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DONG NAI EDUCATION & TRAINING DEPARTMENT TRAN BIEN HIGH SCHOOL Code: ………………… USING GAMES TO TEACH ENGLISH IN HIGH SCHOOLS Teacher: Tran Thanh Truc Research area: Methodology in English Attached:  Model  Software 2011-2012  Movies  Others: CD Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School CONTENTS I. INTRODUCTION...............................................................................2 II. LANGUAGE LEARNING GAMES..................................................2 1. What is a game?................................................................................2 2. Why do teachers use games in their teaching?...............................2 3. Who are games for?..........................................................................2 4. When to use games?..........................................................................2 5. How to choose a game?.....................................................................2 III. SOME SUGGESTED WEBSITES.....................................................2 IV. V. MY TEACHING EXPERIENCE.......................................................2 1. Warm-up (5-10 minutes):..................................................................2 2. While- teaching:.................................................................................2 3. Post-teaching:....................................................................................2 Conclusion............................................................................................2 References...................................................................................................2 1 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School USING GAMES TO TEACH ENGLISH IN HIGH SCHOOLS I. INTRODUCTION Nowadays, English is not a strange language in almost every country in the world. In Vietnam, when asked “What foreign language are you learning?”, ninety percent of students will definitely answer “It is English”. In fact, English has become a compulsory subject in nearly all Vietnamese schools. Students have to learn this subject when they are in the grade three. Not only children but also adults have to learn English, which is one of the valuable tools for them to work effectively. Not surprisingly, language centers appear everywhere to meet this need. However, as Wright et al (1989) put it, “language learning is hard work. One must make an effort to understand, to repeat accurately, to manipulate newly understood language and to use the whole range of known language in conversation or written composition”. It used to be believed that “all learning should be serious and solemn in nature, and that if one is having fun and there is hilarity and laughter, then it is not really learning” (Lee, 1995). Lee asserts that this is a misconception and she adds we can learn a language and have happy time simultaneously. In order to help learners find language classes funnier and more interesting, games may be the best solution. Why do teachers nowadays use games in their teaching? Are games really useful? Can we choose any games we know for our students? This paper is to answer these 2 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School questions and relate to Vietnamese context. Then, I’ll give some useful websites that teachers can refer. II. LANGUAGE LEARNING GAMES 1. What is a game? First, we should know what exactly a language game is. According to Toth (1995), “A game is an activity with rules, a goal and an element of fun. There are two kinds of games: competitive games, in which players or teams race to be first to reach the goal, and co-operate games, in which players or teams work together towards a common goal. The emphasis in the games is on successful communication rather than on correctness of language”. Obviously, language games help learners know how to use the language instead of just thinking about learning the correct forms (Lee,1979) 2. Why do teachers use games in their teaching? Many experienced scholars have argued that games are not just time-filling activities but have a great educational value. It is used to be thought that games are 3 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School only used for warm-up activities or when there is some time left at the end of a lesson. Nevertheless, games can do more than that. Games have a lot of advantages. “games can lower anxiety, thus making the acquisition of input more likely” (Richard-Amato, 1988). Uberman (1998) says that according to Harsen, games are highly motivating and entertaining and they can give shy students more opportunity to express their opinions and feelings. He also extracted Wierus & Wierus’s idea when he says that “In the easy, relaxed atmosphere which is created by using games, students remember Class 11B6 (2008 – 2009) things faster and better. Wright et al (1989) find that with the use of games, the teacher can create various contexts in which students have to use the language to communicate, exchange information and express their own opinions. Lee (1995) lists a lot of advantages of games when using in the classrooms such as they are “a welcome break”, “motivating and challenging”, “provide language practice in the various skills”, etc. To sum up, games are useful and effective tools for teachers to apply in language classes. Using games helps to make the lessons more interesting, enjoyable, and effective. 3. Who are games for? 4 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School As Wright et al (1989) states, “Enjoyment of games is not restricted by age”. Everyone is able to enjoy games. However, teachers should be careful about choosing games if they want to make those games meaningful for the learning process. Different age groups demand different topics, materials, and modes of games (Uberman, 1998). Uberman (1998) gives an example basing on the one of Siek-Piskozub that games which require moving around, imitating a model, competing between groups and the like can attract children’s interest. Teenage learners maybe hesitate to play games. Many of them are anxious to learn English to pass examination or to improve their position that they think games are unnecessary. When teaching these people, we must respect their point of view and consider whether we should use games or not. 4. When to use games? 'Games are often used as short warm-up activities or when there is some time left at the end of a lesson. Yet, as Lee observes, a game "should not be regarded as a marginal activity filling in odd moments when the teacher and class have nothing better to do" (1979:3). Games ought to be at the heart of teaching foreign languages. Rixon suggests that games be used at all stages of the lesson, provided that they are suitable and carefully chosen.' 'Games also lend themselves well to revision exercises helping learners recall material in a pleasant, entertaining way. All authors agree that even if games resulted only in noise and entertained students, they are still worth paying attention 5 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School to and implementing in the classroom since they motivate learners, promote communicative competence, and generate fluency.' 