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Using Games in Teaching English to Young Learners

Using Games in Teaching English to Young Learners

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Published by Ratri Cahyani

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Published by: Ratri Cahyani on May 22, 2012
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Using Games in Teaching English to Young Learners
Lin Hongzhangyllh [at] hotmail.comGuangdong Foreign Language Normal School (Guangdong, China)
I. How to Choose a Game
Students may wish to play games purely for fun. Teachers, however, need moreconvincing reasons. 'Teachers need to consider which games to use, when to usethem, how to link them up with the syllabus, textbook or programme and how, morespecifically, different games will benefit students in different ways (Khan, J.1996).'The key to a successful language game is that the rules are clear, the ultimate goalis well defined and the game must be fun.
Below are some questions which we might consider as we choose a game:
Which language does the game target?
Which skills does it practice? The language skill focus could be any one of themajor skills of listening, speaking, reading or writing.
What type of game is it?
What's the purpose for using it?
Does it fit the students? How could I simplify or make it more complex ifnecessary? Many games require modification in use when the students' needare taken into consideration.
How much interaction and participation is there? Maximum involvement issomething we are pursuing.
Do I like the game myself?
II. Hints and Suggestions
When giving instructions to beginners, a few words in the mother tongue wouldbe the quickest way to make everything clear. More English exposure is neededat a later stage.
Games are best set up by demonstration rather than by lengthy explanation.
It is very important not to play a game for too long. Students will begin to loseinterest. It is best to stop a game at its peak.
III. The "Magic Matchbox" Game
This is a guessing game played by teams to practice numbers.
How many? There are…
Additional benefits:
genuine communication; hidden drilling; teamwork
Language needed:
numbers 1 to 11
10 to 15 minutes
1 matchbox; 11 toothpicks per person
The teacher challenges the students to count the 11 toothpicks in his/herhand. To model the game, the teacher then puts some into the matchbox,shakes it and asks the students to guess how many are inside.
The teacher explains how to play the game in the students nativelanguage if necessary.
The teacher divides the class into two teams, giving each team anEnglish name, eg. the Roosters and the Monkeys. Then the teacher writethe the team names on the board for scoring during the game.
If the class has a large number of students, this is one way to get smallerteams. Choose 10 players from each team by chanting together a'choosing rhyme' such as the following:
One, two, three, four,
(The student chosen is the one you are pointing at on the word OUT!)
Each player secretly puts no more than 11 toothpicks into his/hermatchbox.
During the Game
The first player from the Roosters stands up, shakes the matchbox inhis/her hand. His/her team members shout together 'How many?.' The
Monkeys then give the answer by replying 'There are…'.
If the guess is the correct number, the Monkeys wins a point. If not, theRoosters get the point.
Then switch roles. This time the Monkeys ask and the Roosters guess.
The game continues until all the players get a turn.
The teacher keeps a record of the points on the board. The team with themost points wins.
Khan, J. 1996 'Using games in teaching English to young learners' in(eds)Brumfit, C, T
eaching English to Children. From Practice to Principle 
England: LongmanThe Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VIII, No. 8, August 2002http://iteslj.org/  http://iteslj.org/Lessons/Lin-UsingGames.html
Teaching Adult ESL Learners
Yi Yangyangyi05@yahoo.comMassachusetts Department of Education (Massachusetts, USA)
This is an article about the author's experience teaching a class of immigrants to the United States ofAmerica and a description of some of the techniques the author used.
According to the U.S. Census data, of the 26.4 million immigrants in the U.S., almost80 percent are adults (Starr, 2001). Consequently, English as a Second Language(ESL) has become the fastest growing segment in federally funded adult educationprograms (Pugsley, 1998). Many of the adult ESL learners do not have muchschooling in their home country, and therefore, lack appropriate study skills importantfor academic success. In addition, they tend to face tremendous financial distressand family responsibilities that oftentimes prevent them from concentrating on theirstudies. Teaching them can be a significant challenge for the teacher and curriculumdeveloper.
The Class
All the students had immigrated into the U.S. as adults and their highest educationalattainment was high school. All had completed basic and intermediate ESL coursesat a government-sponsored program. This course aimed to teach job-related skills aswell as other essential everyday life skills. The following are some strategies that Ifound to be effective in teaching adult ESL learners.
Listen to Students' Needs
Educators have long acknowledged the power of learners' voices in improvingteaching and learning (Fullan and Stiegelbauer, 1991). Since I had never taught thistype of students before, I deemed it necessary to learn about their needs andpreferences. I designed a simple questionnaire consisting of two parts.The first part was about course content, where I asked the specific skills studentswished to learn, for example, talking to a doctor, getting along with colleagues &supervisors, filling out job applications, etc.The second part was concerned with teaching approaches, which explored students'opinions on some traditional Chinese as well as contemporary Western teachingmethods such as reading aloud after the teacher, detailed grammar analysis, usingsome Chinese in the classroom, pair work and group work, etc.For both parts, I left ample spaces for students to add more of their opinions.During the first class, I administered the questionnaire to students and their answersprovided good guideline for my plans for the course content and classroompedagogy.
Set Higher Expectations with Individual Support
These students all had families to support and were all holding blue-collar jobs suchas waitress, cashier, and cook. Their previous teachers seldom assigned them anyhomework, due to the non-credit, voluntary nature of the course and the demandinglifestyle of the students. However, I believe that language acquisition for adults doesnot happen naturally and effortlessly. Although all the students had lived in the U.S.

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