Using Games to Teach an Additional Language

If you want your learners to be engaged in a language lesson, get them active in a game. Games are not just to relieve boredom in a classroom. They can be effective learning tools to help learners retain difficult material. You don’t always need a lot of resources or room to make games work. Simple activities can be turned into games that get learners talking together in the new language, which adds to games’ communicative value.
Select a fun text that contains vocabulary and grammar structures that learners are learning or are already familiar with. It should be about a paragraph long. Tell your learners to put down their pencils and to concentrate because they need to listen closely.
Then read the text, and, next, ask learners to write down as much as they can recall. Put learners into small groups or pairs, and ask them to share what they wrote and to try to reconstruct the text. They should write down a new copy of as much of the text as they can. If learners need help, you could read the text more than once (no writing allowed while listening), or you can put some comprehension questions up on the board (or ask them aloud). Teams then submit their reconstructions to you, and you select a winner. The team with the draft that is the closest to the original text wins.
Story Prediction
Put learners into small groups or pairs. Read a short story to them, but don’t read all of it at once. Read just a few lines, and then tell learners to predict what comes next in the story. They should talk to their partners or group members to come up with a prediction. They can tell their predictions out loud, or write them on the board. Then when you read the rest of the story, they can see if they got their predictions were right. The satisfaction of being right makes this activity engaging.
You could also do this as a vocabulary predicting exercise where learners guess the next words in the story.
Board Race
Divide your class into two, three, or four teams, depending on the size of your class. One person from each team comes to the board. Write a topic at the top of the board. Learners have to write down a word related to the topic and then pass the marker or chalk to another person on their team, who then writes a new word related to the topic.
You can require them to write a certain number of words, or you could set a time limit and see which team got the most words. A team gets a point for each correct word. If you can’t read a word, or it’s not spelled correctly, it does not earn a point.
Word Race
Write about three to five sentences down. Use a different color for each sentence. Make copies for each team that you will have in the class. Remember to use different colors when you print the copies or write them out. Cut each sentence up, dividing between words. Put each sentence into a separate container, like a cup or hat. Each team races to put their sentences in the right order. The team that has all of the words in the right order wins the game.

L Norman

This article first appeared in Teacha! Magazine (1st Edition), read it here!

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