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Why You Should Use Games in the EFL Classroom

Why You Should Use Games in the EFL Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Nobody doubts that motivated students learn better and assimilate taught contents more easily than non-motivated ones but keeping students motivated and engaged during class is one of the teachers' biggest challenges. Playing games in class, though, seems to be of great help when it comes to engaging, reinforce materials and retain the attention of students. Another positive point is that games can be used at any moment in the teaching process by any level. The usages are diverse varying from teaching to getting feedback, not to mention that having students playing games reduces drastically Teacher's Talking Time turning classes more student-centered.

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

Interaction and Fun

Games are always an excellent way to turn a lesson lively and entertaining. İt doesn't matter if its a child, young learner or adult group. Playing games makes assimilation easier once all nervousness from learning and anxiety over succeeding is substituted by a lighter joyful environment. Relaxed students tend to get more engaged and motivated participating more effectively in the learning process. When it comes to ESL/ EFL, games enhance the exposure of students to the new language offering them the opportunity to use it in a relaxed but controlled way.

girl playing with blocks

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Methodological Support

İf we think of the ESA method (Engage- Study- Activate), games are suitable to be used at any moment in class. Engage phase aims to increase students' interest and create a positive atmosphere for the lesson. During this phase, games will work as a warm-up that will take students to think and interact in English before new content is taught. Playing games are also helpful throughout the study phase by smoothly bringing new language points during the game time. The activate phase must allow students to use as much language as possible focusing more on fluency than accuracy. Here, games give students the freedom and thrill needed to put learned content into practice in a fun and natural way. Whatever the stage is games are always a good way to keep students' attention up during an involving class.

Ways to Use

Games have diverse usages when it comes to teaching. They can be used for engagement helping to create a proper learning environment and motivating students during different teaching phases, for reinforcement helping students remember previous topics taught in class or even understanding new materials, for enrichment by helping language learners to increase their grammar and vocabulary knowledge, for getting instant feedback letting teachers know which materials should be re-explained reinforced or remembered. Playing games can be used to develop productive skills (speaking and writing) and receptive skills (listening and reading) permitting teachers to plan fun classes independent on the topic and skill to be worked.

three children playing outside

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Teacher’s Talking Time

İt is not necessary to say how much playing games reduces drastically Teacher's Talking Time allowing classes to have their focus on students. For this to happen it is important to observe some points before initiating the game activity. First of all, the game must be adapted to the level of the group being taught. İf too easy interest is lost if too difficult anxiety is created. İn both cases, we will have unmotivated students and get counterproductive results. Second, the game rules must be clear with a reachable result to be achieved otherwise attention will be dispersed and interaction between students will be caused by diverse reasons than expected leading even to the usage of the students' native language. İn other words, if well planned and coordinated, playing games allows a satisfactory level of student-student interaction giving them the main role during the learning process.

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Video games, digital games, traditional card games, common games. original games (created by the teacher for a special purpose), the list is endless. It doesn't matter the style or the technique adopted, playing games in class will always be a valid tool for teachers by involving even the shyest student keeping them engaged.

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