Why and How do We Use Games in The EFL Classroom?
The game we are talking about here is not only something we do to make students play and laugh but also a kind of activity with some certain purpose that serves teaching contents. It can also be called teaching techniques.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Xiangnan G. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
As far as I am concerned, playing a game is a necessary part of a lesson plan, it can make the teaching process more fluent and complete.
No matter what age are your students at, they won’t refuse to have some fun games while learning language knowledge seriously. Adult learners have spent most of the day working or dealing with other life problems, they still need to have some classes apart from their work, so undoubtedly they will appreciate it if they can have some educational light relief. For young learners, playing is their most effective way to learn things, so applying some proper games in the classroom will be beneficial to their understanding and digesting of what they have learned. What’s more, when playing games, teachers are trying to create a relaxing atmosphere where shy students can find a bit of courage and desire to join others and enjoy the class. With the help of games, teachers can easily get learners’ attention and attract them to take an active part in the learning activity, especially when there is a prize or treat for the winner.
As talked above, preparing some games in the lesson plan is very important, then how do teachers use them when teaching English as a foreign language?
First of all, teachers need to be aware that games serve for teaching purposes, so the most effective approach is to start with the teaching point and think about which games could be used to cover that point. Second, different teaching stages have different teaching purposes, so varied games should be applied. We take ESA studying method for an example here, at the engage stage, students are hoped to talk more with what they have known, so teachers need to prepare some activities or materials that can elicit them to describe something or express themselves such as picture description, introduction prompts, I spy and so on. Whereas at the study phase, the language points that students have been taught in the class need to be practiced, any game of this kind can be adapted and used in the EFL class such as Hangman, word search and tongue twister.
It is also a good idea for teachers to write down 10 or 20 games that are useful and interesting and adapt them to cover teaching contents. There are some games that I usually play with my students who are between 3 and 6 years old. At the beginning of the lesson, I hope that they are able and willing to say things as much as possible so that I can get some information about them, therefore I frequently play picture descriptions with them. To keep their enthusiasm, I choose different kinds of pictures that they will probably like every time, for example, pictures about Peppa pig, paw patrol and dinosaur or some scenes in the video. Although they know a few vocabularies, they still try their best to present what they find and what they think will happen. When it is time to practice the words that have just been taught, we played a snack time game. Teachers are supposed to put the picture cards with words on the back on the floor and prepare some snacks at two ends of the line. Two students need to name the word one after another from each end, they will play rock, scissor, paper when they meet each other, the winner can stay and compete with others from loser’s group. The student who reaches the snack first will get a treat, they all love this game. What’s more, at the activate stage, we usually play bingo games of animals, fruits or other types of vocabulary. Students have to ask their friends what their favorite animals are and try to finish the chart first. This game provides them with a chance to communicate with others, they are not forced to do this, what they enjoyed is the sense of achievement.
When using games properly, they can motivate students and make classes efficient. There are some items that teachers are supposed to bear in mind when applying games in the classroom.
First, the rules of the games should be presented. Second, after explaining rules, teachers also need to check to understand, making sure that students know what and how they are expected to do. Some questions of the game will be useful, like what do you need to do, what should you pay attention to, etcetera. The most important and effective way to make it clear is to do the demonstration. Last but not least, feedback is necessary as well. During the game, teachers may need to stay back and observe learners, at this time, it is a great moment to notice some errors and take notes which will help teachers do the feedback and adjust further teaching plans.
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All in all, games belong to the teaching method or teaching technique. It can help teachers to manage the class and learners easily and efficiently. What teachers need to be aware of is how to combine the game with teaching contents, how to explain the purpose and rules as well as demonstrate it clearly in front of the whole class.
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