Teach English in ChengguAn Zhen - Huhehaote Shi — Hohhot

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Since the teaching of English began, teaching techniques have constantly been evolving in order to be improved. From the grammar-translation method to the various methods and approaches that are used nowadays, many changes have occurred over the centuries. For the sake of making language classes more interesting, games have been introduced into classrooms. But what are the benefits of these games? In what ways do they help the process of learning? In this paper I will first explain Krashen’s affective filter hypothesis and how games relate to it. Then, I will mention some conditions to keep in mind in order to choose a game properly, and to finish, I will give a few examples of games adapted to a classroom depending on students’ age. Stephen Krashen’s affective filter hypothesis is part of his 5 hypotheses, which are the input hypothesis, the acquisition –learning hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the natural order hypothesis, and the affective filter hypothesis. Krashen claimed that emotions could interfere with one’s process of learning/acquiring a language: negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, and boredom directly affect the learning process as they function as a filter that reduces the language input and therefore prevents the successful acquisition of a language. By creating a stress-free learning environment, the affective filter is lowered and the learning process becomes efficient. To build a learning environment in which students feel motivated, there are actually several solutions that exist, such as reducing the usage of negative words during class, playing slow music, praising students and giving them a lot of attention. While all of these are true, I believe that the most important one is: having fun during class. While having fun, negative emotions are forgotten; therefore the affective filter is lowered and the process of learning is efficient. Even though people have fun in various ways, playing games is fun for most people: it allows them to have positive thoughts, it reduces their stress, and it makes them temporarily forget about their other problems. This is why playing games in the classroom helps creating a stress-free learning environment, therefore facilitates the students’ process of learning. While a stress-free learning environment benefits all types of students, the kind of games introduced in a classroom may vary depending on a lot of factors, including the teaching objectives of a lesson, learners’ age, the size of the classroom, and the teacher’s teaching method or approach. It is important to keep in mind that, even while playing games, there should be a teaching objective: a game has to be performed as part of a lesson and therefore be related to it. Also, young learners and adult students do not learn the same way, so teachers have to adapt the kind of games they want to include in their course. There are thousands of different games that could be adapted to any classroom situations; here are some examples depending on students’ age: When it comes to young learners, it is believed that preschoolers need to enhance their listening skills first in order to develop their other skills properly. To do this, using the Total Physical Response method, playing the “Simon Says” game would be a pretty well adapted choice, as the students do not need to talk to perform this game, but are still acquiring the new language while having lots of fun. Students as young as preschoolers can’t focus on a same task for a long time, therefore it is important to use a wide variety of games and activities to keep them entertained and motivated. Short, simple and repetitive games using body movements are very effective with preschoolers. Elementary school students can concentrate on a task for a prolonged time, so longer games, as long as they are not too complicated, can help them acquire a language and increase their speaking skills: for example, using a simple board game to let a group of students communicate in English enhances fluency. Also, simple games like Hangman and Pictionary are good to practice or review vocabulary in a fun way. Adults also benefit a lot from games: they could get a lot of stress at work or at home, and, as mentioned above, these negative emotions need to be reduced in order to get a successful language acquisition. Simple games, such as the vocabulary train game, can help reduce stress as they do not need a lot of efforts but still allow the students to focus on something that does not create any negative feeling. When choosing a game for adult learners, it is important to keep in mind that the students probably work, might be tired and not willing to move around a lot. To conclude, I would say that, if properly used, games during class can benefit the students a lot, mostly by creating a stress free learning environment, which facilitates the process of acquisition, but also by being played as part of a lesson with specific teaching objective, which makes learning fun!