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Vol 33 No 1, January - March 1995 Page 35

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MALAYSIA

Creative Games for the Language Class


by Lee Su Kim 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 through games.

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.

Many of us in the teaching profession use games occasionally in the classroom. Most of us are familiar with some of the more popular language games such as "Twenty Questions," "The Whispering Game," "Making a Sentence," "Asking Yes/No Questions" or "Kim's Game."

I would like to introduce to you some games which I have adapted from the radio and television for the language class. These games have been successfully tried out in class. The students thoroughly enjoyed themselves, whilst using and practising the language.

Just A Minute

The first game is called "Just a Minute" and it is adapted from a radio game show broadcast over the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It was aired over the BBC many years ago and was highly entertaining. This is how you play the game:

1. Divide your students into groups. Get each group to give themselves a name.

2. The objective of each group is to get as many points as possible.

3. The task is to speak on a topic for a minute. The referee (the teacher) will provide the topics.

4. The competition-members of the other groups-should try to "wrestle" the topic away from the person who is speaking on it. There are three ways to do this:

i. ii. iii.

Hesitation: When a student pauses for too long a break, it is considered a hesitation. Repetition: When a student keeps repeating a particular word or phrase, it is considered repetition. Deviation: When a student digresses, he can be faulted for deviation.

5. A timekeeper will ring the bell once the minute is up. The person who is speaking when the bell rings will win 10 points.

6. The group with the most points is the winner.

7. The teacher should determine the topics based upon the students' level of proficiency. Some examples of topics are:

My Childhood My Family My Favourite Things Ghosts My Ideal Partner Teenagers A Country I'd Like to Visit My Favourite Food If I Had Three Wishes, I'd Like . . .

The choice of topics would also depend on what is being taught in the lesson for the day. For example, if the teacher is conducting a lesson on describing people and places, s/he could provide topics such as My Mother, Someone I Admire, A Teacher I'll Never Forget, My Hometown, or My School.

This game is particularly suitable for teaching oral communication skills. It is also useful as a pre-writing or pre- reading activity. It can be effectively utilised when teaching topics such as describing, narrating, expressing viewpoints, agreeing, disagreeing, and describing procedures.

Win, Lose, or Draw

The second game is quite a well-known one. It is currently being aired on television in Malaysia, and is called "Win, Lose, or Draw." You can play it with as many teams as you like, preferably keeping it to a maximum of four or five teams.

Instead of giving the students the words to draw, I find it even more effective if you get the students to concoct the words themselves. The words should be "drawable," not too easy nor too difficult. Give the groups about 10-15 minutes to come up with the words; then the teacher should go round to the different groups to check out the words. Tick out those that are suitable and try and offer alternatives for those words that you consider unsuitable. Each topic should then be written out on a small piece of paper which can be rolled or folded up. Then, collect all the topics and place them in separate boxes in front of you.

The game is then played as follows:

1. Divide your class into groups. 2. Start with the first group. A member of the group should come to the front of the classroom and pick out a piece of paper containing a topic given by members of the other groups. S/he then has to draw the topic on the blackboard once the timekeeper gives the "begin" signal. 3. Appoint someone to keep time. A student has a maximum of 60 seconds to draw the object. This can vary according to your students' abilities. 4. The objective is to try to score as few points as possible. 5. The task is for group members to try to guess what the student is drawing in as little time as possible. 6. The student doing the drawing cannot talk, make any sound, nor act out the word. Only when his/her group members have guessed the word correctly, can s/he indicate or gesticulate that they have done so. 7. The teacher has to be alert and listen carefully whilst the students try to guess what their friend is drawing. Once they have guessed the topic correctly, the teacher stops the action. 8. The timekeeper announces the time taken and records it on the board.

9. After this, the next group takes its turn. The game can be played for many rounds. Students in each group should take turns drawing. 10. At the end of the game, the scores are tallied. The group with the fewest points is the winner.

This game is suitable for teaching vocabulary items, but phrases or sentences can also be given. For example, "singing in the rain," "a school of fish," "the fat woman fainted," "the ostrich kicked the zebra," "the spaceship landed on the moon," etc. Tenses and sentence structures can also be introduced through this game.

Conclusion

It is important that the language teacher be creative and innovative in his/her job. Dare to deviate occasionally from the humdrum routine and do something refreshing and different in the class. It does not require too much effort, and the rewards are plenty-the joy on the students' faces, the mirth, the hilarity, and the enthusiasm generated. Finally, when playing the game, teachers should be totally committed and enthusiastic.

This article is based on a paper-cum-demonstration presented atan international conference of the Malaysian English LanguageTeachers's Association on May 24-27, 1993, in Kuala Lumpur.

Lee Su Kim is a lecturer in ESL at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Selangor, where she teaches courses in writing and communication skills.

http://www.teflgames.com/why.html (08-07-2012 12:56 p.m) From 'Games for Language Learning'


by Andrew Wright, David Betteridge and Michael Buckby Cambridge University Press, 1984. 'Language learning is hard work ... Effort is required at every moment and must be maintained over a long period of time. Games help and encourage many learners to sustain their interest and work.' '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!' (from Introduction, p. 1)

From 'Six Games for the EFL/ESL Classroom'


by Aydan Ersoz The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 6, June 2000. '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.' '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.'

From 'Creative Games for the Language Class'

by Lee Su Kim 'Forum' Vol. 33 No 1, January - March 1995, Page 35. '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 through games.' '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.' .

