Teach English in Dinghu Zhen - Yueyang Shi

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As teachers one of our biggest goals while teaching English to a class or individual is to keep them engaged and motivated during the lesson while also making them feel comfortable and confident as they learn. There are three important ways in which playing games in the classroom can help effectively promote speaking English. By playing “warming” games, students can become more comfortable around teachers and students making them more likely to participate during lessons. They can also be used to keep students motivated and play a major role during both the “Engage” and “Activate” phase of the ESA approach. One of the most difficult challenges we face as teachers is getting students to interact and feel comfortable with one another throughout a course. Often times, the first class is used as a way to get students to establish a relationship with one another and getting them to open up. If students are comfortable from the beginning it is more likely they will participate and be active throughout the duration of the course. One way to do this is by playing “warming” games. With warming games we can have the students interact with one another and help them loosen up and feel more confident; making it more likely that they participate during the lesson as they begin to feel more comfortable with not only the teacher but fellow classmates and less like to lose confidence when they make a mistake. Games such as two truths and a lie or the “pass the ball” game can be a great way to introduce students to one another and get them more comfortable around each other. This is a great way to have the students open up around one another thus making them more inclined to participate in discussion instead of shying away. It can also give us an idea as to how well the students currently speak and think in English making it easier for us to know where to focus future lessons and the best ways to pair students together if doing group work (weaker students with strong ones). While warming games are a great use to start a course and introduce one another they can be difficult to play later on as we find the class gaining more confidence around one another and less likely to need a “warming game”. Even though we are less likely to us “warming games” after the first couple of lessons games are still an integral part in other areas of a course. Games in the classroom are also a good device to use as a “reward” and means of motivation for the students. They will remain more motivated and less likely to have their attention drift from the lesson if there is the possibility of playing a game during class. Often times students can find basic grammar lessons boring so if we can keep their attention focused during this part of a lesson with the possibility of playing a communication game later their behaviour during the “boring” part may be more positive and productive. Communication games such as Monopoly or Clue are great so that they keep learning and practicing communicative language while enjoying themselves at the same time. Both the “Engage” and “Activate” phase of the ESA approach can be made easier by using games. In Unit 3 we discussed how playing games in the classroom are an essential part to the ESA approach in teaching English. During “Engage” phases we can use games to get the students thinking and talking in English which lays the basic ground work for what the focus of the lesson will be on. If using a game during the “Engage” phase we need to choose one that creates some sort of discussion. “I spy” can be a great way to get students familiar with everyday items, whether it be with what is seen in the classroom, or if we’re lucky enough to have a smart-screen we can put different images on the board such as kitchens, bedrooms, restaurants, and have the students say what they see in the image. For the “Activate” stage role-play games can be an effective and fun way to practice the words that they have learned during the “Engage” phase and help effectively promote speaking English in everyday situations. By playing games in the classroom we can effectively promote speaking English in a comfortable and enjoyable by creating an enjoyable atmosphere that keeps the students attention while at the same time helping them learn and gain confidence; whether it’s getting students comfortable with their fellow classmates and teachers or using them as a means to drive a lesson, games should be considered an integral part to lesson planning and as a device to effectively promote speaking in English. As teachers we must be sure to use them when the situation calls for it but when used correctly we can see the positive results.