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GAMES IN THE CLASSROOM Victoria Yakubych, a teacher of English by Rudka School WHY ARE GAMES USEFUL IN THE EFL CLASSROOM? Learners often think of “games” as fun. Teachers should remember that fun activities are also motivating. If games generate motivation they are seen to be a useful pedagogical device. Good games increase interest, attention, and active participation, all of which contribute to a positive learning environment. Games also often encourage imagination, guessing and pretending and extend the range of interaction patterns (circles, chains, hot-seating etc.) which go beyond the more typical teacher-learner and learner-learner combinations. WHAT DO LEARNERS LEARN FROM GAMES? It is always appropriate to remind learners of the purpose of the game. There is always the linguistic learning goal of each game. After the game has been played, ask learners What have you practised? What have you got better at? What have you learned? ……… WHICH GAMES ARE MOST VALUABLE? Games which require the players to speak are valuable. If it is not specifically included in the rules it is usually easy to add it. (e.g. when playing matching games students must say the words aloud in order to win the pair). Games which can be adapted to suit different ability levels are valuable. (e.g. better players have to put the matching pair words into a sentence). WHAT KIND OF GAMES SHOULD WE INCLUDE? Variety is essential. Each category of games has its own benefits, but each is also limited. Plan the use of games carefully so to take advantage of many different possibilities. VARIETY: SOCIAL CONTEXT Whole class games (quizzes, guessing mimes, guessing drawings on the board…) Groups (all above + role plays, cumulative games like topic alphabets, chaining games, … …). Pairs (matching card games, same/different picture descriptions, picture dictations, map direction activities, etc). VARIETY: MATERIALS paper and pencils board and dice games cards puppets realia VARIETY: PROCESS Physically active (run to the, pass the ball, … ) Sedentary (most other games mentioned above) VARIETY: STRATEGY Collaborative (needing social skills to avoid problems with dominant/shy learners). Competitive (requiring speed and fluency). Luck (a very important component so that the loser don’t feel so bad about losing) VARIETY: PURPOSE Revise lexical items. Activate sentence making. Increase fluency through speed. CONCLUSION Games are a necessary part of a teacher’s repertoire of classroom activities. It is important that they are used purposefully and that learners are aware of that purpose. The fun element is important as a motivational device, but the reason for using them is to promote learning.