Teach English in HAbirigA Zhen - Xilinguole Meng — Xilin Gol

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When teaching English as a second or foreign language, keeping your classroom engaged even when they don´t fully understand what you are saying can be challenging, and getting them to use acquired knowledge spontaneously is probably the toughest part. Learners seem to be conscious of their weaknesses and feel somewhat exposed when being asked to answer a direct question or to participate. Of course there is a range of personalities in which there is always someone who will feel confident enough to answer, but for the most part, learning a new language is somewhat stressful. So as teachers we know that building a safe and comfortable environment for the students is vital for their language development, and this is exactly what makes games in the classroom such a magnificent tool. Playing games in the classroom has an immediate positive effect on students, they feel more relaxed, highly motivated and are less likely to lose interest. There might be a bit of competition going on, so ultimately students increase their participation, they work together towards a common goal, and the classroom atmosphere becomes dynamic and fun. Games can be a part of any lesson plan, as far as my experience goes, I´ve had encouraging reactions either from a bored and tired group of working adults as well as from an energetic, hyperactive group of children or young adults. When students learn through a game, emotions are involved, which makes any part of the syllabus not only pleasant but whatever they learn from it will most likely stick for a very long time. After engaging a whole classroom in a game, students don´t even feel they are IN the classroom, the atmosphere becomes friendly, fun, cooperative, competitive, but most of all informal. This might be the key to freedom, students feel free of exposure, free to make mistakes, free to participate, free to give it a shot! Games are a great way to build confidence in students, loosen up stressed learners and get almost any group going. Some games that can be used in the classroom are: Charades, Pictionary, Taboo, Board Race, Call my Bluff / Two Truths and A Lie, etc. Let´s take Pictionary as an example. After giving out clear instructions and splitting the classroom in two or three teams (depending on the size), the following is most likely to happen. First the team member in charge of drawing on the board has to take a quick look at the word. He / She has to read and picture the object or action in their minds. That is the first part of the process, word recognition. Then they have to quickly decide how to portray it, meanwhile the rest of the team is anxious because time is running. As soon as the team member starts drawing, the guessing begins which is like a group brainstorming of words. So students not only practice vocabulary, they also have lots of fun. The same can be done for Present simple, actually any tense using arrows or adjusting the rules and adding permission to mime present, past or future. Games can be used to strengthen any syllabus point, and they are perfect for the activate phase for an Engage Study Activate lesson. During games usually students experience a lack of inhibition that leads to a more spontaneous reproduction of previously acquired knowledge. One must be aware that in order to make the game phase fun, the teacher should start by giving out clear instructions, make sure all students understand what is expected from them and have the skills to follow through. Making corrections when the game has already started would be a setback, this could result in breaking the rhythm and confidence in the students, furthermore it would make shy learners afraid of participating. There is a vast list of games that can be used in the classroom for any purpose that comes to mind, and even though playing in the classroom will most likely cause a positive effect, one must bear in mind that there should be a purpose to it. Planning ahead is always necessary in order to achieve a lesson. It´s also important to keep in mind that there is no point in repeating the same game too often, as the students will most likely get bored and lose interest. The good news is, that almost all games can be altered to meet new needs or to spice things up. From my experience, I would recommend to build games in the lesson plans as often as possible, I know I will continue to do so.