5. How to choose a game? There are many factors to consider while discussing games, one of which is appropriacy. Teachers should be very careful about choosing games if they want to make them profitable for the learning process. If games are to bring desired results, they must Class 11B6 (2008-2009) correspond to either the student's level, or age, or to the material that is to be introduced or practised. Not all games are appropriate for all students irrespective of their age (Siek-Piskozub 1994:37). Different age groups require various topics, materials, and modes of games. For example, children benefit most from games which require moving around, imitating a model, competing between groups and the like (Siek-Piskozub 1994:38). Furthermore, structural games that practise or reinforce a certain grammatical aspect of language have to relate to students' abilities and prior knowledge. Games become difficult when the task or the topic is unsuitable or outside the student's experience. Tyson (2000) gives a list of advice for teacher to consider before selecting a game. 6 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School • A game must be more than just fun. • A game should involve “friendly” competition. • A game should keep all of Class 11B5 (2008-2009) the students involved and interested. • A game should encourage students to focus on the use of language rather than on the language itself. • A game should give students a chance to learn practice or review specific language materials III. SOME SUGGESTED WEBSITES In order to apply games in teaching language, teachers can use a variety of games. I think the following websites are very useful for teachers to consult. In these websites, teachers have a chance to find different games that are suitable for their students’ levels: from beginning to advanced. • www.gamequarium.com/languagearts.htm • www.languagegames.org/la/english.asp • www.transparent.com/language-resources/games • www.teachingenglishgames.com 7 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School • www.esl-galaxy.com/board.htm • www.btinternet.com/~ted.power/games.htm For more visual practice of using games, teachers can visit these two websites. They provide lively and interesting videos of applying language games which may be helpful for teaching. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtwDhKso2No • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaPZCV9KSH8&feature=related • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wam5PscoSjU&feature=related IV. MY TEACHING EXPERIENCE During my teaching, I have applied some games that made my students feel like participating in my lessons. Here are some examples. 1. Warm-up (5-10 minutes): For my warm-up activity, I chose the games that short, relating to the new lesson and competitive. For example, in unit 12 (The Asian Games), part B (speaking), before going into the tasks, I asked my students to play a competitive game. Its name is “Stop the Teacher instructs students before the game bus”. Here is the rule:  Put students into groups (maybe 4 groups) 8 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School  Give each group some pieces of paper.  Tell students “I will give you a letter. Then you have to find the name of the Asian country and the name of the sport that begin with that letter. Write down those names on the paper. Next run to the board to stick on the board. While you are running, shout “Stop the bus”. After some letters, the group that has the most correct names will be the winner. Are you ready?” Thanks to this game, I could lead in the new lesson very easily and my students also felt very excited about the new lesson. 2. While- teaching: While you are teaching, you also insert some games so that your students won’t feel the lesson is as dry as dust. For example, in unit 6 (Competitions), part A (Reading), instead of asking students to answer questions individually or in pairs, teachers can ask them to play the game “Lucky numbers”. Here is the rule:  Divide the students into two groups.  “There are 9 numbers on the wallchart. Among those numbers are lucky numbers and unlucky ones. If you choose the number that has the question, you will have to answer to get 10 points. There are some surprises in some numbers”  Number 1: what would be awarded to the winner? (question 6) 9 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School  Number 2: Who took part in the annual final English competition last       Sunday? (Question 1) Number 3: double points Number 4: What was the aim of the competition? (question 2) Number 5: Who sponsored the competition? (Question 3) Number 6: divided in half Number 7: double points Number 8: What did each group of students have to do during the contest? (question 4)  Number 9: What did the judges have to do to choose the winner of the competition? (question 5) Thanks to this game, my students found the task more interesting. 3. Post-teaching: For this part, there are a lot of games for the students. For example, the game “Slap the board”. This is a competitive game requiring students’ memory and quickness. I used this game in Unit 1 (Friendship) – part A (Reading) to check students’ memory of new words. Here is the rule:  Divide the students into two groups. Choose 10 students in each group.  Ask students to stand in two lines.  Teacher writes a number of new words that they have learned on the board in English.  Teacher reads Vietnamese meaning of one of those words loudly.  First students of two lines have to find out the equivalent English quickly and run to the board to slap on  Which student is faster will point.  Go on until the last students. it get 1 Class 11B6 (2008 – 2009) 10 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School My students liked this game very much. It helped them feel fun after a hard lesson. V. Conclusion In summary, the role of games in teaching languages cannot be denied. When using games to teach languages, teachers are able to bring relaxation and fun to students. Students can learn and remember words more easily. Moreover, games bring real world context into the classrooms. Therefore, students are able to communicate effectively. Games should be an integral part of the lesson, helping students practice language and enjoy themselves at the same time. Of course, not all the lessons need games. They should be used appropriately and flexibly in order that students are always eager for games. 11 Tran Thanh Truc – Using games to teach English in High schools - Tran Bien High School References Lee, S.K. (1995). Creative games for the language class. “Forum”, 33(1), pg. 35 Lee, W.R.(1979). Language teaching games and contests. Oxford: Oxford University Press Nguyen, T.T.H. & Khuat, T.T.N. (2003). The effectiveness of learning vocabulary through games. Asian EFL Journal, 5(4) Richard-Amato, P.A.(1988). Making it happen: Interaction in the Second language classrooms: From theory to practice. New York: Longman Toth, M. (1995). Children’s games. Oxford: Heinemann Publishers Tyson, R.E. (2000). “Serious” fun: Using games jokes and stories in the language classrooms. Class handout Uberman, A. (1998). The use of games: For vocabulary presentation and Revision. “Forum”, 36(1), pg.20 Wright, A., Betteride, D. & Buckby, M. (1989). Games for language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 12
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