Benefits of games in ESL / EFL teaching
I'm all about hands-on results, but academic types often ask me for research backing the use of games in language learning. Playing games is natural for children. Games motivate students to join in. Check authors like Hadfield and Rixon, who point out that games should have a central place in language teaching because they create a friendly atmosphere in the classroom. Games are fun and relaxing. Check also author Penny Ur, who thinks games provide a necessary and meaningful context for language learners. EFL author Mario Rinvolucri believes games enhance students´ involvement in language learning.
Despite all these advantages of teaching with games in the EFL-classroom, some teachers and schools still frown upon using them. When it comes to teaching grammar, that important and tricky part of learning a language, games are seen as frivolous. Grammar should be taught in a ´serious, academic´ way. Playing games in grammar lessons is a waste of time. Use a game at the end of the lesson, as a reward for good behaviour, or as a time-filler. Poor students. Change teacher!
In the classroom, there's nothing better than repeating grammatical structures to learn and integrate them into one's linguistic toolbox. Repetition is the mother of skill. Games put emphasis on fluency and speaking activities whereby grammar structures are repeated and drilled abundantly. This is a key point. It's not just about having fun or being relaxed. It's about learning effectively.
All the best, Shelley Ann Vernon