Games in an ESL Classroom: Are They Really That Important?
Did you say games in a classroom? Is that even possible? Many people around the world cannot imagine or accept that education can be fun too. However, it is very important to motivate, entertain and vary the class activities in order to avoid class boredom. Entertainment in class is also important because it helps to establish rapport in the class (it creates a relaxed, fun and motivated environment) and it works as an evaluation tool (gives us information about the student's’ knowledge). One particularly telling definition of games was explained by Diane Ackerman, a famous American poet and essayist, who stated that “Play is our brain's favorite way of learning”.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Pablo R. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Building Class Relationships With Games
It is essential to establish good relations with your students because it provides a better teaching/learning environment. Playing a game in class will help to construct or improve our relations not only between the teacher and the students, but also between learners. In addition, it catches the students interest and increases motivation, because the students don't feel pressured to achieve specific results during the activity. Finally, it reduces the stress levels or tension in the class and it creates more participation and interaction between the students. For example, the implementation of an easy game such as hangman as a warmer activity, will motivate and catch the students attention. It will also increase class collaboration in order to win the game that involves guessing the hidden word on the board. As a summary, by doing different activities in a comfortable environment the students will have high levels of motivation, and be more interested and happy within the class. As a result, it will help to develop better relations in class and students will learn much quicker.
Also read: Top Time Fillers for an EFL Classroom
Using Games as a Evaluation Tool
Games are often used during the activate stage of the lesson, when the students put into practice their productive skills, and they can also be used as an evaluation tool. Games produce fluency of communication, interaction and exposure of ideas in a fun and stress free environment, without the pressure of having to produce 100% correct answers. For this reason, it is really important to use them as an alternative evaluation tool during class because it helps to track which areas the students have made progress in and which others they may need reinforcement. Games are dynamic and highly adaptable, so if the teacher wants to evaluate a specific skill or area, he/she can change certain game rules in order to focus on a specific skill evaluation. For example, if a teacher wants to work on listening skills and understanding of vocabulary, he/she can develop a game in which a student says a word and the first student to draw the word will get a point.
Also read: 11 Fun ESL Activities for Young Learners
Yes, Games Are Important in an ESL Classroom!
Games in an ESL class play an important role in the lesson, not only as a way to motivate students and build rapport, but also as an alternative way to evaluate the student's progress. As a result, games should be used as an integral part of the syllabus and not only when we have free time. In addition, games are a powerful tool that teachers can also use as a plan b, when the group is lacking attention or motivation, or when the teacher runs out of material. Games will be always there to help.
Also read: The 5 Best TEFL Games for Adult Students
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