What's the difference between a game and an exercise?

children playing a game to learn English
23 Aug Shelley Vernon No Comments

I received a question today about the difference between an exercise and a game. It seems to me that an exercise is just a drill, there is no game element. An exercise does not purport to be fun, whereas a game does.


The element of fun might be to go against the clock or to compete with other participants, individually or in teams, but a game does not have to be competitive. For instance, take the game Hot Potato. In this game there is no competition. Students pass objects around the classroom, repeating a phrase or word each time they pass something. When the teacher says, "stop", all those students with an object perform a silly forfeit, such as a dance, pretending to be a chicken, hopping on the spot ten times, or whatever.


Fun learning is more effective than dull learning, because students are more involved and motivated. Most of my games for children are disguised drills or exercises, but since they come in an attractive game package, children enjoy them and participate. As a consequence, pupils learn English more easily.


See my book 176 English Language Games for Children for great tips and games. It's in instant PDF download on this website, and in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

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