Why are games important in the ESL classroom?

Why are games important in the ESL classroom?

Games can become an indispensable part of the learning process, especially when it comes to foreign language learning both with kids and adult learners. There are thousands of games that a teacher can play with their students. EFL games are used to test vocabulary, practice conversing, learn tenses, etc. In this article, we will point to the main reasons why games can be effective in the ESL classroom. 

1. A great learning tool 

By playing a game, students may be able to understand a new concept or idea, take on a different perspective, or experiment with different options or variables. A lot of games help to digest the newly learnt material.  Follow these links for more vocabulary games and grammar games. 

2. More motivation

Games increase the overall motivation in the classroom. Students get involved in a meaningful practice without any learning burden and complete the tasks with fun and ease. They pay attention to many details, participate in set tasks. 

3. Stimulate learning strategies

Most of the games require a lot of other mental strategies, like planning, problem-solving, using working memory, increasing mental cognition, implementing creativity, getting involved in teamwork. Playing a range of content-specific games can improve memory. As students play a game, they need to remember important details about a topic but also use their working memory to think and act quickly.  

4. Games help to develop connections with the content

A positive emotional connection can facilitate learning. Furthermore, many games feature a variety of different stimuli; some students might remember the vocabulary words from acting them out, others remember reading the clues, and other students remember hearing classmates call out answers, some learn through mingling games. Games can provide a variety of sensory experiences for students, therefore, they get better stuck in memory. A very famous ‘Definition Game’ can be a great source for creating an emotional connection to the vocabulary items. Once during such a game, one of my students explained the word ‘monkey’ by acting out, jumping around. This created a nice sensory connection.

5. Games grab students’ attention and actively engage them

Games can be greatly useful for shifting students attention from one activity to another. After a lengthy test, students get often very tired and an energetic game with lots of movement may be exactly what the class needs. After the game, the transition back to the content is much easier. 

6. Friendly Fun

Playing games in the classroom is always great fun! When students play a game, endorphin is produced which stimulate the brain and give them a feeling of euphoria. As a result, students get a great sense of happiness and excitement by developing a positive learning environment.

7. Classroom  Cooperation

When students play games in teams, it increases class cooperation. Through games, students learn how to take turns, build respect, listen to others and play fairly. Classroom games can also be used as a team-building exercise.

8. Less Stress

In many cases when students need to answer questions on a worksheet or write an essay can be quite stressful and they may have a negative perception of the learning process. As an alternative to these type of activities games serve as a less stressful way of showing the learners’ knowledge and understanding of the topic. 

The importance of games is incredible in the learning process since it adds to the formation of the energetic classroom environment, cooperative learning, better recognition of the material and less stressful learning.

Play and learn English. 

Лиза Мардоян

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