LANGUAGE GAMES IN TEACHING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE We live in a time when the process of teaching –learning foreign languages is becoming

one of the most important issues worldwide. In the XXI st century it is absolutely essential to know at least one foreign language as you cannot do without it whatever your life aim is. Whether you want to travel and have fun or apply for a good job you need to be able to communicate in the United Europe or the “United World.” That is why the role of a foreign language teacher has changed recently and is becoming extremely responsible and at the same time difficult. There are more and more language classes in the curriculum of the Polish school. Language teachers are supposed to spend more and more time with their students trying hard to encourage them to learn and in general develop their ability to read, write, listen and speak in a foreign language. How to make the lessons interesting for students and how to make your students interested and keen on learning when they are so overwhelmed with learning material? The answer is: change. We need to make language lessons fun and motivating for young people. And games are a good solution. Games are associated with relaxing atmosphere, having good time, lots of fun and laughter. Even if your students are not really involved in the learning process, it is surprising and encouraging for them to hear a command ‘play’ instead of the unwanted ‘work.’ Not realizing the fact, they acquire the language through enjoyable activities and in a pleasant atmosphere. From the teacher’s point of view didactic games are a very useful method of teaching and they can serve to achieve various aims depending on a teacher’s needs, current topic, conditions of the classroom etc. TYPES OF GAMES Yet, it is not an easy task to introduce language games into the classroom and many factors have to be taken into account. You need to consider the learners’ age, the number of students in the class, their ability to cooperate in a team, their language ability and the language level they present and first and foremost the simple fact if they are willing to take part in the activity. In methodological literature games are divided into two categories. The first one is games which constitute a foreign language (e.g. lexical games, structure games). The second one is composed of games which want to develop communication ability. Lexical games make it possible for students to recognize and form correct sentences in terms of syntax, spelling, phonetic rules etc. This kind of games allows students to revise vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation. They also develop general abilities such as memory, concentration and the ability to pay attention to a certain object. It is essential to continuously increase your active vocabulary while learning a foreign language as well as revise the grammar. You need to learn both so that you can be understandable and communicative. The other category of language games is games which concentrate on developing the ability to exchange information and convey messages. They are called ‘language skills games,’ as they are used for practicing four language skills: speaking, listening, writing and reading. Often students are given passages with gaps and only by talking to one another, listening to others , reading or writing can they find the missing information and complete their gaps. Students are often afraid to use the language they learn. These games are there to help them overcome their inabilities.

At the same time one game can be a movement game. Splitting a large group into pairs can make a ‘rouser’ a ‘settler. The students get adrenalin going. during which students are physically active. The difference between ‘rousers’ and ‘settlers’ is not always clear. Board games are all games in which a board is used. To use these games there must be enough space in the classroom. Students or their teacher can draw or write something on it. Cards can have meaning or value in a game or simply serve as symbols. Of course they can be combined with other elements. It depends on how the teacher decides to play the game. Another classification distinguishes ‘rousing’ and ‘settling’ games. Also.g. e. In guessing games the aim is to guess the answer to a certain question or a problem. Many games can belong to more than one type of games. other games like guessing for example. They walk. tend to get students excited. . The number of groups depends on the character of the game and the number of students in a class. When cards are used a game is called a card game. ‘settlers’ are games which calm a class down. run etc. running to the board.’ and can prevent students waiting for their turn from getting bored. According to Lewis Bedson they can be recognized as: card games board games movement games drawing games guessing games role-play games singing and chanting games team games word games Movement games are those.What we can find in literature is many different types of dividing didactic games into categories. a ‘rouser’ and a language skill game when it develops an ability to speak. as do the games which require students to speak. Typical ‘rousers’ are movement games and all the games in which there is an element of competition. Typical ‘settlers’ are craft activities and games which focus on listening or writing. Team games require cooperative work and can be played by groups of students. The first ones wake the class up. objects or actions.

