Using Games in the English Classroom

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Using Games in the English Classroom

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<p>UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL DE ASUNCINFACULTAD DE FILOSOFA</p> <p>INSTITUTO SUPERIOR DE LENGUASGENERAL PEDAGOGY</p> <p>Licenciatura en Lengua Inglesa</p> <p>USING GAMES IN THE ENGLISH CLASSROOM</p> <p>PAOLA CARDOZODIEGO AVILA2nd Course2012</p> <p>2. OUTLINE1. Cover page2. Outline3. Introduction4. What are games? 4.2 Advantages of games5. How to use games5.1 Which game to use? 5.2 When to use games6. Types of games6.1 Role-playing games6.1.1 What are role-playing games6.1.2. Types of role-playing games6.1.3 Benefits of Role-playing games for language learning6.2 Role-playing games in the English classroom7. Conclusion8. Works Cited</p> <p>3. IntroductionSome teachers believe that games are only good for one thing, which is having fun, however, games are quite useful when it comes to acquiring knowledge. They provide a non-stressful environment to learn, give students the opportunity of real communication and they have the ability to catch students attention. English teachers main aim is to make the language learning process similar to the mother tongue acquisition process, therefore, when this aim is taken into consideration, learning occurs naturally. For that same reason, teachers should take games advantages into account due to the fact that they are fun, relaxing and motivating. Moreover, games are fun with a purpose, they provide immediate feedback to the teachers and learners, they improve teamwork, they encourage students to interact with their peers and they bring real-world information, among other advantages. Furthermore, games help to develop communicative skills since some students might be good at writing but when it comes to speaking, they might present some problems.However, choosing a game is not easy; the teacher should take into account many factors in order to make that game he or she chose, work efficiently. Such factors are: the games difficulty, if it is easy to explain its rules, the level of your students, if your game helps to develop your students writing, speaking, reading or listening skills, among other factors. Here the reader will find enough information about the topic presented, as in types of games, advantages and benefits of them inside a classroom ,and of course, an explanation of how and when to add games to a teachers lesson plan. 4. What are games? Games used to teach language are not mostly directed to kill time that you have left or to break ice between your students. Games are a form of playing governed by rules. They should be enjoyed and fun, not just a diversion, a break from routine activities, but a way of getting the learner to use the language in the course of the game (Byrne, 1995 as cited in Deesri, 2002) They are activities with a set goal and rules with an extra element of fun (Jill Hadfield, 1990 as cited in Deesri, 2002), for that same reason, teachers should not use or see games as tools designed just for fun or as time fillers; they should integrate them into their lesson plans when it comes to foreign language teaching. (Yolageldl and Arikan, 2011)Games main approach inside a classroom is to help learners to have both, improve their knowledge and have fun while playing them; therefore, playing games involve several factors such as: competition, rules, group work, relaxation and learning itself. However, when it comes to rules, there should be only a few but a well-explained set of rules, also, demonstrations can be quite needy and helpful in order to make students understand the game and follow its rules. If that is not the case, they will neither understand the games purpose nor get its benefits that they should from that game. (Deesri, 2002) Also, while playing games, competition is quite important because it can encourage and stimulate students to want to participate in the activity since they will want to beat opposite teams. During the time they spend playing, they relax, have fun but also, they learn at the same time. Games which involve spelling and pronunciation help students acquire new vocabulary, so they realize that in order to make themselves understood and win the game, they have to speak or pronounce the words clearly. (Deesri, 2002)4.2 Advantages of games Games spur motivation and students get very absorbed in the competitive aspects of the games; moreover, they try harder at games that in other courses (Avedon, 1971 as cited in Deesri, 2002) Students become so competitive while playing because they want to score more points than the opposite team, to have their turn to play and of course, the opportunity to win; for those same reasons, students will not hesitate when it comes to participate in these kinds of activities and it also helps teachers to give students new ideas, knowledge and grammar. In other words, games help students to become motivated and willing to keep learning. (Deesri, 2002)Many students have a high level of stress because while learning they want to avoid as much as possible to commit any type of mistake (pronunciation, spelling, and so on) so students become quite anxious about being criticized and/or punished by their teachers when one of these situations happens. Therefore, games help reduce students stress and anxiety to learn unfamiliar or completely unknown words, phrases or grammatical structures, also, they help to increase positive feelings among students. (Crookal, 1990 as cited in Yolageldl and Arikan, 2011) While playing games, students seek for an efficient communication but at the same time, they do not worry about making mistakes nor try to correct themselves. Once this happens, students are not feeling uncomfortable and insecure in class so they can improve their natural speaking styles as well as their fluency. (Deesri, 2002)Another advantage is that teachers, by using games, can create different contexts which enable unconscious learning since students focus is on the message itself, not on the language. Hence, when learners pay attention to a game as an activity, they acquire language without being aware of it, as they did with their mother tongue. (Cross, 2000 as cited in Yolageldl and Arikan, 2011)There are also other advantages such as: games help students pay attention to a particular grammatical pattern, vocabulary items or structure and they can be used in any other language teaching situations with all skill areas involved (writing, listening, speaking and reading) Furthermore, it provides a healthy competition atmosphere inside the classroom while allowing the students to learn in a non-stressful situation, it can also involve the participation from both, fast and slow learners while providing and immediate feedback to the teacher. It is quite helpful because each game can be adjusted to fit learners language level and age. Moreover, games can transform a boring class into a challenging one since they capture students attention and participation. (McCallum, 1980as cited in Yolageldl and Arikan, 2011).Another way in which the teacher and the students benefit from the use of role-playing games in the classroom is by providing an environment that makes the students active learners and eager to learn. Many students find learning a foreign language to be boring, games motivate these students and it makes the class fun and dynamic, it relaxes students and they learn content even while not being fully-aware that they are learning. (Scott, 1990)Games are very