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Is Your ESL Class a Game?

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Joined: 01 Oct 2009
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:21 am    Post subject: Is Your ESL Class a Game? Reply with quote

Many ESL students, especially adults, complain about their ESL teachers spending too much time playing games instead of seriously teaching them the English language.

Most teachers disregard this criticism simply because serious teaching and playing games in class often go hand in hand, and many experts in teaching find that games are quite useful for the learning experience.

If you think playing games is not a professional way of teaching the English language, and you want to be heard by your ESL school and teacher, first confirm if they have a valid reason for making your ESL class a game:

1. To create a more instructive and controlled practice
You can only repeat the same grammar or sentence a certain amount of times before your brain shuts down. Through games, nevertheless, you can repeat the same sentence or practice a lot more times in appealing ways, and in this way, you will be able to function better next time you talk to someone in English.

2. To make the link between fun and memory
It is easier for you to memorize a language when you are having fun while hearing or using it.

3. To reinforce class spirit
When playing games, it is easier for classmates to get to know each other and to learn to work together. You will feel more motivated to go to class and pay attention because of the team spirit within the group.

4. To know how well you are doing
It is hard to know when you are speaking well, or not, when you learn a language, but through a game with points it is easy to know how well you’re doing.

5. To warm you up
Games are great to wake you up and get your brain going and ready to assimilate the language.

6. To train different parts of your brain
During ESL class, you use your memory skills a lot to learn vocabulary, and other logical skills to understand grammar rules; however, your learning experience becomes richer if you can involve other parts of your brain through drawing, hand-eye coordination, and music. All of these are elements that can be easily included through games.

7. To support the natural way of learning
We know that babies learn the language by copying people, but we tend to forget that they also use it a lot when playing; they use nonsense words, puns, and skipping rhymes to make up new words. This is the playful and inventive attitude that many adults lack when learning a language, and it can be stimulated through games.

8. To encourage competition and motivation
People have a competitive nature, thus, they learn faster when they race against others. When playing a game to learn the language, their competitive nature arises, making them work harder to learn it better than the others.

9. To please students
Most students like games, thus, teachers may be trying to please them and get them motivated to learn. When each game has a serious teaching objective, everyone gains something from the experience.

10. Students complain about games for the wrong reasons
Many students blame their teachers for their inability to learn and never blame their lack of interest, thus, games become an easy target.

11. To encourage variety
As every other thing you learn, in order to master a language you have to approach it from many different angles. If you exclude games, you are losing a lot of different opportunities to enhance your reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills.

12. To remember the language through the game
In many cases, the best way to recall a language is to remember the first time you heard or used it. In a classroom there is a limited amount of people, making it possible for the teacher to make each esl-class unforgettable for every student. This is easily achieved through playing different games each week.

Rachel Clarkson is an English teacher at LCI and blogger at the ESL Blog.
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