Teachers who use games are organised strategists who know how to craft a well-formed outcome. Games have a goal, encourage participation, healthy competition, and fun. Fun gets the neurons charged up and ready to pack away deep learning into the long-term memory.
Most games involve speaking and multi-sensory tasks, and, for me, this is the most important thing. Developing fluency is the ultimate goal.
“I hear I forget. I see I understand and I do I remember.” A well-known Chinese proverb.
When I incorporate games into a lesson, the games are sure to have a language goal. That may be drilling grammar, practising vocabulary, story-telling, or even spelling practice. The only limit on this is imagination.
Using games does not detract from regular courses as they can be slipped into any kind of traditional lesson plan to break the ice, brainstorm, practise or collaborate. This does not waste time. In fact it saves time.
Games are also much more challenging to the mind and therefore engage higher level thinking skills. Whether students are trying to solve puzzles, find missing information or play the detective, their minds are fully engaged in both language production and strategic problem solving. That’s what we call whole-brain learning & optimal neuronal functioning.
If games help the class to get in sync, and the learners on task, difficult grammar or vocabulary can be internalised much faster as focus is better, right-brain functioning increases memory, and there is no boredom.
The alternatives are long-winded explanations, boring drills, over-reliance on text books, and too much homework.
Games also work in one-to-one lessons as students can compete against their previous record, for example.
As most of us were trained in left-brain methodologies where games were never emphasised we may find it hard to let go and introduce games into the class. However, once you do, you will never look back.
I have been collecting games for children and adults over the years and there are a lot of sources available on the internet. The more you use games as a teacher, the more creative you will get in designing your own too.
If you are a language learner who wants to improve both fluency (speaking skills) and grammatical accuracy, you will benefit form a general English course online that incorporates communicative games
Here are some examples of free grammar games.