Games in the Classroom ?There is a common perception that all
'There is a common perception that all learning should be serious and solemn in nature, and that if one is having fun and there is hilarity and laughter, then it is not really learning. This is a misconception. It is possible to learn a language as well as enjoy oneself at the same time. One of the best ways of doing this is through games.' says Lee Su Kim in his article, 'Creative Games for the Language Class.' He adds a list of the advantages of using games in the classroom. His list is,
'1. Games are a welcome break from the usual routine of the language class.
2. They are motivating and challenging.
3. Learning a language requires a great deal of effort. Games help students to make and sustain the effort of learning.
4. Games provide language practice in the various skills- speaking, writing, listening and reading. 5. They encourage students to interact and communicate.
6. They create a meaningful context for language use.'
Many other experienced ESL teachers and experts of the field strongly state that using games in the classroom is invaluable. Maria Toth, author of a teacher's resource book, Children's Games, says, 'Games help to create a context in which children's attention is focused on the completion of a task without necessarily realising that language items are being practised. As a result language learning takes place in a context that children can directly relate to.' Agnieszka Uberman also says, 'Games encourage, entertain, teach, and promote fluency. If not for any of these reasons, they should be used just because they help students see beauty in a foreign language and not just problems that at times seem overwhelming.'
Games are not only for younger learners and do not have to be in a certain format. Adults as well as younger learners can benefit from games. The well-known ESL author Jim Scrivener also set apart a chapter for lexical games in his book, Learning Teaching. The first sentence of that chapter says, 'Many well-known word games can be used in the classroom as fillers or as integrated practice activities.'
However, the games we can use for adult learners might differ from the games we use for younger learners. The teachers can use plenty of different games and game materials to make their lesson more entertaining. Games help the teachers to establish rapport among the students and between them and the teacher. Almost all the games require pairwork or groupwork and this makes the students work simultaneously. Stronger and weaker students will put their knowledge and skills together and will learn from each other. To get the maximum benefit from the games and to make the game playing times beneficial and entertaining for all the students, the teacher must make sure that all the students, especially the younger learners, know exactly what they are supposed to do, how they are supposed to do it, and when. They should know what the aim of the game is right from the start. In her book, Maria Toth warns us about games, 'Games like any other activity or tool can be overexploited when used too much so that the motivating element disappears rapidly. If however the teacher chooses the game carefully, keeping in mind the interest and needs of the learners, games can provide a valuable learning experience in which the children practise and revise language in a meaningful way.' How then can we choose the games carefully as Maria Toth stated' What are the right games for our students' What should be our criteria when choosing a game'
Yin Yong Mei and Jang Yu-jing, from Daejin University, gives an answer to this question in their ELT Research Paper dated fall of 2000,
'* A game must be more than just fun.
* A game should involve "friendly" competition.
* A game should keep all of the 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, practice, or review specific language material. (Tyson, 2000)'
1.Kim, Su Lee ´Creative Games for the Language Class´, ´Forum´ Vol. 33 No 1, January - March 1995, Page 35. http://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol33/no1/P35.htm
2.Toth, Maria Children's Games, Teacher's Resource Book, Page 6. 3.Uberman, Agnieszka ´The Use of Games For Vocabulary Presentation and Revision´, ´Forum´ Vol. 36 No 1, January - March 1998 Page 20. http://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol36/no1/p20.htm
4.Scrivener, Jim Learning Teaching, Page 347.
5.Yin Yong Mei and Jang Yu-jing Daejin University ELT Research Paper. Fall, 2000. (cited in http://www.teflgames.com