Saturday, March 6, 2010

What Games Can I Use in an English Lesson?

Excellent question! Games are a fantastic addition to any TEFL lesson and inject a good dose of fun into the classroom. There are many reasons why you should include games in your lessons, and for a variety of these,but the main reason is that, if used well, they can enhance learning using a technique popularly known as accelerated learning.
A word of caution before you start plundering them; games are a great teaching aid, but not all games are useful!
Many games look impressive, but lack substance; students either spend too much time reading out cards that the teacher had written or simply throwing dice and moving counters. The amount of time spent preparing the game doesn't always equal the progress that the students made in learning the English language.
Remember, games are only useful if they practise using English in a constructive way and your students are actively listening to, recalling, or speaking the target language. With this in mind, we've picked a selection of games which require little preparation on the part of the teacher, but are intensive speaking or listening games that have been firm favourites with students over the years.
Catch! (8-12 pupils)
A ball encourages spontaneity and is a useful tool for turning almost any grammatical structure into a game. This game is best played with a group of about 8-12 pupils, and aims to speed up the response of the student, encouraging fluency in spoken English. (Teacher throws the ball to random student)
St: I'm going to work (throws ball back to teacher)
Throwing a ball creates energy in the classroom, helps build confidence and increase fluency in a fun environment.
Team Games
Everyone loves competitive games. This type of game can involve running and writing the answer on the board, throwing balls, or the quieter tabletop version of simply holding up the correct answer. Don't forget: adults can be just as competitive as children, so introduce these games to all age ranges. 1. Go over directions (turn right, turn left, go round the corner, take the second right etc...)
2. Split class into 2 or 3 teams, line each team up in front of board
3. Shout out a direction; the first student from each team must then run to the board and draw the corresponding diagram. If you prefer, you can have the diagrams pre-prepared so the student selects the correct diagram and pins it to the board, but we find that students gain more from the process of drawing out the direction.
Ask students to write their own questions in teams, or form questions using a simple text. A firm favourite with teachers and students, quizzes can be invaluable for practising superlatives (biggest/longest/widest) and can also be modelled on popular TV shows.
I went shopping and bought...(memory games)
These games encourage pupils to recall specific vocabulary and can be adapted to practise any grammar structure. Have some realia or visual prompts on hand to remind students of vocabulary, so they don't get stuck and lose confidence. (Teacher throws the ball to random student)
In summer, I went on holiday to Greece, and Russia
This game requires little explanation. (10-15 mins)
This is a fantastic ice-breaker and a good game for both children and adults. For this game you'll need:
Sticky tape (just in case)
1. Hand out a post-it to each of the students.
It is important to keep the name on the post-it secret!
1. Am I dead or alive?
The only question your students are not allowed to ask is, of course, 'what is my name?'! A simpler version of this game is adaptable for younger children, using animals in the place of famous people.
Games for Children
What's the time Mr. Wolf?
Remember this game? A great game for outside or a spacious open plan classroom, and learning the times. Children: What's the time Mr. Wolf?
Wolf: It's 10 o'clock
Children: What's the time Mr. Wolf?
Wolf: It's 11 o' clock etc...
This continues until the wolf answers 'dinner time', at which point the wolf runs and catches one of the children, who then becomes the new wolf.
Twister? A good activity to set a small group, and children love the silly aspect of this game. Silly (Simple) Simon says...
Remember this game? The class should only follow the directions of the leader if he begins the instruction 'Silly Simon says...' If the leader misses out the word 'silly', the class should do nothing.


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