Learning is a journey which cannot be completed in a short period of time; it is a lifelong process i.e. the more people learn the better they achieve personal, intellectual and professional growth, and gain social respect. When learning a language, most people wonder to guess the period that they need to become proficient, but the answer is unknown because it depends on different factors which should be investigated in order to improve the quality of learning. As any other branch of study, learning languages requires efforts and concentration, especially foreign languages, because in that case the learner is exposed to other elements in addition to grammar and vocabulary, the exposure is also in terms of culture. For that reason, learners face problems and difficulties, and it is the responsibility of instructors to help their learners find ways to solve learning problems or at least minimize them. Research findings indicate that learning a foreign language is not an easy task for learners who find themselves exposed to other components not only linguistic ones. Being exposed to a foreign language with its cultural aspects will certainly lead to learning difficulties which are considered as normal because they are part of the learning process. Learners differ in their potential and abilities that is why they differ when it comes to difficulties; some of them reach fluency as well as literacy and seem to learn with a certain ease within a few years, while others encounter problems; so the degree of difficulty differs from one learner to another depending on different variations. Research also shows that learning a foreign language entails a number of difficulties, all of which can be reduced through teachers’ attempts. For example grammar can be difficult for learners in the sense that it is different from that of the native language. English is becoming a widely used language, and through it, one can participate in a variety of social activities, because language is more than simply a way of expression, it helps people form relationships and know how to interact in different social contexts depending on sociolinguistic situations. English is one of the most important languages of the world
»Language learning is a hard task which can sometimes be frustrating. Constant effort is required to understand, produce and manipulate the target language. Well-chosen games are invaluable as they give students a break and at the same time allow students to practise language skills. Games are highly motivating since they are amusing and at the same time challenging. Furthermore, they employ meaningful and useful language in real contexts. They also encourage and increase cooperation. Language learning is hard work … Effort is required at every moment and must be maintained over a long period of time.
a) The importance of the game
Games help and encourage many learners to sustain their interest and work. Games are highly motivating because they are amusing and interesting. They can be used to give practice in all language skills and be used to practice
many types of communication.
Games also help the teacher to create contexts in which the language is useful and meaningful. The learners want to take part and in order to do so must understand what others are saying or have written, and they must speak or write in order to express their own point of view or give information.
The need for meaningfulness in language learning has been accepted for some years. A useful interpretation of ‘meaningfulness’ is that the learners respond to the content in a definite way. If they are amused, angered, intrigued or surprised the content is clearly meaningful to them. Thus the meaning of the language they listen to, read, speak and write will be more vividly experienced
and, therefore, better remembered.
If it is accepted that games can provide intense and meaningful practice of language, then they must be regarded as central to a teacher’s repertoire. They are thus not for use solely on wet days and at the end of term!
Games and fun activities are a vital part of teaching English as a foreign language. Whether you’re teaching adults or children, games will liven up your lesson and ensure that your students will leave the classroom wanting more.
There is a common perception that all learning should be serious and solemn in nature, and that if one is having fun and there is hilarity and laughter, then it is not really learning. This is a misconception. It is possible to learn a language as well as enjoy oneself at the same time. One of the best ways of doing this is
There are many advantages of using games in the classroom:
1. Games are a welcome break from the usual routine of the language class.
2. They are motivating and challenging.
3. Learning a language requires a great deal of effort. Games help students to make and sustain the effort of learning.
4. Games provide language practice in the various skills- speaking, writing, listening and reading.
5. They encourage students to interact and communicate.
6. They create a meaningful context for language use.’
Games can be used to warm up the class before your lesson begins, during the lesson to give students a break when you’re tackling a tough subject, or at the end of class when you have a few minutes left to kill. There are literally hundreds, probably thousands, of games that you can play with your students. EFL games are used to test vocabulary, practice conversing, learn tenses — the list is endless. ‘In an effort to supplement lesson plans in the ESL classroom, teachers often turn to games. The justification for using games in the classroom has been well demonstrated as benefiting students in a variety of ways. These benefits range from cognitive aspects of language learning to more co-operative group dynamics.
