I’m all about hands-on results and swear by the benefits of games in education. That said, academic types often ask me for research backing the use of games in language learning.
The benefits of games in education should not be surprising since playing games is natural and motivating for children. At last, some academics now recognize the benefits of games in education! For example, check authors like Hadfield and Rixon, who point out that games should have a central place in language teaching because they create a friendly classroom atmosphere. Games are fun and relaxing. However, if all games did was create a friendly atmosphere, that would not be nearly enough of a reason to use them. In fact, they do a lot more. For example, check EFL author Mario Rinvolucri who believes games enhance students´ involvement in language learning. See also the author Penny Ur, who thinks games provide a necessary and meaningful context for language learners.
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 vital part of learning a language, games are seen as frivolous. Grammar should be serious and academic, and no one should imagine that teaching it could be fun. So playing games in grammar lessons is a waste of time. At best, a teacher might use a game as a time-filler or to reward good behaviour at the end of a lesson. Poor students, you need a new teacher!
Repetition is the mother of skill
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 so that students can repeat and drill grammar structures abundantly. This is a key point. It’s not just about having fun or being relaxed. It’s about learning effectively.
Great games resources for all ages
All the best, Shelley Ann Vernon
Games books for fun, effective learning
For paperbacks, please visit my Amazon Central author page: Shelley Ann Vernon. There you will find paperbacks and kindle books.