How Teaching with English Games Helps Children Learn
There are many ways to teach ESL/TEFL to children but one of the most exciting and rewarding ways to do it is by using English games.
English Games not only engage the children, but also teach through play – and most of the time the children don’t even know they are learning until the time comes to show their knowledge! It truly is possible (and almost necessary) to create a classroom where the students not only learn but also truly enjoy their time there.
Incorporating English games into the classroom can build interest in the class, put language in an interesting and meaningful context, give students a break from the pressures of learning a new language while giving the break a purpose, teach real world skills and, most importantly, build the student/teacher bond.
Building Interest in the Class
While many of us might not like to admit it, many children don't necessarily like the idea of being in our classes to learn a new language. Even more, as teachers we all know that even the most attentive children can get bored and lose focus on occasion. Incorporating English games is a great way to get out of the rut of language drills, worksheets, boring repetition and individual study. If you can find ways to keep the children interested in class (i.e. through fun English games), they will also find that they are interested in the topic – and will often absorb and retain more knowledge than if they are simply studying to pass a test or complete an assignment.
Friendly competition is also great to keep children interested – it often is the one encourager that they need to actively participate in any classroom activity. The outcome of the game (even if it is simply knowing the score at the end of the game) gives them a concrete and immediate incentive to use the language as dictated by the game.
Putting Language in Useful and Meaningful Context
Repetition is necessary for fluency, yet there is nothing more meaningless than repetition in a void. If you ask your class to keep repeating words back at you they’ll start to feel like parrots.
Also, if you want the children to practice conversation you have a few options. The problem with most options is that the class is either practicing this real life usage in small groups that don't have you there to observe and offer assistance or much of the class is left to work on their own while you have a conversation with one or two pupils at a time.
English Games solve this because they allow you to engage the entire class in activities that require practical use. When children learning ESL get this meaningful and contextual practice, the language becomes more vivid in their minds and they are better able to remember what they've learned and used.
Furthermore, English games often encourage pupils to use language spontaneously and to think for themselves and they give children the confidence they need to go out and use the language in real-world settings.
Giving Students a Break
Learning a new language is intense and even sometimes stressful. English Games allow ESL pupils to have a break from the rigor of learning a new language. If you find the right kinds of games this break can have purpose and make useful the time spent on the break because they are still practicing their skills. In addition, the students will be totally immersed in the focus of the game and they’ll be learning before they even realize what's happening.
Teaching Real World Skills
Teachers who successfully use English games in their classrooms will tell you there are more benefits than those just related to learning the language. English Games give opportunities for shy students to express themselves in a non-threatening environment. The class will learn to work together as a whole or as small groups. English Games can also promote competition in a healthy, fair manner, if you chose to use them that way.
Creating a Student/Teacher Bond
Finally, as a teacher I’m sure you want to build a bond with your pupils. Playing English games does this in so many ways. You’ll be able to show yourself as a person, not just a teacher, as you encourage your students to do well in the game, or join in with them. Playing games also creates a positive learning environment that allows children to relax and enjoy themselves and those around them.
While some people still look at games as "time fillers" in a classroom, when used correctly they can actually replace "traditional" teaching time with activities that give the students (and teachers) so many more benefits than lectures, worksheets and boring repetition.