General Benefits of Games
— lowers affective filter
— encourages creative and spontaneous use of language
— promotes communicative competence
— reviews and extends
— focuses on grammar communicatively
— student centered
— teacher acts only as facilitator
— builds class cohesion
— fosters whole class participation
— promotes healthy competition
— easily adjusted for age, level, and interests
— utilizes all four skills
— requires minimum preparation after development
Many experienced textbook and methodology manuals writers have argued that games are not just time-filling activities but have a great educational value. W. R. Lee holds that most language games make learners use the language instead of thinking about learning the correct forms (1979:2). He also says that games should be treated as central not peripheral to the foreign language teaching programme. A similar opinion is expressed by Richard-Amato, who believes games to be fun but warns against overlooking their pedagogical value, particularly in foreign language teaching. «Games can lower anxiety, thus making the acquisition of input more likely» (Richard-Amato 1988:147). They are highly motivating and entertaining, and they can give shy students more opportunity to express their opinions and feelings (Hansen 1994:118). They also enable learners to acquire new experiences within a foreign language which are not always possible during a typical lesson. Furthermore, to quote Richard-Amato, they, «add diversion to the regular classroom activities,» break the ice, «[but also] they are used to introduce new ideas» (1988:147). In the easy, relaxed atmosphere which is created by using games, students remember things faster and better (Wierus and Wierus 1994:218). S. M. Silvers says many teachers are enthusiastic about using games as «a teaching device,» yet they often perceive games as mere time-fillers, «a break from the monotony of drilling» or frivolous activities. He also claims that many teachers often overlook the fact that in a relaxed atmosphere, real learning takes place, and students use the language they have been exposed to and have practised earlier (1982:29). Further support comes from Zdybiewska, who believes games to be a good way of practising language, for they provide a model of what learners will use the language for in real life in the future (1994:6).
Games encourage, entertain, teach, and promote fluency. If not for any of these reasons, they should be used just because they help students see beauty in a foreign language and not just problems that at times seem overwhelming.
When to Use Games
Games are often used as short warm-up activities or when there is some time left at the end of a lesson. Yet, as Lee observes, a game «should not be regarded as a marginal activity filling in odd moments when the teacher and class have nothing better to do» (1979:3). Games ought to be at the heart of teaching foreign languages. Rixon suggests that games be used at all stages of the lesson, provided that they are suitable and carefully chosen.’
Games also lend themselves well to revision exercises helping learners recall material in a pleasant, entertaining way. All authors referred to in this article agree that even if games resulted only in noise and entertained students, they are still worth paying attention to and implementing in the classroom since they motivate learners, promote communicative competence, and generate fluency.
Why Use Games in Class Time?
* Games are fun and children like to play them. Through games children experiment, discover, and interact with their environment. (Lewis, 1999)
* Games add variation to a lesson and increase motivation by providing a plausible incentive to use the target language. For many children between four and twelve years old, especially the youngest, language learning will not be the key motivational factor. Games can provide this stimulus. (Lewis, 1999)
* The game context makes the foreign language immediately useful to the children. It brings the target language to life. (Lewis, 1999)
* The game makes the reasons for speaking plausible even to reluctant children. (Lewis, 1999)
* Through playing games, students can learn English the way children learn their mother tongue without being aware they are studying; thus without stress, they can learn a lot.
* Even shy students can participate positively.
How to Choose Games (Tyson, 2000)
* A game must be more than just fun.
* A game should involve «friendly» competition.
* A game should keep all of the students involved and interested.
* A game should encourage students to focus on the use of language rather than on the language itself.
* A game should give students a chance to learn, practice, or review specific language material
b) Types of the games
This list of ten classic ESL games every teacher should know will help get you started and feeling prepared. Having these up your sleeve before stepping into the classroom will ensure your lessons run smoothly, and, should things get a little out of control, you’ll be able to pull back the attention of the class in no time.
