Teach English in JirigAlangtu Zhen - Tongliao Shi

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One of the most interesting ways to draw in young learners that are learning English as a second language is to use games in one’s lesson plan. The way in which games can be implemented into a teacher’s lesson plan are that they must be used correctly and have relevance, as well as understanding the different age levels and which games are appropriate. Lastly, what will be included is my own experience of using games within the classroom while training and teaching at an ESL school in China. Any game that is used by a teacher in their lesson must have a larger purpose for being used. They must be educational, have set rules, and an element of fun for the learners. The games themselves can be adapted from previously created games or made by the teacher themself, but they must be educational in nature or use the proper vocabulary or letters that are relevant to the lesson. For example, as stated in Unit 5, “Start with the teaching point and think about which games could be used to cover that point.” (YL_unit 5, pg. 6) and, “Games by their nature tend to create noise and excitement, be prepared for this…” (YL_Unit 5, pg. 6). In other words, one should start with a teaching portion that precedes the game, then segue into the game and its rules. It is also important to have an idea of which game to use in the lesson and how they can be implemented correctly without getting off topic. Lastly, it is imperative that one is aware of how to control their class and calming them down if the games get out of hand or if the students get too excited while playing the game. One of the most important aspects one should remember while using games is that the ages of young learners matters greatly. As stated in unit 2, “Five to nine year olds and nine to thirteen like playing games,” (YL_ unit 5, pg. 17). Therefore, all age levels of young learners can connect with playing games and can learn quickly and effectively from them. They do this primarily because they play games already outside the classroom, whether games already invented or creating games on their own; young learners already know how to follow rules and actively participate in set activities. When learners get older, they can’t spend all their time learning through games. They have to have longer communicative or reading activities than children five to nine years old. Despite this, as it says again in Unit 5, “When thinking about your longer communicative active activities you should try games… your students spend a fair portion being serious, so a bit of light relief is always appreciated,” (YL_ unit 5, pg. 5). This means that it is always good to introduce fun into teaching so that young learners will not only be enthusiastic about learning, but becoming more interested in the subject they are learning in general. While learning to be an ESL teacher in China and teaching classes for over a month, I’ve learned more about how to effectively use games in teaching young learners. For the school that I am working at, we use games not only as warm ups, but as different activities for teaching in general. The methods are described to me as being adapted from Montessori and IB methods, with many of the games being adapted from Stuart Allen’s The big book of classroom warmers & games for kids. The game themselves are used as non-authentic materials or as stated in Unit 4, “materials that have been produced, either by an educational company or individual teachers for the specific purpose of being a teaching aid,” (YL_Unit 4, pg. 3). The games are used as materials that are designed by an educational company to be used for teaching and are implemented in nearly every class as well as hands on activities that allow children to learn how to go shopping at a market, make food, and learn physical activities. As for how warming up and the games differ, as it is stated in Stuart Allen’s book, “Warmers should build confidence and can have a huge impact on the success (or failure) of the lesson that follows,” (Allen, 8) and, “A game, on the other hand, is an activity that has an element of competition and winning involved,” (Allen, 8). It is very important to know that through games there is always a winner and sense of competition, therefore, while there are winners in the games, what is more important is the participation and all students are rewarded in different ways for their participation, usually by validation or through “prizes” like getting stickers. While I personally believe that rewarding the said “winners” of the games as simple bribes, the other teachers at the school insist that it will eventually get the young learners wanting to try for themselves and learn that they may possibly get a prize next time. This is a flawed method I believe, as there is no guarantee that the children will want to try learning for themselves and could always see learning as something they will just automatically get rewarded for. Despite this, I do think that the idea of everyone being a winner and participation as being the most important part of the game is most important because it shows that the games are more based on learning the subject instead of just winning. In conclusion, games are important in learning as children learn the easiest and best through games. Learning can’t always be slow and mundane, children need to have fun as well and through learning games they can have fun and do something new instead of just learning what is considered by most as “conventional.”