In the following document I hope to demonstrate some the advantages of using games within a classroom environment for game based language learning.
With a typical course book based lesson environment the student is subjected to a series of repetitious pronunciation drills, teacher centric black board or paper based exercises, and somewhat limited interactions between themselves and the teacher. All of this can add up to one extremely boring lesson, hardly an ideal environment to foster motivation or learning. No matter how charismatic the teacher may be, even the most motivated student will find it difficult to remain so in a situation such as this.
So why do we use games in the classroom environment? What do games offer that make them so attractive to both the student and the teacher?
Well planned games provide the students with both clear goals and objectives while providing the teacher with an opportunity to evaluate the student progress from a more remote perspective.
Games are used for a variety or reasons, for example: because they are fun; they help to motivate a student by meeting their need for enjoyment within the classroom. Games will bring relaxation to most students which in turn will aid them in their learning. For those students who are less comfortable and more introverted, games offer an opportunity to be involved without the fear of drawing attention to them. Adding friendly competition to the games helps to keep the learners interested, and once again will help motivate the students.
Games also allow the teacher to tailor language to contexts that are both useful and meaningful. The motivated students who want to take part, will in order to do so need to understand what other students are saying or have written, and they themselves must then speak or write in order to fully express their own point of view or to give information.
Games provide the learner with a broad set of experiences and practice opportunities; additionally they provide the meaningfulness required in language learning. It has been established that learners respond to different content in different ways, for example, if they show signs of amusement, anger, intrigue or surprise they are clearly finding the content meaningful to them. Therefore the meaning of the language will be more vividly experienced and therefore, better remembered.
If we accept the fact that these games can provide an intense and meaningful practice of the language for the students, then we must equally regard games as central to the teacher?s repertoire. Therefore they are not only for use on a rainy day or as recreation, but should be included as a fundamental part of each and every lesson.
In conclusion, we have established that games can provide students with another excellent medium for learning, however in order to effectively use this medium the teacher must judiciously construct them with specific instructional objectives. Teachers should tailor their games and puzzles to suit the Engage, Study and Activate stages of their lessons. The games should be complimentary to the course text book stages of a lesson and not a complete replacement of them. Although games have their limitations, they do however offer an alternative to the traditional teacher centric text book lesson as they often lower the student?s inhibitions resulting in a much more effective atmosphere for learning.
Author: James T Angrave
Date of post: 2007-04-18