There are many ways to teach ESL/TEFL to children but one of the most exciting and rewarding ways to do it is by using games. Fun ESL games not only engage the children, but also teach through play – and most of the time the children don’t even know they are learning until it comes time to show their knowledge. It truly is possible (and almost necessary) to create a classroom where the students not only learn but also enjoy their time there.
Learning is quicker, retention is improved
According to Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen and Khuat Thi Thu Nga, authors of Learning Vocabulary Through Games: The Effectiveness of Learning Through Games, Interviewed teacher reported that their students seemed tolearn new vocabulary more quickly and retain it better when it was applied in a relaxed and comfortable environment such as while playing ESL games. Since building vocabulary is the basis of learning how to speak, understand and read a language this shows that incorporating esl games into the classroom can do many things to increase your students' success across the board.
Building Interest in Class
As teachers, we all know that some students just don't want to be in our class and even the best students can get bored or lose focus on occasion. Including games is a great way to get out of the rut of language drills, worksheets, boring repetition and individual study. Fun ESL games are a great way to revive students' interest in the class and often also help them absorb and retain more information than if they are simply studying to pass a test or complete an assignment.
Karen DeBord, an Extension Specialist for Rural Child Care at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University-Blacksburg explains how competition can help students learn more. As long as no one is forced to participate, competition can be positive and encourage player discovery, examination and learning. Creating the right type of games can foster this healthy, beneficial competition in the classroom.
Putting Language in useful and meaningful Context
Let's face it: it is one thing to memorize a bunch of vocabulary words or be able to recite the mechanics of a certain grammar rule, but actually putting these lessons to use is another story. Games solve for this because they allow you to engage the entire class in activities that require practical use – and they are fun which can translate to "meaningful" if you have the right types of esl games. When children get this meaningful and contextual practice, the language becomes more vivid in their minds and they are better able to remember what they have learned and used. In addition, the confidence children gain with speaking skills means that they are far more likely to go out into the real world and actually use the language they have learned. This is achieved through games using meaningful repetition, spontaneous use of the language, and having to think for themselves instead of being constantly spoon-fed.
Giving your pupils a break
Some children find it stressful learning a new language, so using esl games as a vehicle to teach grammar, vocabulary and the four skills can really help shy children come out of their shells and allow any tension to dissipate. Using the right games allows the teacher a chance to give the students a break from tedium or endless sitting, while maximizing the learning opportunities in the available time. The children will be so immersed in the activity that they will not even realize how much they are learning.
Creating a student/teacher bond
Finally, as a teacher I'm sure you want to build a bond with your students. Playing games does this in so many ways. You’ll be able to show yourself as a person, not just a teacher, as you cheer on and encourage your students to do well in the game. Playing fun esl games also creates a positive learning environment that allows children to enjoy themselves and their classmates. Furthermore, you can get to know your students on a more personal level when you play (or facilitate) a game with them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelley Vernon has inspired thousands of esl teachers with her games. Get her free games now to find out how to enjoy your time in class more, make your teaching fun and improve the effectiveness of your lessons by up to 80%. Receive the free games now! Fun ESL Games