Tweet There is a common perception that all learning should be serious in nature and that if one is having fun and there is laughter and noise, then it is not learning. This is a misconception. It is possible to learn a language as well as enjoy oneself. One of the best ways of doing this is through games and ice-breakers. They are short opening activities that help to energize the class, release tension and ease anxiety, especially when learning a foreign language, feeling of fear and anxiety prevail. Ice breakers are non-threatening activities that allow students to progress in language use while they get to know their classmates and together create a trusting and supportive class environment. An ice-breaking activity should be short and language centered, besides, students should have a chance to learn about one another while doing the activity. English songs can be used for a wide variety of ESL learning and teaching activities. They can start discussions on a topic or even become the centre of debate. This is especially true of songs that develop a particular theme. Songs are also great for teaching listening. One of my favorite exercises with music is completing the blanks as students listen or listening and choosing the correct words from two words than rhyme, for example cry and try. You can teach grammar with songs in many ways. Most English songs sometimes sacrifice grammar for smooth rhyme. This makes them very good grammar teaching tools. You can ask students to find the mistakes or ask them how we would normally say it. Most songs reflect the background of the singer, why not do activities on something like varieties of modern English; or simply by comparing two songs ask students to figure out where the speaker is from and why. This is especially good for lessons that show the differences between British and American English. Like English songs English videos can be used for an assorted variety of language teaching and learning. The main difference lies in the fact that you see and hear. Television is however a lazy medium, providing little challenges for the mind, by spoon-feeding the mind with sounds and sights, thereby providing little room for one’s imagination to thrive. So how do we make this lazy medium a useful classroom tool? Lots of ideas come to mind. How about turning of sound and asking students to create the dialogue from a scene? Or how about, getting one part of the class to watch and describe to the others? Yes! How about simply using a freeze frame technique where you watch and pause when it gets very interesting, then ask your students a number of questions about what happens next? '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. Furthermore, they employ meaningful and useful language in real contexts. They also encourage and increase cooperation', wrote Aydan Ersoz. So they help the teacher to create contexts in which the language is useful. 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. 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. Considering teacher’s attitudes towards using games or fun activities, we can see that many teachers believe they do not have time to use games in the classroom. They prefer to focus more in traditional teacher-centered instructions, thus ignoring the benefits of using games as an instructional tool. Some teachers see games as mere time –fillers and thus fail to realize that in the relaxed atmosphere resulting from the use of games, learning occurs. Other teachers complain about the impossibility of implementing games in the classroom due to the large number of students, the noise resulting from the games, time constraints and other factors. But all teachers should be aware that games can be used in a variety of ways to support learning English. They can foster a healthy classroom dynamic and create opportunities for interaction. Why should we use language games in our classroom? Firstly, games are motivating and challenging. Learning a language requires a great deal of effort, so games help students sustain the effort of learning. Secondly, they provide language practice in the various skills: speaking, writing, listening and reading. Thirdly, games create a meaningful context for language use. They also encourage students to interact and communicate and increase motivation and provide authentic and meaningful language practice. They energize students who move around, have fun while learning. Thus, students become enthusiastic, stay on task and focus on learning much longer than a regular practice session. Movement which supports a bodily kinesthetic learning style helps learners absorb and retain language. Games contribute to lowering the affective filter. In other words, factors that might negatively impact language learning such as inhibition, doubt, low self-esteem and lack of motivation are ameliorated. When students have fun, relax and focus on the purpose of the game, their anxiety is lessened. They begin to have more confidence in using the language. Games also encourage students to take risks and learn by trial and error. What is the teacher’s role in such activities? It is important that the language teacher be creative and innovative in his/her class in order to avoid routine and do something different in class. It does not require too much effort and the rewards are plenty: the joy on the students’ faces, the mirth and enthusiasm generated. Teachers must focus on learning objectives rather than incorporating games only to have fun or use up class time. When games are clearly tied to objectives and appropriate to the focus of the lesson and teachers demonstrate their usefulness they will be successful. A demonstration by the teacher or other student may be needed before play begins. Teachers also need to ensure that learners have the vocabulary and linguistic structure to play the game and that the instructions are clear. Moreover teachers have to be aware of their students’ personalities and abilities and not set up a game in any way to disadvantage students with lower levels of proficiency. If some students are not comfortable participating in a game, they can be assigned other responsibilities such as tracking the score or keeping the time. As much as possible, teachers should design activities that will be accessible and of interest to all students, and create a positive classroom rapport so that students will feel willing to try something new. How to Choose Games: * 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. The aim of most games is to allow students to interact, make mistakes, work to communicate and to provide some sense of challenge.
Teachers should allow authentic language to occur naturally, without over correcting students or giving too much help. Before using any game, teachers should decide what content they will use and then adapt the game accordingly. Also we should keep in mind that overusing any activity or game is never a good idea. As with show business “Always leave them wanting more” is a good motto for games in the EFL classroom. Let the game run its course, but quit before it gets boring or old. There is nothing that engages children more than teaching English through play and fun activities. Indeed a bored class will take in less than half of what a teacher says and retain none of it. Whereas an attentive, interested and involved class, learning through fun English Language games, will take in 100% of the lesson and retain up to 80% of it. Using language games in class has got to be one of the most exciting ways to teach children English.