in EFL Classes for Children
Yin Yong Mei ("Lotus")
Jang Yu-jung ("Jessy")
What Is a Game?
"A game is an activity with rules,
a goal and an element of fun. There are two kinds of games: Competitive
games, in which players or teams race to be the first to reach the goal,
and co-operative games, in which players or teams work together towards
a common goal. The emphasis in the games is on successful communication
rather than on correctness of language." (Toth, 1995)
Why Use Games in
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.
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.
How to Organize
Think ahead. If you mix up the rules
or get confused, the children will rebel. The class can fail over blame.
Rehearse games yourself or with friends before class. (Lewis, 1999)
Distinguish noise from chaos. To prevent
noise, make students sit near the teacher and explain clearly what they
are going to do.
The Role of
Preparing the materials in sufficient
Explaining clearly what is to be done.
"Checking" answers at the end of an
Making sure everyone participates.
Controling the time of each game.
1. Vocabulary game: Broken sentences
(Lewis & Bedson, 1999)
In this activity, students have to
put together sentences which have been broken up into two halves.
Copy and cut up some sentences as below,
so there is one sentence for each pair of students in the class. (If there
is an odd number, the teacher can take part.)
Students walk around the room trying
to find their "pair." Once they have, they sit down.
Check by getting each pair to read out
Variation: In this activity,
we can also break up the sentences into three parts.
I am going to the zoo.....
.....to see the wild animals.
Let's go to the travel agent.....
.....to book our summer holiday.
I need some soap.....
.....to wash my hands.
You'll need a saucepan.....
.....to boil those potatoes.
You'd better take a torch.....
.....to see in the dark.
I need a ruler.....
......to draw straight lines.
I won't get.....
.....married until I'm..... .....at least 25.
I'd change my.....
.....name if I weren't..... .....happy with it.
I won't be able to.....
.....arrive before..... .....Friday, I'm afraid.
I'd get a.....
.....dog, only my son..... .....is afraid of them.
2. The homophone game (intermediate/advanced)
(Lewis & Bedson, 1999)
This activity is for pairs or groups.
Before starting, explain what homophones are, namely words that sound the
same but have different meanings and spellings, e.g., I, eye.
Before starting, tell each pair/group
to write the numbers 1-20 in a column on a separate piece of paper.
Read out the words one at a time. After
you have read out each word, allow the pairs/groups 20-30 seconds to try
to write down two possible words.
Continue in this manner until all 20
words have been read out.
Check orally. If you wish, get one person
from each pair/group to write their answer on the board. Try to get them
to explain the different meanings.
3. Drawing a picture: (no
Divide the students into pairs or groups.
One or two students come to the blackboard
and get ready to draw the picture
Give one picture to each group to see
except the student who is ready to draw.
Other students describe the objects
in the picture, and the student who didn't see the picture draws it according
his classmates' description.
The group who finish drawing in
the shortest time, and whose picture is most similar to the original is
Activities (Ur & Wright, 1996)
When teachers prepare their lesson,
like teaching a new grammar point or reading of a text, they will need
some extra ingredients to make it into a smooth, integrated unit.
The need for short activities:
A quick warm-up for the beginning to
get your students into the right mood for learning.
An idea for a brief vocabulary review
before starting a new text.
A light filler to provide relief after
a period of intense effort and concentration.
A brief orientation activity to prepare
a change of mood or topic.
Hadfield, J (1996). Elementary
communication games. Longman: Addison Wesley Longman Ltd.
Lee, J. M. (1996). English games.
Seoul: The People Publisher.
Lee, S. C. (1980). 101 games &
activities for primary English. Seoul: Moonjin Media.
Lee, W. R. (1979). Language teaching
games and contests. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lewis, G., & Bedson, G. (1999).
for children. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rinvolucri, M. (1984). Grammar
games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Toth, M. (1995). Children's games.
Oxford: Heinemann Publishers.
Tyson, R. E. (2000). "Serious"
fun: Using games, jokes, and stories in the language classroom.
Ur, P., & Wright, A. (1992).
activities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This page last updated:
December 10, 2000