not only a time filler or reward. The noisy behaviour can be minimized with a simple rule which says that it makes them lose points. At the same time they have fun and learn. It is not a good . too. While playing games the atmosphere is less formal so students are not afraid that they can receive bad grades. Students who are too noisy may interrupt other learners and teachers as well. But in games played in pairs or groups they have a chance to be more active. games are so important as they can motivate them. In a specific atmosphere of a game they have a chance to get closer to their teacher. develop their personalities. passing examinations etc. Some students can be too shy to speak in front of the class. Firstly. writing . Games are an excellent source of motivation. which are highly positive. games are used for learning some new material or revising the old one. Moreover. various activities. The first problem is related to the informal atmosphere during games. In the informal atmosphere of the game students play they are less self-conscious and. It sometimes can cause a lot of noise in the classroom. It takes maturity and responsibility to deal with problems of this kind and again it is a thing students can be taught while playing a game.POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF USING GAMES Language games have got a lot of functions which help to put into practice the aims of lessons. Games involve equal participation from both slow and fast learners Because games are interesting. Also the sense of failure is not that devastating simply because it is just a game and because in team games the responsibility is put on each student in the team. each student gets engaged in the task. and good values are created among them. games are good exercise to revise some specific vocabulary. some disadvantages of using games can be observed too. especially for children and teenagers. Such conflicts are often started by students who lose a game. There are many various reasons for using games in the classroom. They do not want to accept they have lost. They have an opportunity to get to know each other better thanks to different kinds of interactions during the game. games give students a moment of relaxation after long deskwork. According to McCallum (1980). Games also make it possible for the students to achieve success – to win the game! Even weak students have an occasion to feel satisfied when they do something well themselves or when they are members of the winning team. Thanks to games students practise language skills. Sometimes students do not want to belong to groups the way the have been allocated. they develop students’ personality and language skills. They need to be involved and even excited in order to learn effectively. Thus. grammatical structures and patterns. speaking or listening is concerned. Each one has a specific activity to be done and students learn how to be responsible for their own actions while resolving a problem. Young learners do not have motivation deriving from factors outside the classroom such as gaining prestige. therefore. Also. They are an essential part of curriculum. Another problem is students’ quarrels. Children are taught how to deal with problems. different teaching methods. They need fun. What is more. Their motivation is created by the events in the classroom. For weaker students it is sometimes a better way to understand things. Students are not keen on doing exercises from their books all the time. getting a job. interest and enjoyment. Games can be used in any language teaching situation and with any skill area whether reading. more apt to experiment and freely participate in using the foreign language. Those problems can be eliminated by teachers whose task is to explain clearly the rules of games at the beginning of the activity and then watch students’ work. However. They do not like their partner or they prefer to cooperate with their best friends etc. some of the problems or complicated material can be explained by their friends and not necessarily by the teacher. Properly introduced games can be one of the highest motivating techniques.

If there is not enough space to play a game it is better never to start. HOW TO INTRODUCE GAMES IN A CLASSROOM? Before deciding on a game teachers need to consider some factors like: . Games can also be introduced during the main phase of the lesson. They also need to choose a game related to the topic and the kind of interaction which is suitable for a given group of students as well as take the number of learners into account. There are learners who never want to take part in playing a game. and they must not allow their students to use their mother tongue if they want to achieve a goal – a foreign language learning. Then they are used to practise material being covered. Weaker students have no chance to win in such circumstances. If teachers want to start playing a game they need to know when they want to introduce it. Another option is to introduce games at the end of the class as an element of the summary and verification of material that students remember from the lesson. Also. Students who drop at the beginning easily get bored and may cause discipline problems. may feel frustrated and give up playing language games for good. They can be played at the beginning as the revision of material taught previously or as a kind of a warm-up activity preparing for learning new material.idea either to group students according to the level of language they present. Games can be introduced in three different stages during the lesson. when there are lots of students in the class it is not advisable to play eliminating games. While playing a game each and every student should have a chance to take part in it .number of students age of learners students’ level material studied noise factor students’ interests and hobbies necessary equipment time available Each game should be carefully planned before the lesson and the object of it should be closely related to the teaching point of the lesson. A teacher can always ask them to do something else but they must never force students to play games. They also cannot play the same game again and again as it becomes very boring for students. Another problem is the size of the classroom especially when we plan to play movement games.

