Games: How Can They be Useful in TEFL
We all played them and we all loved them as children. We made them up and we bought them. It is still a large industry today. There are easy ones and hard ones. There are thinking ones and action ones. What am I referring to? Games! From hide-and-go-seek to Monopoly, there are all sorts of fun games to play. So why don’t we incorporate them into our TEFL lessons?
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Samuel S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Ways to Accumulate Games in Your Classroom
You can create your games or adapt to the ones you already know and love. They can be used for all kinds of language purposes, from learning vocabulary to conversation starters. They can also motivate learning English. If learning English in your class is fun, who wouldn’t want to join it?
I was with some friends from China and we were sitting around a large table. I had a Frisbee with me that we were throwing earlier. We were goofing off and having fun, so I decided to invent a game. It was a mix of table football and air hockey. One person sat in the middle of each side of the table. (There were four of us total.) Then we placed the Frisbee on the table and hit it with our open hands. If the disc went over the table on your side it was 1 point for the person who last touched the disc. We played for a little bit then an idea struck me. I knew my numbers in Mandarin, but I wanted to solidify them better and see if I could recall them under pressure. So I changed the game to where the person who starts of hitting the disc says “one” and the next person says “two” and so on until someone says the wrong number. The play kept getting faster and faster. It was a blast! The game kept my attention, tested my recall under pressure and allowed me to hear the numbers over and over without tiring my friends! I say it was a success. This is but one example of one game for one teaching purpose. There are countless others limited only by your imagination!
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If you are going to incorporate games into your class room, your classrooms do it on the fly as I did above, but you will have to think and practice beforehand. You will want to practice explaining it by example and you will need to time it and approximate how long a round will last. You will also want to consider if the students are familiar with the game or its modified version. If they aren’t, you will need a little more time showing them. For example, I loved playing Battleship as a kid but I don’t think that my Chinese students have played Battleship before. Let’s say that I have a modified version where I want to teach different verb tenses with it. Every time they ‘hit’ an opponent’s ship, to make it count, the person has to complete a fill-in-the-blank exercise on verb tenses correctly. It is not a very complicated game but it might take a little longer explaining it to them than if I were explaining it to an American classroom. That’s fine. Just make sure that you have allocated enough time in your lesson plan to explain it. But once you take these considerations and use your imagination, you can successfully incorporate games into your TEFL classroom. Your students will love coming to class and enjoy learning! What teacher doesn’t want that!
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