The Point of Using Games in a TEFL Classroom
Teaching language to children is a rather delicate and complex process that requires a careful approach and patience from the teacher. To make this process more vivid and interesting for children, it is necessary to remember the existence of such an important and very useful tool as games.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Aleksei K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
In my opinion, games act like some kind of a magic wand which forms the foundation of trust between the teacher and the child, helps to build a psycho-emotional connection, and greatly diversify the learning process as well.
Games, in my opinion, have a very important advantage (which can rightly be considered as a purely psychological argument in favour of use) over conventional teaching methods — a shift in the focus from learning itself to the gameplay, resulting in stress and tension decreasing from language learning, allowing kids to engage in interaction with the teacher in full volume and with genuine interest. At the same time, it does not interfere with the learning process.
That is why it is very important to use games during the lesson. The game form of the lesson increases the efficiency of learning on the one hand and makes children want to continue the learning process regardless of what specific topic the teacher has chosen at the moment, as well as on what level the children are currently, on the other hand.
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From the moment children begin to learn the language in a playful way, their motivation increases, and the fear is greatly reduced, or even disappears, as in the game the child can relax and behave naturally, which in turn helps the teacher to use this fact in their favor to increase the effectiveness of each individual lesson.
The importance of games is hard to overestimate, and there is a lot of scientific evidence. A lot of work dedicated to the subject of games' application is written, and it shows a positive correlation between the use of the game form of the lesson and improving the performance of learning children and their interest in the learning process.
However, it is important to take several factors into account before applying games in your teaching practice. This will help to avoid a situation where the game, instead of serving its main purpose — to develop the level of language proficiency in children, will bring very little benefit, or even interfere with the implementation of this goal in life.
Approach to games
Therefore, approaching the choice of games, it will be very useful, at my sight, to take into account the following, the following three important factors. They have some impact on the success of the games in the lessons.
First, you need to be able to clearly and succinctly explain the rules of the game and visibly demonstrate the process itself, showing an example. If this step is done correctly, the success of the game will likely be very close to the maximum.
The next important issue that should be addressed is the teacher's understanding of what language point will be worked on through the game. Likely, the best choice for the study of the vocabulary of a certain subject can be a game like Monopoly, while for the study of the structure of Tenses suitable game is Battleship. Of course, these examples are only a relative illustration.
The last factor closely related to the previous one which I would like to highlight is the teacher's understanding of what kind of game is best suited for children. I am referring here to the type of interaction between teachers and students. Working out different models of interaction with the teacher and with each other, children, in my opinion, learning to approach the learning process more responsibly and consciously. This factor, in turn, is largely limited to the language point being worked on. At the same time, different types of games are aimed at developing different language skills, namely listening, speaking, reading and writing.
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These factors clearly demonstrate the importance of choosing the right game, as well as skillfully combine them together to achieve maximum results within the tasks. The game will not always be a useful resource in teaching practice if it is chosen incorrectly and does not meet the goals. On the other hand, with proper analysis of the above factors, you can achieve tremendous results, even if your teaching experience is very modest.
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As a result, it is important to remember that the game should not replace the learning process itself and become a priority issue for the teacher in the organization of lessons. The game is just a tool that in the right hands turns learning into an exciting event.
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