Since very little, we start playing and something as easy as kicking a ball is a way of discovering things, socialize and interact with the environment.
Games are very successful indeed in the language classroom due to their ludic factor and their benefits to communication.
In active learning, we, as teachers are not the protagonists in the classroom but the learners, so what we do with games is giving them the means and letting them to be the persons in charge of their own learning process.
Games can serve as means of creating a positive atmosphere in the classroom (we don’t have to forget that most learners suffer from anxiety when talking publicly in a language that is not their mother tongue and that we also have shy students in our lessons) so everyone feels more comfortable and learning takes place effortlessly.
There are lots of games we can use:
– Some of them can help us to introduct new content. For example; playing Simon Says can be useful to teach the imperative to students or helping them to review what they already know and introduce new vocabulary.
Mimics is another game in which students have to act out and the rest of the class ask questions to the person who is acting in order to guess what he/she is doing. In these games, students are totally active and involved in the learning process.
– Taboo: taboo is very helpful to develop communicative skills. I have tried this game in my speaking lessons and it can be adapted to different levels. All of my students love it and I think it’s the best game I’ve tried that make them speak in English during most of the time.
– Guessing game: in this game we can review lots of vocabulary. A student sits down on a chair in front of the blackboard. Another student or the teacher draws something on the blackboard and the student who’s sitting has to guess what’s the word. He/She has to throw questions to the class: Is it an object/person/animal/sport…? the class will answer YES/NO. It is a funny game that keeps them all involved and reinforces the structure of questions in English.
– We can play board games in the classroom, with flashcards, via Internet… possibilities are multiple.
– Students can play in groups, couples, individually…
– A good thing of games is that we show our students that learning English can be fun and help them to spark their interest in the language.
I want to point out that games should be used in the language class as a complement and we don’t have to spend the whole class playing. We should take profit of the benefits of using games in the classroom to keep our students active and participants of their learning process. Everything we do in class must have a purpose, we should use different techniques in order to make lessons and content more appealing and engage our students. They not only will acquire the key competences successfully but cross-cultural ones as well. It is about time to innovate and change as our students are the future.