Games in the Classroom In many classrooms, songs and games are

In many classrooms, songs and games are usually for the end of a lesson or a reward for studying hard. They are not where the 'real' studying takes place but are regarded as a kind of light relief.

I believe that games help to create an atmosphere in which students attention is focused on the completion of a task without realizing that language items are being practiced. As a result, language learning takes place in an atmosphere that students can directly relate to.

Students can bring a great deal of knowledge about games to the classroom. They are familiar with the rules that most games have, and the roles that are expected of them. They know that games have a final outcome, that in some, co-operation is necessary in order to complete the activity, and that there is usually an element of challenge involved.

Games like any other activity or tool can be over done when used too much so that the motivating element disappears quickly. If, however, the teacher chooses the game carefully, keeping in mind the interests and needs of the learners, games can provide a good learning experience in which the students practice and revise language in a meaningful way.

Classroom organization and pairing or grouping needs to be carefully planned and thought out. The number of students required in each group needs to be set out properly in order for the game to work properly. Pair work and group work have the advantage that learners are working simultaneously and, therefore, not only is language practice time greatly increased, but students are less likely to become bored or lose interest because they are actively involved.

Co-operation is also encouraged through pair work and group work, as learners will learn to help each other. Stronger learners can also help weaker learners and the shy students also have the opportunity to speak if they want to.

Organized pair work and group work can be achieved by setting up a routine in the class which the students know what is expected of them when they are asked to form pairs or groups. Students can then become used to their groups and group forming quickly becomes part of their routine.

Games may be sometimes seen as relaxation activities in which the students are not really 'studying' English. However, there are many learning styles in any one class and some students will find playing a game a much more valuable language learning experience than doing other kinds of revision activities. The more variety of games we can introduce into the classroom, the more likely we are to cater for these different learning styles.

So, if the students want to play a game during the lesson, why not' We as teachers just need to make sure the students encounter the words and structure which we want them to learn while they are having fun. Because they like the activities they will be interested in discovering the meaning and usage of the new language targets for themselves. Reference: Heinemann Children's Games ' Maria Toth

Songs and Games for Children ' David Paul