The playing of games as part of a lesson is a very effective tool in different ways: It helps students practice their english
skills and it helps create a fun and relaxed learning atmosphere in the classroom. As opposed to strictly teacher
centered learning/teaching, the integration of games and playful/effortless activities into the lessons makes students more motivated and wanting to participate. Games help create rapport between the students and can support the feeling of group identity and togetherness. Moreover, games can provide useful information for the teacher
when evaluating a student's language skills (e.g in regard to conversational or grammatical skills). In the perfect gaming situation the students forget that they are actually sitting in a lesson. This is when learning really sets in and memorizing the new language is most effective.
No matter what age, everybody enjoys little games such as "hangman", "scattegories®", "word linking" or "consequences". Another good thing about games is that they can be used at any stage during a lesson, be it during the engage stage, the study or the activity stage.
A simple and quick game for the engage stage, for example, would be an alphabet relay or "I spy". During the engage stage it is important to keep in mind that this stage is meant for the students to get into the swing of speaking english
rather than already focusing on the correct use of the language or even practicing new language. Corrections by the teacher
or strict control of the game flow should be avoided, especially at this early stage of a lesson.
Games suitable for the study stage are, for example, tongue twisters (good for practicing pronunciation), hangman or crossword puzzles that support the learning of vocabulary and reading skills.
During the activate stage it is recommendable to play games that include the new language learned during study stage, to help solidify the new knowledge in a playful way. A typical game in such a context would be a role-playing game where two or more students act out a situation that contains dialogues which would be used in real life (e.g. a customer & shop clerk situation). Here it is especially important to let the students use their creativity and to let them practice the language in an open way, i.e. to let them make use of "the new language fluently along with the rest of their language knowledge" (see ITTT
unit 3, page 15).
s should be careful when choosing games for their lessons: It is important not to play just for the sake of it, but to have a purpose in mind, a reason why it makes sense to play a game at a particular moment of a lesson. A game in class should be fun, but it should nevertheless always have an aim or a meaning (e.g. solidifying a new language, practicing conversational skills etc.). Hence it is always necessary that a game is followed by feedback from the teacher
, telling the students how they did and what could be improved.
The positive effect that games may have on students' motivation and encouragement to continue studying english
is invaluable, at any age, language level, culture or reason for studying, as long as these games are seen as part of the lesson and not separate from the rest of it.
I personally wish I had played more games in class when I was still a high school student. Our english
lessons where mostly boring and drab. This tesol course
has encouraged me to make good use of games and playful activities in the classroom, and to strive to be a better english teacher
than the ones I had during my years as a student. I can now see the potential benefits for the students rather than distractions from the learning objectives.