From 'The Use of Games For Vocabulary Presentation and Revision'


by Agnieszka Uberman 'Forum' Vol. 36 No 1, January - March 1998 Page 20. Using Games '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. There are many advantages of using games. "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.'

From 'Learning Vocabulary Through Games'


by Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen and Khuat Thi Thu Nga 'Asian EFL Journal' - December 2003. '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.'

From 'Using Games in an EFL Class for Children'

by Yin Yong Mei and Jang Yu-jing Daejin University ELT Research Paper. Fall, 2000. 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.

From 'Index Cards: A Natural Resource for Teachers'


by M. Martha Lengeling and Casey Malarcher 'Forum' Vol. 35 No 4, October - December 1997 Page 42. '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 Affective: - lowers affective filter - encourages creative and spontaneous use of language - promotes communicative competence - motivates

- fun Cognitive: - reinforces - reviews and extends - focuses on grammar communicatively Class Dynamics: - student centered - teacher acts only as facilitator - builds class cohesion - fosters whole class participation - promotes healthy competition Adaptability: - easily adjusted for age, level, and interests - utilizes all four skills - requires minimum preparation after development

Publication Details: '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 'Using Games in an EFL Class for Children' by Yin Yong Mei and Jang Yu-jing. Daejin University ELT Research Paper. Fall, 2000. 'Index Cards: A Natural Resource for Teachers' by M. Martha Lengeling and Casey Malarcher 'Forum' Vol. 35 No 4, October - December 1997 Page 42

http://www.teflcorp.com/articles/84-tefl-games-in-the-classroom/262-games-in-the-esl-and-eflclassroom.html. In a traditional English language classroom the students curriculum focuses on grammar, reading, vocabulary and rigid repetitive drills. The majority of students I have spoken with find this method to be very dull and boring. If students are not interested in the subject being taught they will lack attention and motivation to learn the language. Language is used primarily to communicate with other people. What is the best method to learn a language? Throughout history people have played games to socialize and interact with each other. Therefore it seems reasonable to assume that playing games in a language classroom can only be beneficial. What does a game consist of? I think that games involve play, competition, rules, and enjoyment. The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines a game as an activity engaged in for diversion or amusement. Games dont have to be only a diversion but a way to get students to practice and use the language. Jill Hadfield (1990) defined games as an activity with rules, a goal and an element of fun. I agree that a game should be fun and enjoyable for the students. A happy student will be more motivated and eager to learn. Some teachers and institutions dont approve of games being used to teach English to students. Some reasons I have been told are that games take away from teacher instruction and they dont provide useful or proper practice for the students. The benefits and advantages of using games in the English language classroom elude them. Games are amusing, interesting and can be challenging. Games are effective because they motivate the student (Ersoz, 2000). Games help lower anxiety and students become more relaxed. If students are relaxed and comfortable they will retain things better and faster (Uberman, 1998). Games help students to maintain their interest in language (Wright, Betteridge and Buckby, 1984). They help students to participate and it gives them a real context to use their English (Huyen and Nga, 2003). Kim (1995) feels 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 the language.

There are numerous games that can be adapted and used in an English language classroom. English language teachers need to consider which games to use, when to use them, how to link them up with the syllabus, textbook or program and how, more specifically, different games will benefit students in different ways (Khan,J.1996). The teacher needs to choose a game suitable to the lesson and the students. The language level used should be appropriate for the students. It should give students a chance to learn and practice different aspects of the language. The chosen game should ensure all students are participating and interested in the activity. Competition or team work can play a big role in eliciting and maintaining students motivation and participation. Games shouldnt be limited to icebreakers, warm up activities and time fillers. Games can be used at any point throughout the class if the material corresponds with the goals and aims of the lesson (Uberman. 1998). Games can introduce a new language skill or can be a great way to review and reinforce material previously learned. For games to be successful students must have a clear understanding of the rules and how to play. I have found demonstrating to be the most effective method of instruction. It is always good to be involved in the game so the students see your genuine interest and it gives the student and teacher a chance to bond. There are many ways to be involved in the games; participant, director of the activity (eg. game show host), follower or simply cheering and giving encouragement. It is also important to limit the duration of the game and give an individual time limit for responses. Time limits will keep students excited and interested in the activity. Overall games can be a great way to develop students language ability. Games give students a chance to interact and communicate with each other. Games will be an integral part of my English language classroom.

References - Hadfield, J. 1990. A Collection of Games and Activities for Low to Mid-intermediate students of English. Hong Kong: Thomus and Nelson and Nelson and Sons Ltd. - Aydan Ersoz. June 2000. Six games for the EFL/ESL Classroom. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No.6. - Agnieszka Uberman.1998. The Use of Games for Vocabulary Presentation and Revision. Forum Vol.36 No1. January-March. - Andrew Wright, David Betteridge and Micheal Buckby. 1984. Games for Language Learning. Cambridge University Press. - Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen and Khuat Thi Thu Nga. December 2003. Learning Vocabulary Through Games. Asian EFL Journal. - Lee Su Kim. March 1995. Creative Games for the Language Class. Forum Vol.33 No.1.

- Khan, J. 1996. Using Games in Teaching English to Young Learners. Teaching English to Children. From Practice to Principle. England: Longman. Author: Erin Pettinger Date of post: 2007-04-18