TEFL Games in the classroom

Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding and challenging positions in the work force.

Teachers are given the difficult task of introducing new material to students, making sure they can grasp the knowledge, and present the new material in an interesting manner. This difficult task is only complicated further when something such as a language barrier is added to the formula. Being an EFL teacher is very rewarding but is not an easy task. Everyday EFL teachers are faced with both language and cultural differences. Many foreign school systems are just that to the Western culture;foreign.

Many of the teachers in the foreign schools have a different view on their position in the classroom. The teachers are the largest presence in the classroom doing nearly all of the speaking to the students. This can make the students nearly incapable of group work, classroom participation, and leaves them with the opinion learning is not fun. One way this obstacle can be over-come is introducing games into the classroom. The introduction of games can help the students, teacher, and the classroom as a whole.

It is human nature to enjoy competition. However, many students in foreign countries are not used to the idea of friendly competition within the classroom. The introduction of games into the classroom is a thrilling and inspiring idea. When warning is given that a game is in the near future the eagerness and willingness to learn is almost instant. As Wright, Betteridge, and Buckby (1984) state " The learners want to take part and in order to do so must understand what others are saying or have written, and they must speak or write in order to express their own point of view or give information." When points are rewarded to the opposing team this heightens the willingness to try and provide a correct response. This is of course a new method of learning for the students. It will take a few classes for the students to accept and embrace this new method.

Teaching is much easier when it is a joint effort between the teacher and students. It is difficult to teach people who are unwilling and unmotivated to learn. Having games in the classroom makes the job a lot easier for the teacher. The game needs to be related to the course material, interesting, competitive, and beneficial to the students. There are many resources online and in text that can help spark the teachers creativity for new games. Once students become used to the idea of games in the classroom they miss them when they are not there. The teacher will instantly see the change in the classroom behavior, participation, and eagerness to learn from the students. This gives the teacher reassuring confidence in their teaching.

A EFL teacher must decide how do I want my class run, what level of participation is wanted, and what energy level is needed for this to be accomplished? This can be accomplished by introducing the right mixture of games into the classroom. Having a great learning atmosphere for foreign students is a must. By introducing games into the classroom it helps those students who are slower learners become part of the group. As Hatch (2005) stated "In watching groups of pupils playing games I noticed that there were those who played quietly and rather mechanically for a while and then suddenly started to join in and make suggestions. It seemed that in a game situation they had the freedom to assess the situation without pressure until they felt they had things sorted out and then to contribute in a more positive fashion." This joins classmates together creating a positive environment. It allows for student levels of academic to become a group and an effective learning atmosphere.

In conclusion, by having games in the classroom it benefits the students, teachers, and classroom as a whole. It opens up new doors for the students and their motivation to learn. Learning can be fun. This is an important thing for kids to recognize. Having the classroom involved, communicating, and improving their skills can prove to be invaluable. After all, who doesn´t love the thrill of winning even a small competition?

Wright, Andrew, Betteridge, D., & Buckby, M. (1984). Games for Language Learning, 2nd Edition. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hatch, Gillian (September 2005). Using Games in the Classroom. The Association of Teachers of Mathematics .

Author: Carolyn Longfield

Date of post: 2007-04-12