However. Young children have other preferences than teenagers. Using the method requires a lot of teaching experience. However. all learners like doing crosswords. Young children learn a foreign language very fast and they imitate the sounds well. Teenagers are capable of analyzing things and they can tie facts together. But the crosswords need to be different for children (short and easy) and teenagers (more complicated). they need to do various activities and they must be engaged all the time. They can practise grammar structure and vocabulary and work on developing all language skills. on the other hand. That is why they need a lot of exercises to practise material and a lot of repetition. It is obvious that games must be accurate for students’ age. Games have to be suitable for students’ age and their language abilities. Games for them are a fantastic alternative to course books and students books. they forget new words more quickly that teenagers. For example. All things considered. The time a game is going to take up must also be taken into account. on the other hand there are also some disadvantages which teachers must be aware of. Children love competing but hate losing and that is the factor which may influence the negative behaviour. On the other hand. there are many different types of games and they can be seen as an active and motivating option for teaching and revising language material at school. teachers should be certain it is worth trying. Learners’ level is an important factor as well. Games must also go with students’ interests and hobbies. It should be flexible and dependent on the level of interest and involvement on the part of the students. Children have very short span of concentration. It is possible for them to compare their mother tongue with the foreign language they are learning. There are lots of advantages of using games in a classroom but. Beginners are not prepared to play a discussion while upper – intermediate students would rather not play games in which they are expected to draw or paint something. taking all the advantages and disadvantages into account. . preparation before the lesson and engagement during the process of playing the game.and do something to try and resolve a certain problem. Teachers need to be watchful and carefully control children’s work as they can quickly switch into doing something else instead. games must be related to the teaching material. Another teacher’s task is to prepare necessary equipment if they do not have ready-made tools.

a method which disposes of boredom and monotony. while they will have to deal with real problems in real life. All things considered. learners do not only learn or revise linguistic material but they also develop features like: responsibility. Games are often amusing and make satisfying experience for students and teachers alike. sharing duties with others. However. For teachers it is a way of working which requires a lot of preparation and supervision. Learners will be interested in the subject. games are an enjoyable and useful method in a classroom. being creative etc.SUMMARY Language games are among the best methods of learning and teaching foreign languages. good rivalry. All of them will help students in the future. accepting failures. . Learners tend to like this kind of activity during classes. What is more. and their motivation for learning foreign languages will increase. fair play. They do not even notice some disadvantages and problems tied to using them. thanks to it teachers can achieve surprisingly positive effects in their work. engaged during the lessons. They are especially useful when you want to revise materiel taught. Despite some problems that might occur while proceeding with the activities they are widely used as they are known to be worth it. For them it is a funnier and more relaxing exercise than those found in students’ books and a nice way of spending time.

(1966). 6.G. 10. New York: Noonday. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne.York: McGrawHill. 5.(1990). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Games for Language Learning. 9.REFERENCES 1.M. 100 Language Games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Well.(1984).P. Learning Through Interaction. 7. Zdybiewska.(1991). Games for learning.(1980). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.T.(1991). Sukces I niepowodzenie w nauce języka obcego. London and N. Nixon. Gry i zabawy w nauczaniujęzyków obcych.(1989). Siek-Piskozub. How to Use Games in Language Teaching. Dorry.R. Komorowska.P. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne.(1994). .(1997). 101Word Games.N. McCallun. Lee.H. 3.G.(1978). 2.S.A.W. Games for Language Learning. 4. London: The Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Wright. Language Teaching Games and Contests. 8.G. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kaye. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne.

Dzięki niej jednak mogą osiągnąć zaskakujące wyniki w swojej pracy dydaktyczno-wychowawczej. kiedy będą musieli sprostać realnym zadaniom we własnym życiu. Uczniowie będą zainteresowani przedmiotem. gry bez oszustw.STRESZCZENIE Gry językowe są jedną z najlepszych metod uczenia się i nauczania języków obcych. Podsumowując. . gry są przyjemną i jednocześnie użyteczną metodą pracy na lekcji. będą zaangażowani w czasie trwania lekcji. Co więcej. Wszystkie te cechy pomogą im w przyszłości. przyjmowanie porażek. Dla nauczycieli jest to forma pracy. ale zdobywają umiejętności takie jak: odpowiedzialność. Wiedzą oni bowiem. zdrowej rywalizacji. Są szczególnie przydatne w przypadku powtórek przerobionego materiału. że są tego warte. Pomimo problemów jakie mogą się pojawić w trakcie zabawy gry są szeroko stosowane przez nauczycieli. uczniowie nie tylko uczą się lub powtarzają materiał językowy. która odsuwa nudę i monotonię. Uczący się zazwyczaj bardzo lubią ten rodzaj aktywności podczas zajęć. kreatywności itp. a ich motywacja do nauki wzrośnie. Jest to dla nich bardziej zabawna i relaksująca forma spędzania czasu na lekcjach w przeciwieństwie do ćwiczeń proponowanych w podręcznikach. metodą. Często nie zauważają nawet niedogodności i problemów z nim związanych. która wymaga od nich dokładnego przygotowania zajęć oraz nadzorowania ich przebiegu. dzielenie się obowiązkami z innymi. Gry są zabawnym i satysfakcjonującym doświadczeniem zarówno dla uczniów jak i nauczycieli.