There isn’t an EFL teacher I know who doesn’t use this game in the classroom. Board Race is a fun game that is used for revising vocabulary, whether it be words from the lesson you’ve just taught or words from a lesson you taught last week. It can also be used at the start of the class to get students active. It is a great way of testing what your students already know about the subject you’re about to teach.
• Why use it? Revising vocabulary; grammar
• Who it’s best for: Appropriate for all levels and ages
How to play:
First, watch this helpful video of real teachers using this game in the classroom.
This is best played with 6 students or more — the more, the better. I’ve used it in classes ranging from 7-25 years of age and it’s worked well in all age groups. Here’s a step by step explanation:
• Split the class into two teams and give each team a colored marker.
• If you have a very large class, it may be better to split the students into teams of 3 or 4.
• Draw a line down the middle of the board and write a topic at the top.
• The students must then write as many words as you require related to the topic in the form of a relay race.
• Each team wins one point for each correct word. Any words that are unreadable or misspelled are not counted.
Call My Bluff / Two Truths and A Lie
Call My Bluff is a fun game which is perfect at the start of term as a ‘getting to know you’ kind of game. It is also a brilliant ice breaker between students if you teach classes who do not know one another — and especially essential if you are teaching a small class size.
The game is excellent for practicing speaking skills, though make sure you save a time for after the game to comment on any mistakes students may have made during the game. (I generally like to reserve this for after the game, so you don’t disrupt their fluency by correcting them as they speak).
With older groups you can have some real fun and you might be surprised what you’ll learn about some of your students when playing this particular EFL game.
• Why use it? Ice-breaker; Speaking skills
• Who it’s best for: Appropriate for all levels and ages but best with older groups
How to play:
• Write 3 statements about yourself on the board, two of which should be lies and one which should be true.
• Allow your students to ask you questions about each statement and then guess which one is the truth. You might want to practice your poker face before starting this game!
• If they guess correctly then they win.
• Extension: Give students time to write their own two truths and one lie.
• Pair them up and have them play again, this time with their list, with their new partner. If you want to really extend the game and give students even more time to practice their speaking/listening skills, rotate partners every five minutes.
• Bring the whole class back together and have students announce one new thing they learned about another student as a recap.
3. Simon Says
This is an excellent game for young learners. Whether you’re waking them up on a Monday morning or sending them home on a Friday afternoon, this one is bound to get them excited and wanting more. The only danger I have found with this game is that students never want to stop playing it.
• Why use it? Listening comprehension; Vocabulary; Warming up/winding down class
• Who it’s best for: Young learners
How to Play:
• Stand in front of the class (you are Simon for the duration of this game).
• Do an action and say Simon Says [action]. The students must copy what you do.
• Repeat this process choosing different actions — you can be as silly as you like and the sillier you are the more the children will love you for it.
• Then do an action but this time say only the action and omit ‘Simon Says’. Whoever does the action this time is out and must sit down.
• The winner is the last student standing.
• To make it harder, speed up the actions. Reward children for good behavior by allowing them to play the part of Simon.
Word Jumble Race
This is a great game to encourage team work and bring a sense of competition to the classroom. No matter how old we are, we all love a good competition and this game works wonders with all age groups. It is perfect for practicing tenses, word order, reading & writing skills and grammar.
• Why use it? Grammar; Word Order; Spelling; Writing Skills
• Who it’s best for: Adaptable to all levels/ages
How to play:
This game requires some planning before the lesson.
• Write out a number of sentences, using different colors for each sentence. I suggest having 3-5 sentences for each team.
• Cut up the sentences so you have a handful of words.
• Put each sentence into hats, cups or any objects you can find, keeping each separate.
• Split your class into teams of 2, 3, or 4. You can have as many teams as you want but remember to have enough sentences to go around.
• Teams must now put their sentences in the correct order.
• The winning team is the first team to have all sentences correctly ordered.
