Games as a Game-Changer in an ESL Classroom
There are many benefits to using games in the classroom, including the creation of an engaging learning experience for students, a positive learning environment, and the potential for students to practice real-life situations with instant feedback. Also, gamification of learning can use students’ natural inclination for socialization, achievement, and award. Thus, games can be a great tool for teaching English as a foreign language.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Tassyn M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Reasons to use games
Games should be used with a direct purpose and should be monitored carefully to see if the intended results are achieved. When following the Engage, Study, Activate (ESA) method for teaching, games may be used for any stage—if used correctly. Games may be used as a ‘warmer’ in the engage phase or as an activity in the activate stage of a lesson. The size of the class should also be taken into account when selecting appropriate games. Sigurgeirsson (1995) divides games into various categories: large and small group games, introduction games, card games, word games, physical games, story games, and question games, among others.
Most pre-designed games have been developed with particular lessons or vocabulary topics in mind. One example of an introduction game is a ‘search game’, which may include going around the classroom and finding people who own various things, such as a pet or a name that starts with a particular letter. Activities used for vocabulary and grammar may include various communication games.
An example of a game commonly used for grammar practice is the perfect possessions game for practicing possessive pronouns. Students would pull cut-outs images from magazines from a bag, such as a picture of a person or object, and talk about what they see in the image. Another simple yet effective game for practicing vocabulary is crossword puzzles. Crossword puzzles can help language learners identify and remember vocabulary, which can be used in the future for both productive and receptive language tasks.
Games in grammar and vocabulary teaching
When teaching grammar such as tenses, games should be carefully selected to elicit responses in the targeted language tense. For example, Pictionary can be used to get students to guess drawings using present continuous sentence structure. When teaching the past tense, a teacher may use the detective game, asking students questions such as, “Where were you on August 25, at 2 pm?” and having them respond in the past tense.
Pitfalls of using games
Challenges can arise with the use of games if students are confused about the rules or purpose of the game. Teachers should give clear and detailed instructions before starting the game and be available to help during the game if any issues arise. When used in conjunction with other methods, games can help students acquire several language skills while having fun and socializing with their classmates.
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Games can help students practicing the language by reducing their stress, increasing confidence, and boosting the energy level in the classroom while promoting problem-solving and participation. Appropriately tailored for the size, language level, and other characteristics of the class, games can be an excellent tool for teaching English.
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