Games in the classroom The use of games in a TESL class can be

The use of games in a TESL class can be an important part of the class structure. Games are not only fun and a means of relaxation but are also another aspect of the learning process. Games provide the means by which the entire class can exercise the playful and creative sides of themselves while promoting a closer rapport between students and teacher-student relations.

Playing games allows the students to shift from a didactic environment to a more relaxed one. This is an important part of the structure of the class. Subjecting the students exclusively to an environment that is rigorously pedantic can be stressful. Studies show that stress is counter-productive to learning and that the environments that best promote learning are those that vary class structure and include a high degree of student participation.

The nature of game playing has similarities to the nature of language use. Both have rules, goals and closure (as a teacher, I would emphasize how creative language use can be while adhering to the rules of grammar.). However, games tend to be competitive and so care must be taken to keep this factor in proper perspective. Games may differ in objectives and levels of difficulty and, while having academic merit, should not appear to favor or promote the ability of one student over another except in cases where it is the specific objective of the game to make such distinctions.

There are a variety of games that may be used in the classroom and the teacher should take care when selecting one. Games will benefit different students in different ways and different games require different skills. Some games focus on listening, some on speaking, some on reading or writing (spelling, pronunciation, etc). Some games are designed for children and some for adults. Just as in planning academic lessons, the teacher needs to make sure that the game selected is not too easy or too difficult for the students. The teacher should also attempt to 'tie in' a game to the academic aspect of the class. By selecting a game relevant to the lesson, the student (especially the younger student) will understand a real world application of language rules, which may result in more attention being paid to lessons in grammar.

One of the most popular games for young students is 'Simon Says. ` This game includes a wide possibility of functions, including that of receiving instructions. Depending on the age of the student, it can be useful in teaching vocabulary (identifying parts of the body or the student's immediate surroundings, for example) or reviewing grammatical exercises. The focus of the game should match what the teacher wants to teach. Focusing on vocabulary or grammar is one way of addressing a subject at hand, but younger students can also benefit from learning how word symbols refer to actual physical phenomena.

When considering games for older students or business students, role- playing games can be very helpful. Older students and those studying business English are usually learning English for a specific purpose. Perhaps they wish to travel or gain employment therefore; they need not only a grammatical foundation but also 'real world' practice. Role playing games can de designed specifically for each student's needs by simulating the kind of environment and situation the student will typically encounter.

There are, literally, hundreds of games that could be considered as a teaching supplement for a TESL course. The teacher will need to research the games available and determine which are right for his teaching style and the students' needs. And, when used appropriately, games play an integral part of any TESL curriculum.