Teach English in HuAshi Zhen - Xiangtan Shi

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To many students, school can feel like more of a chore than a pleasurable experience. Whether it is struggling to pay attention to lectures or to complete homework assignments, all students will lose focus at some point or another. One way to make the learning process more pleasurable is by transforming the classroom into a game-like environment. This does not necessarily mean playing games in class, but it does mean applying similar concepts to the classroom. Many of the games we enjoy also happen to build real-life skills such as problem-solving, communicating, and cooperating. Playing can be a great way to build social bonds and explore new ideas. Playing is especially rewarding as we celebrate reaching new levels on the way to a final goal. Teachers can use game-like qualities in their classrooms to influence their students’ motivation. One simple way to apply a game-design concept to an educational environment is by adapting grades. Instead of earning letter grades, students can earn victory points. In addition, instead of deducting points for wrong answers, teachers can add up points for correct answers. A teacher could even recognize the class’s accomplishments through some kind of visual progress bar or achievement badge that shows they are getting closer to their goal. These small shifts create positive reinforcement rather than feelings of not being good enough. A second simple way to apply a game-design concept to an educational environment is by changing the classroom language. Finding out what kind of subjects the students most relate to can help teachers come up with an engaging narrative. Instead of having to write an essay, they get a chance to go on a quest. Instead of having to study for an exam, they get a chance to defeat an evil emperor. You could even re-frame foreign language reading and listening as ‘deciphering a secret code’. The narrative that the teacher builds around the task can make the experience more exciting so that students are able to stay engaged longer. A third simple way to apply a game-design concept to an educational environment is by modifying the structure of a class. For example, group projects can be used more frequently to encourage cooperation and mentoring among students so that their team can successfully complete a challenge. Knowing that teammates are counting on them will make it more difficult to drag their feet or become demotivated. In addition, group projects increase the sharing of ideas and student talk time. Another example is, instead of a final exam at the end of the course, students could be allowed to choose from a variety of paths such as an essay, presentation, or some other creative work to showcase their skills and knowledge. Gamification is one way to challenge students as well as bring some more fun into the classroom. By adapting grades, changing the classroom language, and modifying the structure of a class, teachers can begin to influence students’ motivation through a game-like environment. This playfulness will hopefully be remembered as a positive experience, and inspire future learning as well.