the ball" game can be a great way to introduce students to one another and get them more comfortable around each other. This is a great way to have the students open up around one another, making them more inclined to participate in the discussion instead of shying away. It can also give us an idea of how well the students currently speak and think in English, making it easier for us to know where to focus future lessons and the best ways to pair students together if doing group work (weaker students with strong ones).
While warming games are a great use to start a course and introduce one another, they can be challenging to play later on as we find the class gaining more confidence around one another and less likely to need a "warming game." Even though we are less likely to use "warming games" after the first couple of lessons, games are still an integral part of other course areas. Games in the classroom are also an excellent device to use as a "reward" and motivation. They will remain more motivated and less likely to have their attention drift from the lesson if there is the possibility of playing a game during class. Often students can find basic grammar lessons boring, so if we can keep their attention focused during this part of a lesson with the possibility of playing a communication game later, their behavior during the "boring" function may be more positive and productive. Communication games such as Monopoly or Clue are great so that they keep learning and practicing communicative language while enjoying themselves at the same time.
Both the "Engage" and "Activate" phases of the ESA approach can be made more accessible by using games. In Unit 3, we discussed how playing games in the classroom is essential to the ESA approach in teaching English. During the "Engage" phases, we can use games to get the students thinking and talking in English, which lays the essential groundwork for the lesson's focus. If using a game during the "Engage" phase, we need to choose one that creates some discussion. "I spy" can be a great way to get students familiar with everyday items, whether it be with what is seen in the classroom, or if we're lucky enough to have a smart-screen we can put different images on the board such as kitchens, bedrooms, restaurants, and have the students say what they see in the picture. For the "Activate" stage, role-playing games can be an effective and fun way to practice the words they have learned during the "Engage" phase and help effectively promote speaking English in everyday situations.
By playing games in the classroom, we can effectively promote speaking English in a comfortable and enjoyable by creating a pleasant atmosphere that keeps the student's attention while at the same time helping them learn and gain confidence; whether it's getting students comfortable with their classmates and teachers or using them as a means to drive a lesson, games should be considered an integral part to lesson planning and as a device to effectively promote speaking in English. As teachers, we must be sure to use them when the situation calls for them, but we can see positive results when used correctly.
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