This classic game is a favorite for all students but it can get boring quite quickly. This game is best used for 5 minutes at the start to warm the class up or 5 minutes at the end if you’ve got some time left over. It works no matter how many students are in the class.
• Why use it? Warming up / winding down class
• Who it’s best for: Young learners
How to play:
In case you’ve never played, here’s a quick rundown.
• Think of a word and write the number of letters on the board using dashes to show many letters there are.
• Ask students to suggest a letter. If it appears in the word, write it in all of the correct spaces. If the letter does not appear in the word, write it off to the side and begin drawing the image of a hanging man.
• Continue until the students guess the word correctly (they win) or you complete the diagram (you win).
This is another game that works well with any age group; children love it because they can get creative in the classroom, teenagers love it because it doesn’t feel like they’re learning, and adults love it because it’s a break from the monotony of learning a new language — even though they’ll be learning as they play.
Pictionary can help students practice their vocabulary and it tests to see if they’re remembering the words you’ve been teaching.
• Why use it? Vocabulary
• Who it’s best for: All ages; best with young learners
How to play:
• Before the class starts, prepare a bunch of words and put them in a bag.
• Split the class into teams of 2 and draw a line down the middle of the board.
• Give one team member from each team a pen and ask them to choose a word from the bag.
• Tell the students to draw the word as a picture on the board and encourage their team to guess the word.
• The first team to shout the correct answer gets a point.
• The student who has completed drawing should then nominate someone else to draw for their team.
• Repeat this until all the words are gone — make sure you have enough words that each student gets to draw at least once!
Miming is an excellent way for students to practice their tenses and their verbs. It’s also great for teachers with minimal resources or planning time, or teachers who want to break up a longer lesson with something more interactive. It’s adaptable to almost any language point that you might be focusing on.
This game works with any age group, although you will find that adults tire of this far quicker than children. To keep them engaged, relate what they will be miming to your groups’ personal interests as best as possible.
• Why use it? Vocabulary; Speaking
• Who it’s best for: All ages; best with young learners
How to play:
• Before the class, write out some actions — like washing the dishes — and put them in a bag.
• Split the class into two teams.
• Bring one student from each team to the front of the class and one of them choose an action from the bag.
• Have both students mime the action to their team.
• The first team to shout the correct answer wins a point.
• Repeat this until all students have mimed at least one action.
Hot Seat allows students to build their vocabulary and encourages competition in the classroom. They are also able to practice their speaking and listening skills and it can be used for any level of learner.
• Why use it? Vocabulary; Speaking and Listening
• Who it’s best for: All ages and levels
How to play:
• Split the class into 2 teams, or more if you have a large class.
• Elect one person from each team to sit in the Hot Seat, facing the classroom with the board behind them.
• Write a word on the board. One of the team members of the student in the hot seat must help the student guess the word by describing it. They have a limited amount of time and cannot say, spell or draw the word.
• Continue until each team member has described a word to the student in the Hot Seat.
Where Shall I Go?
This game is used to test prepositions of movement and should be played after this subject has been taught in the classroom. This game is so much fun but it can be a little bit dangerous since you’ll be having one student in each pair be blindfolded while the other directs them. So make sure to keep your eyes open!
It is also excellent for the adult EFL classroom, or if you’re teaching teenagers.
• Why use it? Prepositions; Speaking and Listening
• Who it’s best for: All ages and levels
How to play:
• Before the students arrive, turn your classroom into a maze by rearranging it. It’s great if you can do this outside, but otherwise push tables and chairs together and move furniture to make your maze.
• When your students arrive, put them in pairs outside the classroom. Blindfold one student from each pair.
• Allow pairs to enter the classroom one at a time; the blindfolded student should be led through the maze by their partner. The students must use directions such as step over, go under, go up, and go down to lead their partner to the end of the maze.
What’s My Problem?
This is a brilliant EFL game to practice giving advice. It should be played after the ‘giving advice’ vocabulary lesson has taken place. It is a great way for students to see what they have remembered and what needs reviewing. This game works well with any age group, just adapt it to fit the age you’re working with.
