A Game as a Tool
of the Teaching Trade
Using educational games
in the EFL teaching
Games are forms of entertainment derived from
a set of artificial rules, typically with a known
goal to be reached. Games can be in the form of
mental or physical activities, or a mixture of the
A game is a physical or mental activity or contest
that has rules and that people do for pleasure.
(Merriam-Webbster’s Learner’s Dictionary)
• Every game has a goal.
• If you use a game in your class, you need to know
why you are using it - you must have an aim.
• Games are motivating for children.
• If you use games in your class, you will probably have
to prepare a variety of materials.
• Games are both enjoyable and create a positive
environment for effective learning.
• The most successful games are those which are
simple to explain, understand and play
• Games tend to be repetitive and are good for
consolidating and reinforcing language structures and
• Real games always have a goal and purpose so they can
provide a meaningful context for an activity.
• Games are fun, and enjoyment helps to develop both a
positive classroom atmosphere and a more effective
• They help to develop children's language skills.
• Games are a part of children's usual behaviour.
• Games encourage children's cognitive (mental)
• They help the children explore social behaviour and
• They help Powerpoint Templates their friends.
children identify with
• Games help to provide variety in your teaching approach.
• Games help to create a context in which children's
attention is focused on the completion of a task without
necessarily realizing that language items are being
practiced. As a result, language learning takes place in a
context that children can directly relate to.
• They cater to a variety of learning styles.
• They prepare children for the use of English in real world
• Games provide a unified, cross-curricular approach to
• Games help children learn the natural way or the way they
learnt/acquired their native language.
• They cater to the learning needs of the whole child, not
just the language learner.
“Code-control games” practise new
language items and develop accuracy.
“Communication games” develop
fluency and more meaningful, authentic
Competition and Co-operation
• Is it going to cause a “dangerous” situation
where learners are outside the immediate
control of you, the teacher?
• Is it going to mean moving a lot of furniture?
• Are frequent changes of place going to disrupt
• Is it going to lead to noisy, excited competition
between teams? (and if so, is that OK, or is it
going to cause problems for other classes, with
the school Head etc.)
The game you choose to play with your
Young Learners may also depend on the
materials required. Time, availability and cost
will probably be major considerations in your
choice as will the effort of organising
children's groups, and, the storage of the
Games are not just time fillers.
They can be demotivating.
We use too many games.
Games are noisy.
Games can be difficult to set up.
Implications Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5
How are the children
learning in these games?
What problems do you
envisage while playing
each game in class? How
would you overcome
What other themes and
topics can be taught
using these games?
How were groups
organised? Could it be
What questions should you ask or what areas do you need
to think about concerning issues below?
Rules of the game
As you plan your game, answer the questions below
How will I set it up? (I.e. demonstration?)
What is the purpose of the game?
How do I deal with the losers?
What material do I need?
How do I set it up physically i.e. seating
Does the game require knowledge of certain
What can be learnt from the game? (I.e. language?
Other educational benefits?)
Games and Learning
Games for Classroom Practice
Interactive Word Games
Two Word Games
I went to the shops...
The YES and NO game
Stand Up Sequence
Cant, A. and Superfine, W. Developing Resources for Primary. London: Richmond Publishing, 1997.
Toth, M. Children's Games. Great Britain: Heinemann English Language Teaching, 1995.
Paul, D. Songs and Games for Children. Great Britain: Heinemann English Language Teaching, 1996