“Only those who play can win.” Does this apply to English Language teaching and learning? As I see it from the point of view of a teacher, I firmly believe that it is absolutely true.
Games are a fun and exciting way to make your lessons stimulating while your students learn unconsciously. Games offer a lot of benefits in an EFL classroom. First of all, they can boost learners’ self-confidence and the desire for self improvement. Moreover, they create positive memories of learning. Additionally games support real learning while learners have fun. Last but not least, they stimulate learners’ interest and motivation especially for shy and reluctant learners. Another point worth mentioning is the fact that games facilitate collaborative learning while at the same time they support autonomous learning.
However, we should consider some important things when choosing to use games in an EFL classroom. Firstly, our games should have an aim for instance we want to teach grammar, vocabulary, oral skills etc. What is more they should be appropriate for the students’ age and level of knowledge, be easy to use and short.
We can use our games as:
· Warm up activities
· During the lesson
At the end of the lesson if we have time to spare
Here are some suggestions of games we can use in our classrooms:
PICTIONARY- The drawing game
Divide the class into two teams and create a small column for each team on one side of the board. You will report their points here. Write words on slips of papers for students to choose. The students must convey the word to his or her team using only drawings. Limit the time to three minutes maximum. Each correct word is a point and the first team to get 10 points is the winning team.
Separate the class in half and have the two teams sit on opposite sides of the room, facing each other. Each team will choose a person to sit in front of their team , facing them in the “hot seat”. You will stand behind the students and hold up a piece of paper with the word on it. The students in the hot seats will not be able to see these papers. Teams have three minutes to get their hot seat member to say the word on the paper. The catch is, they can’t say the word under any circumstances.
Take a list of words that your students have recently learned and write a scrambled version of each on the board. Allow students to unscramble the words on their paper. The first one to finish deciphering all the words wins.
Have students draw six columns on their paper and write a category at the top of each column. You can Choose categories that fit what you’ve been studying in class or go with some basics. Popular categories include food, names, cities or countries, furniture, verbs and clothing. Choose a random letter and write it on the board. Give students enough time to write down a word for each category that starts with that letter. You can repeat with new letters as many times as you like.
Write a word horizontally on the board and then have students come up, one at a time to write a word starting with the letter that the previous word ends, vertically. This way a ladder is created. Students who write a word incorrectly or write world which has already been written, lose.
Tic - Tac - Toe
Draw up the grid for tic- tac -toe on the board. Fill in each square of the grid with a part of speech you want students to practice. What exactly you choose to include here is totally flexible and depends on what lessons you’d like to reinforce. If you are studying verb conjugation in the present tense, for example, fill in the grid with verbs in their infinitive form. Students will be divided into two teams for this game. The first team goes by choosing a square from the tic-tac- toe grid . Then they have to figure out , as a group, how to properly conjugate the verb. If they get the answer right, then they claim that square of the grid. If they get the answer wrong, they lose their turn.
Give each student a piece of paper with “agree” written on one side and “disagree” on the other side. Read aloud a controversial statement and have each student hold up their paper showing the agree or disagree side depending on their opinion. Choose one student from each side to explain their position and participate in a short debate.
To conclude, these were only a few suggestions which will make a difference and give your students a chance to succeed and be the “winners” in an EFL classroom.
Carrier, M. (1980). Games and activities for the language learner. Nelson.
Cross, D. (2000). A practical handbook of language teaching. Longman.
Constantinescu, R. S. (2012). Learning by playing: Using computer games in teaching English grammar to high school students. Education Source. 110-115.