• Why use it? Speaking and Listening; Giving Advice
• Who it’s best for: All ages and levels
How to play:
• Write ailments or problems related to your most recent lesson on post-it notes and stick one post-it note on each student’s back.
• The students must mingle and ask for advice from other students to solve their problem.
• Students should be able to guess their problem based on the advice they get from their peers.
• Use more complicated or obscure problems to make the game more interesting for older students. For lower levels and younger students, announce a category or reference a recent lesson, like «Health», to help them along.
These games will keep your students engaged and happy as they learn! Remember, these are just ten on the hundreds of different EFL games that you can plat with your students. As you get more confident in the classroom, you can start putting your own spin on games and eventually make up your own.
Whatever the age of your students, they’re guaranteed to love playing EFL games in the classroom. An EFL classroom should be fun, active and challenging and these games are sure to get you heading in the right direction.
What games do you love to play with your ESL students? Let us know in the comments!
What are Circle Games?
Circle games are any games or activity that involve the whole class, sitting in a circle. Many of the games recycle vocabulary and involve an element of fun. I would like to outline a selection of my favourite circle games that can be used in young learner and adult classes. Some of the ideas were given to me by colleagues or they are classic children’s party games which have been adapted to the English language classroom. I do not claim to have invented them all myself!
Why and When?
Nowadays, in the world of EFL, pair work and work in small groups is very much in fashion. The communicative approach encourages teachers to use a lot of pair work and therefore increase ‘student talking time’. I believe that for a group to gel and for a good group dynamic to prevail there are times when the class should work together as a whole. Circle games are a good opportunity to bring the group together. I tend to use them to start or end a class. They can be used as warmers at the beginning of a class or as a ‘filler’ at the end.
Several of the activities, such as Chain Drawings and Consequences are great for when you have to do a last minute substitution class for a colleague. Very little material is required, they’re suitable for all levels and a lot of language can be generated.
Managing circle games with young learners
Circle games can be incorporated into the regular routine of a young learner class.
If students are introduced to the idea of working in a whole group from the beginning of a course it is easier to establish the rules and acceptable behaviour for this type of activity.
They should be seen by the students as a normal part of the class and clear parameters should be set as to what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour when participating in a circle game.
If you have never used any circle games and want to start, set up the class before the students arrive and begin the class with one of the simple activities. It may make a nice change and it also gives you an opportunity to greet each student on arrival and do the register.
Speak to young learners about the importance of listening to fellow students and respecting each other’s talking time and turns. To calm lively students and focus them, try some basic TPR activities which demand their concentration. For example, «if you’re ready to start the activity, touch your nose», «if you’re ready to start the game, point to the door».
When students get to know the routine and the activities you can nominate one of them to start the game and lead it.
• Give each student a piece of paper and some coloured pencils.
• Tell them that you are going to play some music and you want them to draw whatever comes into their heads.
• As music is playing, all students should be drawing.
• After 20 or 30 seconds, stop the music.
• Students stop drawing and pass their picture to the person to the left of them in the circle.
• Play the music again and they continue with the drawing the person next to them had started.
• Stop the music again, pass pictures on and this continues until the end of the song.
• When you have finished each student will have a picture that several students contributed to.
• Then it’s up to you what to do with the pictures.
o They can be used to describe to the group, to write a story about, or to pretend they were a dream the student had last night.
o The rest of the class can try to analyse the meaning of the dream.
• Use different types of music to get different types of pictures. I’ve found that reggae and samba produce happy beach scenes and dance music gets futuristic city scenes!
• If you want to ‘force’ the pictures towards a topic you are studying, ask some questions about the topic first and get students into thinking about the theme. Beware — with teenagers this activity can be quite an eye-opener as it tends to reveal what is going on in their minds!
One word stories
For higher-level groups this can be really fun.
• Each student adds a word to create a group story.
• The teacher can begin by saying the first word and in a circle each student adds the next word, without repeating what has come beforehand.
