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…
genuine communication; hidden drilling; teamwork
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.