Games In the Classroom Introduction.Often it is considered


Often it is considered that learning is serious business and if students are seen laughing and having fun then they are not really learning. This is not always the case.

In order to learn languages students need a relaxed, fun atmosphere and often this can be achieved by using games.Games also help the teacher create a situation whereby language can be practised and used in a meaningful way.

What is a Game'

A game can be defined as a form of play that involves rules, competition and an element of fun.

Language games are not just fun 'ice-breakers' or things you do on Friday afternoon to end the week, they provide an opportunity for students to use and experiment with language ina meaningful way. Games can be highly motivating and encourage students to search out new vocabulary.

Games that are used in the language classroom have to be clearly explained and should have simple uncomplicated rules.

What are the advantages of using games'

-Constant effort and concentration is required over a long period of time in order to learn a language. Games give the student a break.

-Games allow the student to manipulate and practise the language point being taught.

-Games add value to language.If a student is able to reproduce language in context that is meaningful and useful then the student is much more likely to retain the language.

-Games offer an element of fun and competition. Students forget they are learning and focus on winning.

-Games are motivating.

-Games help build rapport amongst the students.The students are encouraged to co-operate and communicate to reach a common goal.

-Games lower stress and anxiety within the students.

-Games encourage students to use and search out new vocabulary.

When and which games to use.

It's important that teachers see games as more than 'time- fillers'. Games allow students to practise language.

Before deciding which games to use teachers must reflect on several things.

a) The students' language level.

b) The average age of the students.

c) The environment in which the game will be played.

d) The materials needed to play.

After considering the above points the teacher needs to think about her aims for the activity. What he/she hopes the students will achieve from the game.

Games help students revise and practice what they have learnt, therefore the teacher may wish to use a game in the last part of her lesson to reinforce what has been learnt. Some teachers like to use short simple games after lunch to help 'wake-up' the students.Games relieve stress so the teacher may wish to start with a game and follow the game with any language problems that arose during the activity. Games provide variety in the classroom so it's important teachers include them in their lessons.

How to choose games. (Tyson 2000)

' A game must be fun.

' A game should invovle friendly competition.

' A game should keep all students involved and interested.

' A game should encourage students to focus on the use of language rather than on the language itself.

' A game should give students a chance to learn, practise or review specific language material.

Five of My Favorite Games

1. Find Somebody Who.....................

The teacher gives students a piece of paper with five statements.

Eg. Find somebody who has visited New York.

Likes to cook.

Knows somebody famous.

Has children.

Has eaten snails.

The students then mingle amongst themselves until they have found all the relevant people.The student may have to ask the same questions several times and like wise answer questions. The winner is the student who finds somebody for all his statements first.

The teacher can then use this information as a discussion exercise and as a way of learning more about the people she/he is teaching. The places they have visited, hobbies they may have and interests.

2. Memory Challenge.

Divide the class into groups, giving them a time limit, ask the students to write down as many words , phrases, expressions that they can remember from the previous lesson.The team with the most words wins.

A good game for revision or to start the class.

3. Win Lose or Draw.

Divide the class into groups. Each group writes several topics on a peice of paper and the teacher then puts these topics into a hat.

Starting with group No 1. a member is selected to take a topic from the hat ,( if they choose one from their own group it is replaced in the hat ).

The student has 1 minute to draw the topic on the board but is not allowed to use any body language or speak about what it may be.His fellow group memebers have to guess what the topic is in the shortest time possible.

The teacher may wish to choose a student to be time keeper. Group 2 now has their turn and so on.

At the end of the game the times are added up and the team with the least number of points is the winner.

'The topics can be a singal word or a phrase. Eg. Singing in the Rain.

4. Taboo

The class is divided into two groups.Each group is seated at respective sides of the room and an elected student from each group is seated in the middle facing his/her group but with his/her back to the board.

The teacher writes a word on the board, then announces 'go' and each group has 1 minute to get their seated team mate to guess what the word is using only verbal clues. The word on the board is of course Taboo!!!!!

The first seated student to guess the word wins 1 point for his team. The winning team is the team at the end of the game with the most points.

'This game can become very noisey!!!

5. Rhyming Cards.

This game is great for kids but involves some teacher preparation. Once you have made the cards they can be used endlessly. You Need:

-2 sets of cards. One set blue and one set another colour eg. Purple.

-On the blue cards you write three letter words or very simple words (depending on the level of your group).eg. fog, hat, big, box etc...

-The other set of cards need to have pictures of things that rhyme with the words on the blue cards eg. Dog, cat, pig, fox etc.......

Then the game is played in the traditional memory style. Place all the blue cards, words facing down at one end and all the purple cards, pictures facing down at the other. The student turns over one blue card and one purple card. He/she must read what the word is on the blue card and say what the picture is on the purple card.If the cards rhyme,the student keeps them and has another turn.If they don't rhyme turn the cards over and the next player has his/her turn. The winner is the player with the most pairs at the end of the game. The secert is to try and remember where the pictures and words are each time they are turned over.


It is important teachers understand the benefits of using games in the language classroom. Games give students a chance to use and practise language in a meaningful way.They are not just activities for Friday afternoon when nobody feels like working. Games are a real part of learning.

Learning a language is not easy and most students find it a stressful experience. If you as a teacher can lower this stress then you will over come one of the first hurdles in the language learning process.

Games require a little more effort from the teacher, some imagination and preparation is needed but above all, games can be fun and if your students are enjoying themselves whilst learning then the rewards are worth the effort, whats more they are more likely to return the following week.


-Games for Language learning (2nd Edition) By Andrew wright, David betteridge and Michael Buckby. Cambridge universty press, 1984

-Six Games for the ESL/EFL Classroom By Aydan Ersoz. The internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI No. 6, June 2000

-Creative games for Language Class By Lee Su Kim. Forum Vol 36 No 1, January- March 1995

-Using Games in an EFL Class for Children By Yin Yong Mei and Jang Yu-jing. Daejin University ELT Research Paper. Fall 2000

-Phonics Activity Book 1. By Carol Gray Ladybird Books. London.

-Games in the ESL and EFL Class By Angkana Deesri The internet TESL journal Vol. VIII, No. 9 Sept 2002