• Good starting words are «Suddenly» or «Yesterday» to force the story into the past tense.
• It is great for highlighting word collocations and practising word order. The stories can develop in any number of ways. Some groups may need the teacher to provide punctuation and decide that the sentence should end and a new one should begin.
Change places if……
This is a TPR activity with students in a closed circle, with the teacher in the middle to begin the game.
• There should always be one less chair than participants.
• Depending on what you want to revise the teacher says, «Change places if …… you’re wearing trainers.»
• All students who are wearing trainers must stand up, and move to another chair and the teacher should sit on one of the recently vacated seats.
• The person left without a seat stays in the middle and gives the next command, «Change places if you …… like pizza» and so it goes on.
Young learners can get very excited, so be careful to incorporate this activity in the class at an appropriate time. It is a definitely a ‘warmer’ as opposed to a ‘cooler’ and may be better at the end of a class
• Each student needs a piece of paper and a pencil.
• Make sure students have their paper in portrait (not landscape) and ask students to draw a hat at the top in the middle. When they have finished they should draw two short lines to show where the head begins and then fold over the paper leaving only the two short lines showing.
• Students then pass the folded paper to their right and the teacher instructs them to draw a face and neck.
• Students fold, leaving the two lines of the neck peeping out from the fold. Instruct students to draw the body, to the waist. Fold and pass as before.
• Then they draw to the knees, then fold and pass, then to the feet.
• It’s important to tell students not to cheat and peep at the folded part of the body. That will spoil the fun!
• Students then unfold the paper and reveal the misfit type character they have created between them.
• Use the pictures to practise describing people, revise clothes vocabulary or to create role plays.
Similar to picture consequences in the way the activity is conducted but this one creates a story.
• At each stage, before folding and passing to the student on the right, give these instructions.
1. Write the name of a man. It can be a famous man or a man everyone in the class knows. (Depending on the group, allow them to put the names of class mates)
2. Write the name of a woman. It can be a famous woman or a woman everyone in the class knows. (Depending on the group, allow them to put the names of class mates)
3. Write the name of a place where the two people meet.
4. When they meet, he says something to her. What does he say? Students write what he says to her.
5. She replies to the man. What does she say?
6. What’s the consequence of this encounter? What happens?
7. What’s the opinion of the whole story? What does the world say as a comment?
• The end result is a mixed-up story that can often be amusing.
• Read yours as an example of how you want the students to tell the story.
• Then invite students one by one to unfold their stories and read them to the group.
• Depending on the level you can encourage use of connectors, reported speech etc.
• These games involve the learners sitting in a circle and working as a whole class. See the related think article — Think — Methodology — Circle games — for advice on how to manage these games and for more activity ideas.
Conditional chain game
This game is good to revise and practise structures in the first conditional.
• The teacher begins with a sentence, for example «If I go out tonight, I’ll go to the cinema.»
• The next person in the circle must use the end of the previous sentence to begin their own sentence. E.g. «If I go to the cinema, I’ll watch The Last Samurai» The next person could say, «If I watch The Last Samurai, I’ll see Tom Cruise» etc. etc.
A very simple game where students must think of words connected to the word that comes before.
• For example, the teacher says, «Fish», the next person thinks of a word they associate with fish, such as «water», the next person could say «a glass» the next, «window» etc.
• You can decide as a group if associations are valid. Ask the student to justify the connection.
• To make it more competitive, set a thinking time limit and eliminate students.
• When they are eliminated they can become judges.
Chinese whispers — telephone lines
A sentence is whispered around the circle. The last student to receive the message either says it aloud or writes it on the board. This can be a fun way to introduce a topic and activate schema at the beginning of a class. For example, for a class on food, whisper the question, «What did you have for lunch today?» Equally, at the end of a class it can be a nice way to revise structures or vocabulary from the lesson.
• To begin with, students sit in a circle and do the hand actions of lap (both hands to lap), clap, left click, right click.
