Teach English in Furong Zhen - Xiangxi Tujiazu Miaozu Zizhizho

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Many older teachers with traditional beliefs about education may feel that a classroom is meant strictly for lecturing or that games are not useful to the education of students. However, one can argue that this belief is flawed and outdated, as many studies over the years support the idea that games can be a fundamental tool in a student’s ability to learn a foreign language. Rather than saying games and fun do not equate to “learning”, it is important to understand that these activities simply encourage students to learn differently. Utilizing games as teaching tools in EFL classrooms have unique benefits including being easily adapted to suit multiple intelligences, creating a motivating and comfortable learning environment, and providing more control for learners in classroom settings. Multiple Intelligence Theory originated in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner and suggested that the way an individual processes and makes sense of information can be divided into different “intelligences” (Gardner, 1992). In his research, Gardner (1992) suggested these intelligences could be: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematic, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. This perspective that individuals have different strengths in terms of their learning encourages the need for new teaching tools in modern classrooms. While incorporating every intelligence into a lesson is not likely, using games for learning purposes allows teachers to introduce students to more than one of these intelligences quickly and efficiently. Games involving songs, team activities, or flash cards encompass a number of intelligences such as musical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and kinesthetic intelligence respectfully. Teaching using multiple intelligences not only ensures that students are receiving the information in a manner that plays to their strengths but also allowing them to improve in their language learning. Learning a language requires years of dedication and effort to become proficient. While some students may be gifted linguistically, the majority of learners will find the process of language learning to be slow and more difficult. This delayed process can be discouraging to students in EFL classrooms due to a lack of instant gratification therefore limiting their motivation to practice their new language skills. To combat this, games can be introduced into lessons in order to make the learning more fun for the students. According to Gozcu and Caganaga (2016), the competitive nature of games motivate students in EFL classrooms as the concept of “winning” provides a positive emotional response that the students will desire to achieve again in the future. Additionally, games provide students the opportunity to practice their language skills in a way that decreases their stress and overall anxiety (Gozcu & Caganaga, 2016). Typically, anxiety causes individuals to experience risk avoidance at abnormally high levels (Maner & Schmidt, 2006) leading to students avoiding participating in classroom activities out of fear. Therefore, if games help lower anxiety in students it can also improve classroom participation. In the past, classroom lessons were often focused on a teacher lecturing for most of the time, with the expectations that students would sit and listen with minimal opportunity to speak. However, in recent years a transition towards more student centred lessons can be seen and this is especially true in EFL classrooms. Gozcu & Caganaga (2016) claim that games are an essential tool for student centred lessons as it allows students to be responsible and active in their own learning where teacher centred lessons confine students to a mold of repetition that the teacher deems fit for the classroom. Gaudart (1999) also suggests that games in EFL classrooms have the ability to not only encourage students to practice what they already know but can also motivate them to experiment with their knowledge in a way that would not be possible using traditional lesson techniques. This information is critical for lesson development as many times, teachers attempt to bridge relevant lessons together as they are learned so by guiding students through games that help build on material and transition to newer concepts, the teacher’s goal is met while the student is being challenge in fun and enjoyable ways. In countries such as Korea, an emphasis has been placed on students improving their communication skills which requires English teachers to include more speaking activities in their lessons. However, creating fun and interactive activities are not limited to the one language skill. In addition to speaking skills, games can be used to improve student’s listening, reading, and writing skills as well (Bakhsh, 2016). As a whole, the usage of games in EFL classrooms has been shown to improve student’s comprehension and understanding by creating activities that work to their strengths while simultaneously giving students the confidence and motivation required to further develop their skills. With all that is known to date about the advantages of games as a teaching tool, some teachers are still hesitant about integrating these activities into their classrooms. As games are underutilized, the possible benefits that students could be experiencing are lacking. Ideally in the future, there will be more emphasis and understanding about how useful games are to students learning foreign languages ultimately prompting teachers to work towards transitioning to more active learning environments in schools. References (Cited using APA format) Bakhsh, S. A. (2016). Using Games as a Tool in Teaching Vocabulary to Young Learners. English Language Teaching, 9(7), 120-128. Gardner, H. (1992). Multiple intelligences (Vol. 5, p. 56). Minnesota Center for Arts Education. Gaudart, H. (1999). Games as teaching tools for teaching English to speakers of other languages. Simulation & Gaming, 30(3), 283-291. Gozcu, E., & Caganaga, C. K. (2016). The Importance of Using Games in EFL Classrooms. Cypriot Journal of Educational Sciences, 11(3), 126-135. Maner, J. K., & Schmidt, N. B. (2006). The role of risk avoidance in anxiety. Behavior Therapy, 37(2), 181-189.