ESL LEARNING THROUGH GAMES

by on November 18, 2015

Learning English as a second language is challenging but not impossible. Students are not only trying to master a new language but they are also learning unfamiliar subject-content. As such, instructors need to use methods that will veer away from spoon-feeding and instead engage students to experience the actual learning process. One such method is using games. Joanne Elliott, author of Interesting ESL Group Activities wrote that the best way to teach children English is to create an illusion that they are just playing games. Below are a few examples and their suggested applications.

“I like” game – The instructor will gather all the students in a big circle. One of the students will be asked to finish the statement “I like…” Then ask the next person to add an adjective and then the next person should add another appropriate adjective, and so on and so forth. For instance, after a couple of rounds, the statement will be “I like a delicious, light green, ice-cold, creamy ice cream. This is an ideal game for children up to the age of 10 to practice using words to describe a particular noun.

Word Association – The instructor needs to gather the students in a wide circle. A noun will be given and a person will be called who would then tell the group if it’s a common, proper, mass, count or collective noun. If the person gets it right, he or she would then give another noun and call another person to state what type of noun it is and so on and so forth. The instructor needs to encourage that the faster the pace the better since it will demonstrate the students’ mastery of nouns. This is ideal for students who are in the beginner level.

Dictionary Bingo – This game is best used to enhance students’ vocabulary. Each of them will be provided a card that has 20 squares containing definitions. The instructor will give a term and the students need to find the definition in their cards. Just like with the real bingo, the participants can win only be drawing a line vertically, horizontally or diagonally. The challenge however, is that they need to be able to identify the correct definition. This game will suit students who are already at the intermediate level.

Storytelling – The instructor needs to set up 3 boxes at the front of the room. The first box will contain slips of paper, each with a proper noun referring to a person. For example, policeman. The next box should contain slips referring to places, like swimming pool. The third box will be about verbs. For example, eating. The students will be asked to draw a slip from each of the box. Then they have to create a one-page story using the three words. This is an ideal way to reinforce lessons taught regarding syntax and semantics. This game is for advanced learners already.

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