valuable and useful for teachers for they can lower the students anxiety and help them make students learn without having them worry about learning the correct structure or using the correct vocabulary. Instead, students are able to just use the language without thinking about making mistakes. (Patel, 2009) (Phillips, 1994)5. How to use games5.1 Which game to use? Teachers have to take into account which game will be most appropriate and successful with their students in order to use it during a certain activity. However, there are some factors that they should consider, for example, if the level of the game fits students language level. Moreover, teachers should take into account as well learners characteristics: highly motivated to learn or not, if they are old or young, introverted or extroverted, among other factors. When it comes to teachers, they should be able to play with students and overact sometimes to help their students and make them want to join the activity. In other words, teachers should completely understand the games point and rules to make it work. However, it is not easy to find a specific game which compiles all of the teachers needed requirements, if that is the case, the game must be adapted. (Carrier, 1990 as cited in Deesri, 2002)When it comes to socializing, games permit participation and interaction among your students, which is quite important especially for young learners since they learn better when they interact with their classmates. For that same reason, teachers should consider choosing a game which requires interaction, physical action and participation because young learners tend to respond better to this type of activity. (McCallum, 1980 as cited in Yolageldl and Arikan, 2011) In addition to all these, there are still other factors such as if there are all the equipments needed, materials, the size of the classroom and the time available to develop the game; a teacher should consider all these factors while picking a game for his or her class because if that game is not the correct one, it may turn into a complete failure. (Yolageldl and Arikan, 2011).5.2 When to use gamesGames can be used in many different times and ways in the class. They can be used as a warm-up, main activity or a wrap-up depending on the content, level and on the preference of the teacher. There is no inappropriate time to use games, however the teacher should decide to use games when they think that the class will benefit more from the use of a game, and when they think that students will be interested in playing a game. (Patel, 2009) (Scott, 1990)6. Types of games6.1 Role-playing games6.1.1 What are role-playing gamesRole-playing games are games in which the teacher creates a setting and explains it to the students. Role-playing games are stories that are shaped by the players in which there is no defined way of winning or losing, or defined way of playing. These games are played mainly by language communication which is why they are very useful and important for learners of any language. In board games, card games and most types of games there are defined rules and steps the players need to take in order to get a prize or to finish the game. However, in role-playing games the objective is to tell a story and to make that story develop, all of this while having fun. Role-playing games are not competitive, players do not compete against each other but they join forces and work together to overcome obstacles and to reach an objective. Role-playing games are suitable for any age and they can be played in various genres, most of the time they are based on books or films. (Phillips, 1994)6.1.2. Types of role-playing gamesThere are many types of role-playing games and these can be played in countless genres. The most widely-used types of role-playing games are:Fantasy games: these games are based on legends and the stories contain characters who are magicians or warriors and they have to defeat monsters.Space games: these games are based on science fiction movies, the characters of space games are usually spacemen.Spy games: these games are based on spy literature or spy films such as James Bond or Get Smart. The characters are usually spies (or their companions), and Detective games: these are stories about detectives in which players have to solve mysteries by looking at the clues that are provided to them.And there are several other genres such as horror, super hero, western, time travel and more. (Phillips, 1994)6.1.3 Benefits of Role-playing games for language learningRole-playing games and activities have several characteristics that are beneficial for language learning. These games and activities give students the chance for real use of the language. (Phillips, 1994)Students can use the language while playing role-playing games in many ways. They can use the language they already know or they can practice new content and new grammatical structure with their peers, thus, actively learning. In any case, students always take advantage of role-playing games. (Phillips, 1994)There are several language and non-language based learning skills developed directly when students become involved with RPGs: Following Directions, Vocabulary, Research, Independent Study, Planning, Decision Making, Mental Exercise, Evaluation, Cooperation, Creativity, Imagination, Leadership, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Predicting Consequences, Spatial Reasoning, Taking Other Points of View, Asking Questions, Ethics, Prioritizing, Interrelated Learning and Continuity of Learning (Cardwell, 1993 as cited in Phillips, 1993).Role-playing games can help the student to change their attitude, behavior and self-concept. They can also increase their self-esteem and confidence. They also affect the way the students socialize and communicate with other students, help them develop writing skills and critical thinking. When playing these games students have to solve many problems and to figure out a way to survive. These games trigger their curiosity and it makes students ask themselves (and others) many questions. (Phillips, 1994)6.2 Role-playing games in the English classroomThere are many ways in which role-playing games can be used in the English classroom. (Phillips, 1994). For Conversational exercises or free conversation: in this case they are used as a base for class discussion, the teacher states a problem or scenario (fictional or real) and the students have to discuss and to try to look for solutions for that problem or scenario and the advantages, disadvantages and possible problems they may encounter. (Phillips, 1994)As an on-going writing exercises: students can create their own characters and scenarios and write about the characters, they decide the things their character would do, how the character would react, think, and so on. (Phillips, 1994)</p> <p>7. ConclusionGames are amazingly useful for the English class and the foreign language class in general. They can be fun and help students relax while learning. Not all games are appropriate for all levels and all classes.The teacher needs to choose carefully which game to use depending on the students, the content and they need to choose the correct timing for the use of games, otherwise games wont be as useful as they could be. The teacher needs to know the rules of the game and they need to prepare other activities in case there is a need to quit or dismiss the use of the game.Role-playing games are very useful for many teachers and they can help students develop conversation skills, improve writing, and learn new vocabulary...</p>