Teach English in YuchuAn Zhen - Huanggang Shi

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This essay is dedicated to the games used in teaching English as a second language. The first part of the essay explains the importance of the games for the students as well as the impact of positive emotions on the learning process. The second part of the work is a list of principles and basic recommendations a teacher should follow to implement a game in the classroom successfully. The third part is a brief presentation of some of the games implemented successfully in my working practice. Regardless of the age of the students, gaming is a brilliant way to make lessons more fun and to sidestep monotony and boredom. Gaming is not solely about entertainment, it really helps to motivate the students to perform well. For instance, it is known that for kids, the game is a way of learning the world. They learn by play. Tina Bruce in her book «Early Childhood Education”, 2015, highlights the main aspects of games where the most important thing is the kids’ ability to use the experience gained through the play in the future life. Moreover, positive emotional response to play increases the acquiring of new information and skills. This is a scientifically proved fact: positive emotions boost workability directly and help to achieve set goals while the lack of ones decreases the workability. This tendency was proved experimentally: people were offered to memorize meaningless syllables and they were more successful when the syllables were accompanied by photos of attractive people than when the people’s faces in the photos were neither attractive nor outstanding. This test is described in “The impact of emotions on learning outcomes” by Mamtsov Daniil and Sadanova Victoriya. Finally, play creates a real communicative situation where students actually need to speak to achieve the goal of the game. It does not come off as a regular teacher’s task where they have to say something, on the contrary, it motivates them and gives extra reasons to speak. As the TEFL course claims, a good teacher should be able to involve all students equally throughout the lesson and be kind and entertaining, the usage of the games in the classroom really helps to achieve these goals. However, to use the game not only for entertaining but also for educational purposes successfully, a teacher should be aware of the following principles which I have singled out basing on the TEFL course and years of my teaching practice: 1) Ideally, a game should be connected to the material studied in a lesson. 2) Games cannot substitute all the other types of activities. 3) Thus, a gaming time should be limited depending on the lesson aims. 4) The tally of the game should be analyzed with the students. They should be aware of their weak and strong points. 5) Humorous elements are required! 6) In case of lack of ideas, use the internet! Big variety of games for ESL are presented there. Also, some ideas from this TEFL course (unit 14 for example) are really handy. The first game I would like to present in this essay is a “House game”. This game is a paper-based construction with four sections representing four rooms. Each student is given a basic set of pictures of furniture which he/ she can attach to the “walls”. They are allowed to bring and use their own pictures as well. Firstly, this house can be used for an “Excursion” game. Students pretend the paper house is their real house and name the rooms and furniture in it to learn new vocabulary. Also, the students can practice the colors and patterns vocabulary. Secondly, there’s a “Detectives” game (any of the rooms is opened for 30 seconds, then closed and the students are naming the objects they’ve remembered). Thirdly, this construction is a perfect exerciser for teaching “there + be” construction and also the prepositions of place. This can be done as a part of the “Real estate agent” game or as a part of a guessing game where the students listen to the descriptions of each other’s houses and guess their owners. This is how this simple paper-based model can be used in teaching vocabulary and grammar. My practice shows such houses are perfect for both young and adult learners because the format of presenting the vocabulary and grammar is not a casual one, students are motivated to create their own “house” which makes these all unique and special for them, unlike it could be with just some coursebook's illustrations. The second game I’d like to present is a sea-battle game. Unlike the previous one, this game requires much less preparation and can be adapted to lots of topics. The most obvious way of using the game is for teaching the numbers. Students are given square grids with numbers from 1 to 100, draw their ships and say the numbers as in the original game. Another way is to teach personal prepositions and the verb ‘to be’. The horizontal upper line is marked with the prepositions (I, he …) and the vertical line has the endings of possible sentences (… clever, … a student, … from the USA?). The students can change the singular forms of the nouns into the plurals if needed. At the end to find and hit the ships the students produce sentences with the verb ‘be’ like “I am a student”, “Is he from the USA?”. Moreover, this game could be used in teaching the vocabulary describing appearances plus ‘have/has got’ grammar construction. The horizontal line then contains prepositions or names, the vertical one has some parts of the body. In the end, the students produce sentences like “ She has got wavy hair”. Summing up, I would like to say that using games at the lessons can be very useful and entertaining. Games are a part of a natural studying process, games motivate, they are fun and even the most serious adults sometimes want to play.