It should be compulsory for all teachers to try to convey their information in the most attractive manner. We live in the 21st century where foreign languages, especially English, are of great importance and occupy an important place in the society we live in.
For decades, English has become a cosmopolitan language, not only for borderless communication, but also for the job field. English knowledge is required for any type of job, irrespective of the field or domain it implies.
Therefore, what can we do to increase students' interest in acquiring this knowledge and what can teachers do to demonstrate that English is an appealing language?
Well, first of all we need two key elements: students' MOTIVATION- an aim to study English language as clear as crystal, on the one hand and on the other hand, there are the teachers, as in the well known saying "It takes two to tango" in any teaching process. Teachers should step aside the curriculum, ventilate their lessons and focus on what students are really gaining at the end of their English class. What can students really reproduce or recall at the end of their class?
This implies an English hour focused on real life situations and communication, on vivid teaching with as many visual aids as possible and last but not least GAMES: EDUCATIONAL GAMES.
Irrespective of the level of study or age of students, we all love to play, we all have a playful (frolicsome) spirit in us, which doesn't fade away along time; the only thing teachers have to do is to re-discover and re-activate this side in their teaching.
So, what really happens when we learn by playing? The information is transferred through a personal filter, students "digest" the newly-acquired information better and this fact leads to an attractive ""subconscious" learning, which is, by far, more lasting and durable than the mechanical, exam-conditioned one. How much knowledge or information do our students recall after they have passed an exam? Well, teachers should aim for permanent learning and should structure their teaching without a guarantee, or a time - conditioned assessment.
Practising what they learn, by playing , what teachers provide, represents a good assessment for teachers too, they get the chance to see up to what extend their teaching was efficient, up to what level students comprehend the newly acquired information. More than that, students get to have fun and learn in the same time. So, let's have fun with English!
In order words, the purpose of this writing is to expose some examples of these educational games and their adaptability to different classes and levels.
Up to gymnasium educational level, games like miming, role play, flash cards, quizzes or "I say one you say more" are of great interest. Children love to play and when it comes to playing during school classes, things get even better.
Some of these games, worth mentioning are:
I SAY ONE YOU SAY MORE (IF POSSIBLE)-The plural of nouns
This game is a good assessor to clear up the difficulties pupils encounter when they have to deal with uncountable nouns. Ideal for young learners!
The class is divided in two teams. Each team has to provide a noun for each team colleague, from the opponent team, in the singular form, and the other team has to specify its plural form or the same form if it is an uncountable noun. Of course this game can be adorned with points, prizes and rewards. It is a good method to identify the problems and misunderstandings students have after a Lead-in lesson about Nouns.
LET'S MIME! - PRESENT TENSE CONTINUOUS
Another successful game, when teaching English grammar, for example, is miming.
In practice this means that the classroom is divided into three teams. Each team has a member to come in front of the classroom and to mime an action (from the ones written on the blackboard).Students have to guess what action is their colleague miming.
A: Are you playing on your computer?
B: No, I'm not playing!
A: Are you playing on your piano?
B: Yes, I am!
THE WASHING LINE- TEACHING CLOTHES VOCABULARY
This is a good vocabulary activity to use with younger learners.
To teach the names of clothes, Students are asked to cut a page of a newspaper in the shape of a hat, gloves, trousers, etc. Then, using a washing line and clothes pegs, students are asked to hang their projects on the washing line. Students repeat the names of the clothes after the teacher. After teaching the vocabulary of clothes, Students are asked to close their eyes while teacher hides some of the clothes. A few seconds later Students open their eyes and name the missing clothes and then they try to find them.
This activity is both very useful and enjoyable for young students.
As it has been mentioned, visual aids play an important role in teaching. Flashcards represent an attractive method and a handy resource to introduce vocabulary, to play with words from songs and to recycle vocabulary. They are really useful not only for helping children learn the spelling and pronunciation of new words but also to reinforce grammatical aspects of the language.
Students really enjoy flashcards, whether they give directions or describe houses and people and enjoy making their own flash cards.
Some of the activities that can be played with flashcards are:
Stick 9 flash cards on the board and draw a grid around them.
Use a pen or a pointer to drill the 9 words. Always point to the flash card you are drilling.