• When they get the hang of it, add these words in time to the rhythm «Concentration, concentration, concentration now beginning, are you ready? If so, let’s go!»
• On the first finger click, you say your name, and on the second click you say the name of someone in the circle.
• You have passed the turn to the person you nominated on your second finger click.
• Then they say their own name on the first click and the name of another student on the second.
• When they have got the idea, use lexical sets. For example, everyone says their favourite sport first then use these to play the game.
• For a competitive group, eliminate those students who make mistakes.
I went to the shops and I bought…
The classic memory game where each person adds a new item to the list in alphabetical order.
• For example, student 1, «I went to the shops and I bought an apple». Student 2, «I went to the shops and I bought an apple and a bike». Student 3, «I went to the shops and I bought an apple, a bike and a coat».
• This game can be adapted to different levels and lexical sets. I recently revised sports and the use of do/ play/ go by playing «I went to the sports centre……», the same game but using different vocabulary. For example, student 1 «I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics», «I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics and played basketball», «I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics, played basketball and went canoeing» etc.
Yes / No game
• Nominate one student to be in the hot seat, slightly apart from the rest of the circle.
• The rest of the group must think of questions to ask the student in the hot seat.
• They can ask anything they like, the only rule is that the student in the hot seat must answer the questions without using the words «yes» or «no».
• Also ban «yeah», head nods and shakes! For example, a student asks, «Are you wearing jeans today?» The student in the hot seat could reply, «I am» or «you can see that they’re jeans!»
Find a Person Who….
Build confidence by starting with a comprehension game. There is less speaking involved, but everyone will have to pay attention, understand what is being said, and interact with the class. Have everybody begin in a big circle. The teacher calls out:
“Find a person who is wearing glasses.”
Everyone runs to grab the hand of a person wearing glasses. Assuming each student has two hands, only two people can be partnered with each glasses wearer.
Whoever is left without a hand to hold stands in the middle. The youngest one of the middle group must now call at the next turn. Possibilities are endless! Find a person who:
• Is wearing red.
• Has words on his/her shirt.
• Can curl his/her tongue.
• Can touch the floor without bending knees.
The teacher can have a prepared list of finds or can ask the students to make up their own.
The shy person either must be quick to follow the English instructions or find themselves in the middle, where must take a turn at calling out the next “Find a Person.” Either way, all students are engaged.
Don’t worry about the more vocal students taking over. Every student gets to be the leader and judge in this game. If you’ve played the game Balderdash, you’ll recognize Dictionary.
Divide your class up into groups of five or six. If your class has fewer than ten students, you might be able to play with everyone at once.
Give each group a packet of sticky notes and the biggest dictionary that you can find. You can also create your own advanced vocabulary list for the class to use.
For each group, select a leader and a judge. You can pick the most shy students to steer the group. The leader finds a word in the dictionary (or vocab list) that he or she does not believe anyone else knows. The leader writes the correct definition of the word on the sticky note. Then, he or she spells the word out loud, and everyone except the judge will write the word down.
The other players make up definitions of their own and write them on sticky notes as well. They can be funny and come up with a silly definition. They can try to guess the correct definition. They can try to fool the judge with something that sounds convincing.
The leader collects all the definitions and hands them over to the judge. The judge reads each definition out loud. If your judge has a flair for the dramatic, all the better.
After reading all the definitions, the judge decides which definition he or she thinks is correct.
The leader identifies which answer is really correct. If the judge picks the leader’s answer, then the leader gets a piece of candy or other token. If the judge picks another player’s answer, then the player gets the candy.
Here’s a rundown of how this might play out:
The leader picks the word “sundry.” She tells all the players the word and spells it for them.
The leader writes the correct definition on her note, “miscellaneous.”
Another player thinks about literal meaning and writes, “wet clothes left outside.
Another player guesses and writes, “popcorn.”
Another player decides to be silly and writes, “lying to your teacher.”
