• Games in the Classroom

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    Teachers and researchers have moved away from the separation of linguistic skills as the best and only way to instruct students learning other languages. Today, more emphasis is being placed on purposeful games in the classroom which create a more carefree and fun environment for its learners. This method, when carefully chosen, produces confidence, creates competition and teammanship, and promotes a desire to win the prize...which is fluency of a 'once' strange language. In the end, everyone wins, since the goal is fluency of a foreign language with a teacher who becomes the hero, because she makes her lessons meaningful and entertaining at the same time.

    Games can be wonderful communicative device in the classroom setting and should be a central part of educating individuals wanting to learn another language. Most individuals will relinquish their inhibitions and speak openly when they are not bogged down with the formalities of a language. Games offer an almost stress free environment that is fun and active and the best possible learning environment...an adventure.

    Games in the classroom are motivating, since they present competitiveness in a safe environment. Because it is such a valuable and necessary element in most things we want to accomplish in life, incorporating it in building language activities only makes sense. The learner is unconsciously forced to concentrate on the game and is in deep thought...which is the intention! Bravo, learning occurs!

    Research contends that students who have been exposed to game-oriented activities hold positive attitudes (Uberman 1998), and liked the relaxed atmosphere, the competitiveness, and the motivation that games brought to the classroom (Huyen and Nga, 2003). These findings present a positive light on game oriented learning and should give teachers an enlightened focus which, in turn, will make them a more successful educator.

    Using games as warm-ups during the 'engage stage' or as fillers at the end of a lesson are acceptable times to exercise this type of activity. Often teachers use games when they have run out of things to do and have a few moments left in the period. Yet, do games lend themselves beneficial during 'study' or activation stages of a lesson? Are they noteworthy enough to be a central part of a teacher's more formalized lesson? According to Rixon, “Games ought to be at the heart of teaching foreign languages” (Forum). His article and observations propose that games should be written into daily lesson plans and used in all phases of activities as long as they are carefully conceived and written into a teacher's plans. They can enhance the engage, study, and activation stages of lessons and be advantageous during review and revision; since they help students recall material easily.

    In conclusion, I am encouraged that games can promote deep and purposeful learning activities in any classroom setting. Games have been used for years in teaching foreign languages, and the articles I have read associate them with pure and simple success. Students' needs are being met in relaxed atmospheres where purposeful games are being used. Not only do they challenge students to learn languages in a more competitive, fun filled way, well chosen ones produce meaningful context and encourage cooperation. Subsequently, motivation is aroused and success tends to follow, which is why I plan to use games in my ESL program.

    References:

    Cambridge University Press, 1984; Why Use Games for Teaching English as a Second Language By Andrew Wright, David Betterige and Michael Buckby

    Takming College, Taipei, Taiwan; Using Games to Promote Communicative Skills in Language Learning, By Chen, I-Jung

    Forum; The Use of Games by Rixon

    Elizabeth Till

  • Games in the Classroom

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    Games are an effective and valuable tool for teaching and learning in both the ESL classroom and the regular classroom. Games provide a fun way to acquire, digest, and express new knowledge. There are a variety of games that encourage and foster learning. The teacher should express expectations and effectively implement the use of games in the classroom. Everyone wants to take part in an active and energetic class.

    Games are useful for learning for several reasons. They break the monotony of the typical classroom setting. They are fun and create a sense of play instead of learning. They allow the lessons to become more student oriented rather than teacher oriented. They challenge students to use and apply their new found knowledge. They provide incentive or motivation to learn the language especially to win the game. Games also teach students how to interact effectively with each other. They encourage team work, kindness, and good sportsmanship. Games are an amazing instrument to teach more than just knowledge. They also teach excellent character traits. Games are extremely important to the success and fun of everyone in the classroom.

    There are many types of games that can be incorporated into the classroom. They really can be used anywhere throughout the lesson in order to make class more exciting or to break it up. Some of the most typical games used in the ESL classroom are hangman, pictionary, charades, and word searches. Many of the games are old childhood favorites. Other games can be easily created with a beanbag or ball. There are also a plethora of games found on the internet or in books. Games may vary according to the age students in a class. For younger students, using games with more movement is helpful. There are many games available online, in books, in creative minds, or in memories that can be utilized and integrated into the class.

    Games can be very fun when properly administered. It’s important to make sure as a teacher that you explain the rules and process in clear and simple terms. Students sometimes need to be reminded of the teacher’s expectations when playing. All students enjoy friendly competition. Just be sure to foster the friendly competition with specific rules on respect and kindness. Everyone can be successful and truly benefit from a properly taught game.

    Games can be especially useful in the ESL classroom. Learning a foreign language is extremely strenuous and can be quite boring. Games enable the acquisition and practice of different language elements in a fun and amusing setting. Games in the ESL classroom encourage communication in English and allow for practice of the various skills including writing, reading, speaking, and listening. They are truly an effective way to engage and entertain students in attaining and using the language.

    If you include games in your lesson plans, your class is sure to be lively and pleasurable. All students, young or old, enjoy playing games. Games are a necessary and integral part of an exciting and dynamic classroom.

    References:

    • Kim, Lee Su 'Forum' Vol. 33 No 1, January - March 1995, Page 35.
    • Vernon, Shelley How to Effectively use Games in the Preschool and Elementary ESL Classroom article 87, 02/24/2007
    • Graham, Richard; Elementary School EFL ESL Games!

    Andrea Burnett