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FUNCTIONS OF GAMES AND CREATIVITY IN F

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  1. 1. UNIT 18 FUNCTIONS OF GAMES AND CREATIVITY IN FLL.DEFINITION AND TYPOLOGY OF GAMES FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING AND PROFICIENCY. GAMES AS A PLAYFUL AND CREATIVE TECHNIQUE TO INSTIGATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE IN A FL.INTRODUCTIONAccording to the curriculum of Primary Education, which has been specified for the Region ofMurcia in Decree 111/2002, the main aim of learning a foreign language is to acquire acommunicative competence and this communicative competence involves not only the differentlanguage components, that is to say, vocabulary, structures, phonetic, etc, but also the developmentof the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.For pupils acquire communicative competence, we should provide them with games, since they area playful creative technique to instigate the development of that communicative competence.Children play and children want to play. Children learn through playing. In playing togetherchildren interact and in interacting they develop language educational skills. Genuine games alwayshave and aim and a purpose. Games provide a context for playing, reasons for playing and routines.They are activities that children naturally and universally engage in. Piaget (1967) saw childrens’games as “the most admirable social institutions”. Games are not just time-filling activities but havea great educational value. A game should not ve regarded as a marginal activity filling in oddmoments when the teacher and the class have nothing better to do.1 FUNCTION OF GAMESGames have long been considered as a useful tool for the teaching of languages and its use has beennow widely extended. That is due to several reasons.On a superficial level games carry out the important functions of motivating pupils, making thelearning experience more enjoyable and providing them with pleasure.However these are not the only functions that games fulfil, but also may facilitate learning.According to this we can identify the following functions and benefits of games.: 1. They are a welcome break from the usual routine of the language class. Thus, variety is added to the range of learning situations, increasing motivation. 2. The pace of a lesson can be changed, thus maintaining pupil’s motivation. 3. Encourage children’s interest to study in depth that language. 1
  2. 2. 4. More informal teaching, thus renewing pupils’ energy. 5. Hidden practice of specific language patterns, vocabulary and pronunciation can be provided. Songs and rhymes tend to have a repetitive and cumulative nature and are therefore effective for consolidating and reinforcing language structures and lexis. 6. Listening skills, attention span and concentration are improved. 7. Pupil’s participation is encouraged, thereby giving confidence to shy pupils. 8. Pupil-pupil communication is increased, which provides fluency practice and reduces the domination of the class by the teacher. 9. Allow students to learn in a very fun atmosphere. 10. They break the barrier between the pupils and the teacher, thus creating a warmer atmosphere. 11. Areas of weakness and the need for further language work can be revealed. 12. Provide a link between school and home-life. 13. Help to create a sense of group identity. 14. Improve reading and writing skills due to a better ability to decode what they are reading. 15. Allow a high participation by the part of the pupils. 16. Involving children in games to play may be a good way of creating a powerful need to understand and use the language. “If you don?t understand you won’t be able to play. Using the language is the best way of learning to use it. 17. Provide a natural communicative practice, since the activity of thee children is centred in reaching some extra linguistic objective rather than in the practice of linguistic forms as a main aim. That is the “task-based” principle.2 DEFINITIION AND TIPOLOGY OF GAMESJulia khan defines games as “activities governed by rules, which set up clearly defined goals, Theachievement of these goals signal the end of the game.In order to make a classification of games there may be several different criteria from which wemay set a typology of language learning games, which can be grouped under different headings.Games according to the purpose, to the procedure, to the grouping, materials needed, skillspractised, etc. However this division may lead us to mix games ones with others, in such a way thatthe same game should be grouped under different headings (the main disadvantage of theseclassifications is that too many games fall under more then one head). Moreover, all the gamesinvolve a purpose, as well as a procedure or technique, a grouping, materials, etc.According to the purpose they are divide into code-control games and communicative games. 2
