The Effectiveness of Using Games to Educate
Over the span of time, many educators from around the world have been using different techniques to encourage and productively teach students about any topic at hand. Oftentimes, various games or activities are incorporated, along with academic courses, to create more fun and encouraging the atmosphere for students to effectively acquire more knowledge from. Over the years, the format for classroom games has changed drastically, and now there are many more options that incorporate the use of technology and interactivity. Although this can be very challenging, and time-consuming, interactive games tend to motivate, collaborate, and encourage student participation in the learning process.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Mehreen B.
Setting Up The Routine
Having students follow the same daily routine of lecturing and note taking tends to become repetitive, and consequently, creates a sense of boredom because of a lack of interaction. Asking students questions during lectures, or handing out in-class worksheets, only allows for a limited amount of student participation. The process becomes more of a task-based routine rather than an interactive learning experience. Giving students some breaks and allowing them to use their knowledge in a fun manner of practice, can aid with that information sticking with them in the long run. The best way to create an environment in which enthusiasm and student participation are encouraged is to engage everyone in active learning. Van De Bogart states that "active learning refers to techniques where students do more than listen to a lecture.
Students are doing something including discovering, processing and applying new information" (Van De Bogart, 2009). He then goes on to explain that, "active learning attempts to model the methods and mindsets which are at the heart of scientific inquiry, and to provide opportunities for students to connect abstract ideas to their real-world applications and acquire useful skills, and in so doing gain knowledge that persists beyond the course experience in which it was acquired (Van De Bogart, 2009). The implementation of interactive games allows for students to discover, process, and apply the information they are simultaneously being taught with the curriculum. Games allow for individuals to step out of a known routine and into an unknown atmosphere where they can fully engage their minds and knowledge abilities to help them move further in a dimension solely for learning.
The idea of using games in an academic setting is for the sole purpose of creating a better environment for students to learn from and retain more knowledge within. Teachers must understand that the usage of games is not for the purpose of laziness, nor should these games be used as time pass. Furthermore, the games should be designed to target learning lessons and be enriched with information pertaining to the topics being covered in class. Marzano (2010) explains that "the most efficient way to maintain an academic focus is to organize games around important terms and phrases. For example, during a unit on dance moves, a dance teacher might identify terms and phrases such as axial movement, line of gravity, movement phrase, and nonlocomotor movement.
Questions and answers would involve information important to these terms and phrases". This same game-design technique can be utilized by many teachers in which topics can be switched in and out depending on what is deemed as important for learning. For example, TEFL teachers could utilize in-class games that allow for students to converse with one another and even compete against each other. Switching topics around and types of games as well creates an intrigued and enthusiastic audience of students who do not feel are being forced to learn, rather, they want to learn and even be successful at the game(s).
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Interactive games are worth adopting into teaching styles and implementing into classrooms, along with the structured academic curriculums. These games result in enthusiastic and motivated learners, create student-to-student collaboration, and encourage student participation in the learning process. Overall, the use of games will allow for a significant improvement of fluent learning and understanding a second language compared to curriculums that are solely based off of lectures and note-taking. Using games as a mean for teaching is an incredible tool that will never become counterproductive or outdated in many, to all, academic fields.
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