Game as a Learning Tool in Education
I will start by saying that, as a Primary school teacher, I am writing this essay from teaching young learners perspective, but it's true that playing in class is also helpful and very important when teaching adults or older students than the young ones.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Blanco S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
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Games as a learning tool
Games have a very important and remarkable value as a learning mechanism: it’s natural to learn while playing, we do it since we are kids.
Boys and girls in young ages use games to learn in many different ways, and they do it naturally. Children don't realize when they learn because they don't make any effort, they just play. The learning process is more effective when the children have fun, making games the most useful and powerful learning tool to be used by teachers with the students.
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Games for children
As educators, we must take advantage of the playful activities to create and build up new learning, instead of using techniques and activities less motivating for the students.
The game is the most important activity for children because, as I said before, it's not just motivating and exciting but also the main way to stimulate the learning process. Playing contributes to psycho-motor, emotional, cognitive and social development: while playing a game, a kid needs to be active, to listen, and also needs to understand the things that happen around him/her to interact with the rest of the players in the game and succeed.
These experiences teach the children about themselves and the world: they train several skills, practice different roles and display different routines that the children are going to need in their adult life.
Playing games children build new effective relationships with other children (and adults), collaborating and learning from each other. It's not needed to be said how important teamwork is in our daily life. We learn this since young ages, and games are a key tool for it.
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In our role as teachers, we should turn our class activities into any kind of game, making them spontaneous and fun for the students. Sometimes we can even take part and participate in some of the games, but always letting the learners play the main roles.
Positive thinking will also important for the success of the games we play in our classes: the students need to see the activities as something fun, not as an obligation. Both learners and teacher must enjoy the game.
My teaching experience
After nine years of teaching experience in several Primary schools (in different countries) I have learned the importance of the games as a learning tool. If a kid has fun and enjoys our classes, that kid that will love coming to school and will enjoy the lessons. When this happens, we can be sure that the learning is going to be much more effective.
I have seen how, here in Asia, the students just memorize what the teachers ask them to. They forget what they study as quickly as they learn it; nothing stays, children don't retain any information and learning is not important at all (the scores in the exams). In my opinion, this is not what I want for my students.
As an English teacher, I must make the learning process as natural and practical as possible because another of the mistakes I have seen (also as a student) is to make the children learn grammar or theory without practicing the actual use of English they are studying. I found myself in the UK, after almost fifteen years studying English (since I was 8 until I was 23, at university), being completely unable to have a conversation with any local person. Fifteen years studying English and couldn't have a basic chat in my new home!
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Points to consider
Playing games and being natural in class is the way to avoid that; to not repeat with my students the same mistakes other teachers made with me. The key to our job is to make the kid learn without letting him know he/she is learning. Seeing the classes as duty will not encourage our students to do their best, but creating a fun environment in the class. A kid learns more efficiently when he/she doesn't realize he/she is doing it.
Moreover, I strongly believe that playing games in class increase the self-esteem and self-confidence of the students, being this another of the key points for a satisfactory learning process. A kid that is confident and willing to participate in class won't be afraid of making mistakes and, therefore, will be more capable to learn (mistakes lead us to knowledge).
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To conclude, making our classes spontaneous, dynamic and fun will have a massive and positive impact on our students' learning.
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