The leader mixes up the definitions and hands them over to the judge. The judge reads each definition out loud, and if all goes well, everyone gets a good laugh out of this. The judge in this case decides he likes the “wet clothes left outside” definition. The leader awards the player who wrote this definition with the candy and explains that the correct definition is miscellaneous.
The roles switch up and the judge becomes leader in the next round.
Play as many rounds as you can so that every student has a chance to be the judge and the leader.
The nice thing about Dictionary is that you can adapt to most English learning levels. And students who are shy about speaking out loud in class may be more comfortable in these smaller groups.
What Sweet Treat Am I?
Don’t want to produce waste with your games? Now you can make use of all the candy wrappers you have left over from Dictionary.
Get as many different kinds of candy as you have students in class. Make sure it’s candy that they’re familiar with. Tape the wrapper to each student’s back and put the students all in a circle.
The first player stands up and turns around so everyone can see the wrapper. The player can ask the group yes or no questions to get clues, for example:
• Is it red?
• Does it taste like strawberries?
• Does it have chocolate?
• Is it crunchy?
It’s up to you as the teacher to decide how many questions the player can ask before having to guess name of the sweet treat.
This game works very well with upper beginning and intermediate students, and students of all ages generally like candy. Because all students participate, your shy students cannot hide. The game, however, is simple and fun so they may relax and enjoy it.
You can combine this ESL activity with a lesson on polite ways to ask someone to repeat a question.
Balloon Truth or Dare
This is the classic truth or dare game with a slight twist which makes it ideal for language learning. Students will have the choice to pick whether to answer a personal question, a truth, or to do something silly, a dare.
The key here is to pick student-friendly options. Write down on small strips of paper dares that most students probably would be willing to do and questions most would be willing to answer. You can adapt the statements using vocabulary and grammar at the level you’re teaching.
• Dance a popular dance.
• Sing a class song solo.
• Pretend like you’re riding a horse.
• Snore or snort.
• Make a sound like a chicken.
You can really have fun and dare the students to act out one of the animals or their favorite scene from Hercules.
Teaching English especially to non-native speakers is not an easy task to do. It is a long process which may be influenced by different issues. However, the effective teacher is the one who knows what to teach, how to teach and how to react to any educational situation. To teach English as a foreign language, one needs first to consider his/her learners as social beings because each learner is an individual, who is characterized by a personality and by social traits which may influence the process of learning
Games have been shown to have advantages and effectiveness in learning vocabulary in various ways. First, games bring in relaxation and fun for students, thus help them learn and retain new words more easily. Second, games usually involve friendly competition and they keep learners interested. These create the motivation for learners of English to get involved and participate actively in the learning activities. Third, vocabulary games bring real world context into the classroom, and enhance students’ use of English in a
flexible, communicative way.
Therefore, the role of games in teaching and learning vocabulary cannot be denied. However, in order to achieve the most from vocabulary games, it is essential that suitable games are chosen. Whenever a game is to be conducted, the number of students, proficiency level, cultural context, timing, learning topic, and the classroom settings are factors that should be taken into account.
In conclusion, learning vocabulary through games is one effective and interesting way that can be applied in any classrooms. The results of this research suggest that games are used not only for mere fun, but more importantly, for the useful practice and review of language lessons, thus leading toward the goal of improving learners’ communicative competence.
Games for Language Learning’ (2nd. Ed.)
by Andrew Wright, David Betteridge and Michael Buckby.
Cambridge University Press, 1984.
(To read the articles below in full, click on the titles.)
‘Six Games for the EFL/ESL Classroom’
by Aydan Ersoz.
The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 6, June 2000.
‘Creative Games for the Language Class’
by Lee Su Kim.
‘Forum’ Vol. 33 No 1, January — March 1995, Page 35.
‘The Use of Games For Vocabulary Presentation and Revision’
by Agnieszka Uberman.
‘Forum’ Vol. 36 No 1, January — March 1998 Page 20.
‘Learning Vocabulary Through Games’
by Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen and Khuat Thi Thu Nga.
‘Asian EFL Journal’ — December 2003