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The Importance of Using Games in the ESL Environment

The Importance of Using Games in the ESL Environment | ITTT | TEFL Blog

One of the things I have learned in this course is the importance of motivation. Both teachers and students have to be motivated so that the teaching and learning environment in the classroom can be a fun and enjoyable experience.

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

The Easiest Way to Motivate

There are many ways a teacher can motivate the student to learn, and one of the tools is the use of playing games in the classroom. Games are effective because aside from keeping the students interested, they are a great teaching tool. For example, for a beginning student, I would have them play “I spy with my little eye something yellow”. With the use of flashcards, I would have pictures that have the color yellow like a banana, a sun, a flower, etc. I could then introduce new vocabulary and have them repeat the word after me to teach them also the pronunciation of the word.

Other games to keep them interested would be a “ follow me game” where I do an action like a smile, jump, walk, cry, etc. while saying the word and they would follow my action and say the word. Aside from keeping the students motivated, it also allows the teacher to be creative and imaginative with the lessons.

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Class Starter

The use of games in the classroom can also be an ice breaker. The course has taught me that we have to have different teaching approaches for age groups, different cultures, personalities, and different sexes. This can be quite challenging for the teacher as she/he would have to come up with games that would keep all the students interested. Some students may be more outgoing than others, and would actively participate in the games, while those who are shy, would hold back.

I was trying to think of a game that would be appropriate for intermediate students that could also serve as an ice breaker for students who don’t know each other, and I think “ introduce yourself with an action word “, would be good for all. Having them sit in a circle the first one would start with “my name is Carl. I like [make the action of dancing ] and the rest would say the action word. After this, we would go over the pronunciation.

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Experience Exchange

My daughter teaches English abroad, and I have had to meet her fellow teachers. One man was talking about his teenage students and said it was very hard to get their attention because of all the intrigue going on among the girls that had to do with the boys in the classroom.

This got me thinking about what games would enable them to focus their attention on the lesson rather than on each other while making use of all language skills; reading, writing, listening and. I did some research on the internet and came across two games that I think would work very well.

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Great Ideas

The first one is “where shall I go”. The teacher rearranges the classroom while the students are out of the room, moving chairs and tables around. Group the students into pairs with one blindfolded and one leading the way. The one leading should give directions to his partner so that he/she does not bump into anything. This game makes use of directions like turn right, turn left, go around, go under, etc which are words used in everyday living.

The second game is called “hot seat” where the students are grouped into two teams. The teacher writes a word on the board, while a team member from each group takes the hot seat. The team members must describe the word for the one in the hot seat to guess. Do this until all the team members have sat in the hot seat. This game will help them in their vocabulary and fluency, and the subject matter can be adjusted to all levels.

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The types of learning games can go on and on. Some of them can be simple, and some can be complicated, but so long as they are fun, active, and challenging, they will surely capture the student's attention and make learning English a truly enjoyable experience.

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