  3. 3. • Code-control games aim to practise new language items and develop accuracy often taking the form of hidden drills. The purpose is usually to score more points than others and there is often a clear winner. • Communication games. The existence of a group of games named “communicative” does not mean that control-code games are not communicative. It has been called communicative games to a sseries of games based on the principle of the information gap. If a situation is created in which one player knows something that another does not, and this information need to be shared in order that they shoul complete some task, there is an automatic need to communicate. These games put more emphasis on successful communication than on correctness of language. The most appropriate stage for these games is the production stage as a culmination of a lesson and as a evaluation technique.3 COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE THROUGH GAMESAs we have already said, games can be considered as a playful and creative technique to instigatethe development of communicative competence in a FL, which is stated as the main goal of the areain the curriculum of Primary Education.CHOMSKY defined competence in terms of the grammatical knowledge of a language.In an effort to wide the chomskian concept, Hymes proposed a widest notion of competence: thecommunicative competence. This notion does not include only grammar competence but alsosociolinguistic competence. Hymes said that there are rules of use without which the rules ofgrammar are useless. He said that the ability to use a language competently not only entailsknowing the grammatical rules of a language, but also knowing what to say, to whom, in whatsituation and how to say it.Hymes distinguish four aspects of this competence:* systematic potential * appropriacy * occurrence * feasibilityThese 4 categories have been adapted for teaching purposes, Thus CC is seen as comprising 5subcompetences:Grammar competence. The ability to put into practice the system of grammar rules by which alanguage operates. With regard to this competence a particular semantic field of vocabulary andstructures can be introduced or practised through word or card games, for instance.Discourse competence. The ability to produce unified written or spoken discourse that showscoherence and cohesion in different types of texts. With regard to this competence a particularsemantic field of vocabulary can be introduced or practised through word or card games, forinstance. 3
  4. 4. Sociolinguistic competence. The ability to produce appropriate utterances in differentsociolinguistic contexts depending on contextual factors such as status of participants and purposeof the interaction. Role play and communicative activities which implies free production of thetarget language help to develop sociolinguistic competence.Socio-cultural competence. Understood as the knowledge of the social and cultural context inwhich the language is used.Strategic competence. The ability to use verbal and non verbal communication strategies that maybe called into action for two main reasons: • to compensate for breakdown in communication • to improve the effectiveness of communication, as for example the tone of voice or gestures.Certain mime games require the use of gestures which pupils may later emply to overcome forbreakdowns in communication.Sociolinguistic competence. The ability to produce appropriate utterances in differentsociolinguistic contexts depending on contextual factors such as status of participants and purposeof the interaction. Role play and communicative activities which implies free production of thetarget language help to develop sociolinguistic competence.Socio-cultural competence. Understood as the knowledge of the social and cultural context inwhich the language is used.In some situations we need to transform the classroom in a shop for instance and the customershave to use british conventions and routine language, thus improving their sociolinguistic andcosicoultural competence.4 SELECTION OF GAMESSome aspects to bear in mind when selecting a game are: - Possible contribution to the language learning process. - Appropriateness to the age of children. - The linguistic level. It should be in accordance with our students’ level. - The procedure of the game. - All the children should be able to participate. - It should be easy and quick to set up and carry out. - It should be fun for the children. - It should have linguistic relevance. - It should have an aim and a purpose.The effectiveness of a game, as in any other activity, will depend of what it can contribute to theprogramme, and its selection should be done in accordance with the stage: presentation, controlled 4
  5. 5. practice or free practice.Games may foster the development and practice of the 4 linguistic skills, going from a brief andsimple game (as a warmer) to practise an isolated skill, to a bigger and more complex one, whichallows to integrate the 4 skills(for example The Treasure Hunt), and even being a final task.When selecting games it is more effective to choose those which can be repeated a number of timeswithout loosing interest, as guessing games, for instance.It the teacher chooses the game carefully, keeping in mind the interests and needs of the learners,games can provide a valuable learning experience in which the children practice and reviselanguage in a meaningful way.4.1 Classroom organizationThe way in which games are organised varies a great deal. Individual games are not very common,but we may have this type of arrangement with some writing games.Pair work and group work have the advantage that learners are working simultaneously andtherefore the time of language practice increases, but also children are less likely to become boredor lose interest because they are actively involved.Cooperation is also encouraged through pair work and group work as learners will learn to helpeach other. Some of the games require team work in which the children join the information theyhave collected. Strong students will help weaker students and the shy children also have theopportunity to speak if they want to.Whole class and the class in two halves.Organization of pair work and group work is achieved by setting up a routine in the Englishlanguage class in which the children know what is expected of them when they are asked to formpairs or groups.New groups can be formed by “moving games” that involve group formation. Groups can also beformed by asking the children to get together with others wearing something of the seme colour orthose who have birthdays in the same mouth. The pattern of organisation has clear implications forthe sort of language activity that a game will engender. A game played in pairs muy involve morechildren in oral interaction. “Find the difference” for example played by pairs involves extensiveoral interchange.4.2 Practical suggestionsNow we are going to see some practical suggestions which can help us to get success when playinggames.- One of the golden rules for using games successfully is that they all know exactly what they are supposed to do, how they are supposed to do it and when. They should know what the aim of the game is right from the start. One of the easiest ways of avoiding chaos in a class is to ask a 5
