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Games in the classroom I think that games hold a very
I think that games hold a very important and too often neglected place in the classroom. Games may have a more obvious benefit when teaching young learners, but they also have their place in adult learner classrooms. In this article I'll try and present a few of the benefits of using games in the classroom, obviously there are many more and all teachers should be encouraged to find what works best for them and their students. Games are becoming more widely accepted in classrooms that used to be very still and quiet, as specialists acknowledge the fact that people learn better in less stressful environments.
Games can help motivate students to learn the lesson at hand because of their competitive nature. Not wanting to let their team or themselves down the students make more of an effort to learn and also see the immediate result of their efforts (whether good or bad).
Games can help students to learn while having fun, which in most cases means learning without the hard work and frustration sometimes associated with learning a new language. I.e. if for example, you ask a group of students to fill out a worksheet to test their ability to give and receive directions, the students may get bored, not see the point and also feel inadequate if they 'fail the test'. Whereas if we introduce a game' divide the group into pairs or groups and distribute some simple maps, students take turns to ask directions and then follow the directions given by their fellow student. They will be practicing their speaking and listening skills, using their newly acquired vocabulary and the teacher who is closely monitoring the activity will have the necessary information.
Obviously the choice of games makes a difference as well. And when I speak of using games in the classroom I'm not talking about using 'any old game' just to pass time and keep the students busy, but of appropriate or adapted games which encourage the students to learn and practice their English. I think that using games in the classroom is a very good way to encourage the students to 'activate' their vocabulary. Many students of foreign language study for years and may have even passed tests, written exams etc. and are familiar with the grammar and structure of the given language without being able to comfortably converse in the language. A vital part of learning a language is being able to communicate in that language and playing games is one of the ways to put theory into practice, and present the students with the necessity to communicate in English.
Children and adults alike often find using games to practice their vocabulary more enjoyable then having to prove their competence in using the new language by reciting to a teacher. Games are also very useful 'ice-breakers' and 'warmers' at the beginning of your class or when first starting up with a new class. They can help 'melt' the nervous awkward feelings of both the students and the teacher.
Giving your lesson in a fun novel way can help your students to remember it long after. Games can also help the teacher control the pace of the classroom. If the students are starting to look tired and are having a hard time concentrating, a game can help liven up the situation and help the students be more alert again afterwards when it's time to get back to studying. Or if the students are starting to get disruptive and are not paying much attention to the lesson a game can help channel their energy in a constructive way.
To conclude, I hope we will all come to see games used more in the classroom and recognise this amazing tool and its' potential for teaching all age groups.
Before writing this article I did a search on the internet to see what other teachers think of using games in the classroom. Here are some sites that can provide further information or confirmation.
TEFLgames.com Why use Games in Teaching English
Tefl.net ESL teacher forums