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Games in The ESL Classroom: ✅ Common Misconceptions

Games in The ESL Classroom: ✅ Common Misconceptions | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Let's think about a definition of the word 'game' and try to find it in dictionaries or encyclopedias. We will see that apart from amusement value, a game is considered to be a valuable educational tool. Undoubtedly different games are used mainly to entertain and bring fun, and only the secondary aim can be perceived as having teaching or educational significance. Whether students can or cannot understand the teacher's hidden purpose in applying games during a lesson, the process will bring fun, relaxation, and interaction. At the same time, the result will be meaningful and long-lasting.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Mariia M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Are games for children only?

Teachers usually think of games when having young learners, and thus the older learners we have, the less our focus shifts on applying games during the classes. Adults are thought to be more serious, motivated, and goal-oriented, and therefore there is no need to play games instead of productive coursebook-based studying. In practice, we often notice that adult learners are eager and open to play games during classes as they rarely do it in their ordinary lives. Even active moving games bring unexpected positive, educative results with pleasure, not with suffering or tremendous efforts.Whenever you ask your young and very young learners about what shall be done next, they unanimously and without a second of hesitation answer – play a game. They show us as teachers what is better for them right now and all the time. Their brain works better when they move, and so studying should involve at least minimum possible movements. Children love competitions. Thus having teams and striving to bring victory to the team is the most excellent motivator and impetus. As children have a short concentration span, you should change the activity all the time, so they switch and work and are not bored. Games are an irreplaceable tool to help teachers with this.

Games as a part of any lesson plan

No ESA lesson is possible without playing games during the engaging, activate, and even study stage. As a warm-up activity teacher may ask one of the students to choose a letter, all students should write a sentence (it may be even senseless) in which every word starts with this letter. To make students think English during engage stage, a teacher may use visuals to draw attention and raise interest. Students should write down as many words related to the particular picture or all of them as they can. The winner gains the opportunity to help the teacher distribute the worksheets or write on the blackboard the necessary information. Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, memory games, Pictionary, anagrams, and word search are integral parts of any lesson study stage. Teaching new vocabulary, memorizing grammar rules, functional language structures, reading and listening, dictations should be done in the form of a game. Games not only reduce the tension of studying and learning but also variegate lessons and language.

Choosing an appropriate game

Sometimes students are reluctant to play games, and it often happens when a teacher proposes or imposes to play an improper game for particular learners' age. Bearing in mind that five to nine-year-olds like talking, singing, shouting, and dislike being static and quiet least of, the teacher should try to play memory games when children sit and listen to others' sentences, remember them, then repeat. Instead, mingle games will arouse much more interest and support. Miming activities are highly welcomed with very young learners as they adore acting, performing, and pretending to be someone else. On the contrary, nine to thirteen years old are usually embarrassed performing in front of others, so miming games will not always be accepted. Instead of banning smartphones during English classes, we may set up tasks for pairs of students using the Internet and finding information there and then presenting it to other students.

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A good teacher will constantly adapt any game to the students' needs, interests, and even peculiarities. Teachers are creators of learners' attitudes to studying, languages, and results. Learning is impossible without fun and pleasure – we have games to provide it. Language should be very applicable to real-life situations – games can create such cases, and training students' problems are directly linked to constant repetitions and revision – use games to refresh and renew and not be bored.

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