  6. 6. pair or group of pupils to demonstrate the game so that the other children listen to the instructions before the look at the materials. We can also write a short list of instructions, vocabulary or structures on the board. That way, children have a checklist to follow once they all start to play.Children who have a limited amount of English will find it difficult to carry out the whole of anactivity in English. It is therefore important for us to be sure what the aim of the activity is.Monitoring by the teacher is very important, not only to be sure that children are working inEnglish, but also to help them with any doubts that may arise.- We may also decide that we want to include the language of playing a card game as one of the aims, for example.- Different levels in the class are not a problem for playing games. Some of them aloow repetition in the way that faster students can play the game a second or third time, while others will only play one.- Language classes in which the children are using the language orally are inevitably noisier than classes in which children are doing written exercises. We can ask our pupils to help us keep the noise level to a minimum by setting up rules for a game.- The language of the instructions for games is repeated once and again from one game to another, and this will help students gradually build up knowledge of ways of giving command, asking people to do things.4.3 Ludic principles• An element of luck is very important in a game. Games entirely dependent on skill have the tiresome habit of producing the same few winners repeatedly and thereby rapidly reducing the level of involvement of the majority of the players. Games with a powerful element of chance include guessing games, games with a dice or randomly dealt cards.• Cooperation. “Describe and draw” for example involves players in cooperative negotiation in order to transfer information orally from on given graphic to another. If either one of the pair did not cooperate, the game could not proceed. “Find the difference” similarly requires cooperation.• Uncertainty cause by demands made on memory is another important ludic principle in some types of games. “Grandmother went to the market” for example is a game because players memorises will fail at same stage. The excitement comes from the challenge of uncertainty.4.4 Playing gamesNow we are going on to consider some guidelines we should follow when playing games: 1. Explain the activity in a short and simple way. 2. Demonstrate the game involving the pupils. 6
  7. 7. 3. The teacher does the activity with the whole class. 4. A pupil does the activity with the whole class. 5. Write a short list of instructions, vocabulary or structures if it is necessary. 6. Control the activity. 7. Test the carry out of the task.4.5 How to use games.Tyson, 2000 characteristics of games for teaching purposes: - A game must be more than just fun. It should give the students a chance to learn, practice or review specific language material. - A game should involve friendly competition. - A game should keep all the students involved and interested. - A game should encourage students to focus on the use of language rather than on the language itself.CONCLUSIONGames play a fundamental role in the lives of children. They tend to see life in terms of games andanything else is seen as something they “have to do” rather than “want to do”. Pupils who arehaving fun are usually motivated, so they will find learning English an enjoyable and interestingexperience, and will begin to improve as a result.Knowing English involves not only producing language correctly, but also using language forparticular purpose. When students are able to perform the communicative functions they need, theyachieve CC in the language. Language games help to achieve this.However, games like any other activity or tool can be overexploited when it is used too much, sothat the motivating element disappears rapidly.It is also very important we have a great repertoire of games four our classes, in order to offervariety and avoid routine. Moreover, we can see any game children usually play in real life out ofthe classroom and adapt if for our concrete purposes according to our needs.BIBLIOGRAPHY • Alburquerque, R.: En el Aula de Inglés. Longman, 1990 • BYRNE, D: Teaching Oral English. Longman, 1994 • HARMER, J.: The practice of English Language Teaching. Longman, 1983 • JONES, K.: Simulations in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press, 1982 • KLIPPEL, F: Keep Talking. Cambridge University Press, 1984 • LIVINGSTON, C.: Role Play in Language Learning. Longman, 1983 • PORTER, G.: Role play. Oxford English, 1987 • PHILIPS, S.: Young Learners. • WRIGHT, A.: Games for Language Teaching. • BREWSTER & ELLIS.: The Primary English Teacher’s Guide. 7
  8. 8. • WESSELS, C.: Drama. UUP. Oxford, 1987 8

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