Gradually remove the flash cards but continue to drill and point to the grid where the flash card was.
When the first card is removed and you point to the blank space, nod your head to encourage children to say the word of the removed flash card.
Students should remember and continue as if the flash cards were still there. They seem to be amazed that they can remember the pictures.
Depending on the age group Students are asked to put the flash cards back in the right place on the grid, or to come up and write the word in the correct place on the grid.
This activity highlights the impact of visual aids. It really proves that the images 'stick' in students' minds.
REVEAL THE WORD
Cover the flash card or word card with a piece of card and slowly reveal it.
Students guess which one it is.
Once the card is shown, chorally drill the word with the group using different intonation and silly voices to keep it fun. Vary the volume too, whisper and shout the words. Children will automatically copy your voice.
Alternatively, flip the card over very quickly so the children just get a quick glimpse.
Repeat until they have guessed the word.
Doubtless, flash cards are definitely an essential tool. They're visually stimulating, can be used in endless possible ways for various types of activities on all levels. They allow flexible modification for any teacher and according to any student type, so developing a personalized flashcard portfolio is one of the most effect ways to enrich one's teaching experience. Employing students' creative powers in creating their own flashcards is a wonderful activity for elementary school classes. If you feel a little artistic and creative yourself (which language teacher doesn't?) it's really rewarding.
Another activity very appealing and enjoyable for students is represented by stories. Starting from an early age, children are familiar to stories and when it comes to foreign language stories the information seems more appetizing. This leads to developing all the skills, productive and receptive. By listening or reading to a story students improve their listening and reading skills, as well as their speaking skills, when discussing points of view about the respective story or writing, when they make their own story, or fragments of the story( its ending for example). Some of the most interesting story- games are:
CREATE A FRAMEWORK FOR STORIES
This is a creative-writing exercise in which the teacher moulds the story but allows plenty of scope for the students' creative expression.
The students work in pairs or groups of three. The teacher dictates a part of a story and then gives instructions on how the students should continue the next part of the story in their pairs. (This usually involves adding description or dialogue.)
Once the students have added a part to the story, the teacher once again dictates the next part and asks them once again to add more.
This process can continue for 5 or 6 paragraphs or until the students lose concentration.
You can use this procedure with any short story, but it works best when you dictate the movement of events and your students add description or dialogue. Students do generally like to decide on the end of the story themselves, so if you sense they are getting tired, just tell them to finish the story.
In a subsequent class all the stories are read by all the students. Each group will also receive their original story to compare their version with the teacher's version. All the stories should be displayed on a classroom poster.
The students record their stories onto CDs. Allow the students time to practice their parts and to use sound effects. The students then all listen to all the stories. To focus your students' attention during the listening activity you can ask them to write a few comprehension check questions for their stories.
For 12th grade students, role play games are of great interest. When discussing a for or against essay, structure the class like in a judge room, establish a Pro- team an Against one and a sensible judge, they’ll feel important and will have a lot of fun. They will learn to express points of view and arguments. Or, another successful role-play activity, which suits them like a glove is called” GET ME A JOB”. Establish an employer team and several candidates that want to get a job and come to a job interview (possible employees). This is a very useful and practical activity which depicts a real life situation.
As it can be seen the list of these games is endless and ceaselessly but all these activities and problem- solutions can be compiled in creating an English Club. For the skeptical teachers who have read this article and argued that there is no time for such games or activities, as the curriculum is very congested and complex, I suggest an English Club. An hour, vacant for both students and teachers where they can have FUN WITH ENGLISH! Where students can have English names and teachers too, why not? Where there is no a class book, or grades, assessment or tests, just fun and entertainment! So, teachers, spare an hour from you free time if syllabus doesn't allow you to do this during class, and turn English Teaching into a memory students will never forget.
It is up to you!
Author: Pănescu Maria Manuela
English Teacher al “Astra” Technological High School
British council -Teaching resources: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk
Joanna Budden, British Council, Spain- Flash Cards
Ece Sevil, British Council, Turkey-The washing line
Jeff Fowler, British Council, Naples-Creating a framework for writing
CheronVerster, British Council, South Africa-Argumentative essays
(Postat decembrie 2016)