Using Games In Class: Pros and Cons
I like using games with a physical competition component in class for sevaral reasons. First of all, games are intrinsically motivating. It’s no secret that kids like games, but people of all ages like to win or out-strategize the other team – and as long as there is a good English-language tie-in, this results in people practicing and using English. Standing up and moving around also provides variety and can save a long class from boredom. Finally, traditional classroom activities cater to visual and sometimes audio learners, but kinaesthetic learners benefit from more physical activities.
Okay…and games are just fun.
The difficulties that go along with using games are:
1) Some adults see them as childish. Provided the game does actually practice some part of English and is not too silly though…many adults are willing to give it a go. You definitely have to know your students to know what will fly; there are some activities I wouldn’t try the very first time I meet a group. You also have to take the right tone with it yourself; don’t take yourself or the activity too seriously…be prepared to ham it up a bit and encourage it when people get into it. Also, and perhaps most importantly, call it an “activity,” not a game.
2) Some adults cheat at English class games. This never ceases to amaze me but it happens. Sometimes they just cut corners out of normal human laziness…but sometimes they engage in clear-cut cheating. As a teacher, you should check the rules to make sure they make sense and modify them as necessary. But it is definitely discouraging and silly to have to go into specific rules for, say, boardraces – and it’s de-motivating for a student or team to feel like they can’t win because someone else is cheating. Your students have to be willing to “play fair”.
Overall though, games, especially those with some physical competition component, can make a fun and helpful addition to class. Read on for specific adaptable activities and more TEFL games. Get in contact if you have any contributions!