Aitzhanova K., Seydullayeva S.
University of Foreign Languages and Professional Career
The role of games on language lessons
Games offer students a fun-filled and relaxing learning atmosphere. After learning and practicing new vocabulary, students have the opportunity to use language in a non-stressful way. While playing games, the learners' attention is on the message, not on the language. Rather than pay attention to the correctness of linguistic forms, most participants will do all they can to win. This eases the fear of negative evaluation, the concern of being negatively judged in public, and which is one of the main factors inhibiting language learners from using the target language in front of other people. In a game-oriented context, anxiety is reduced and speech fluency is generated--thus communicative competence is achieved.
Games are also motivating. Games introduce an element of competition into language-building activities. Many experienced textbook and methodology manuals writers have argued that games are not just time-filling activities but have a great educational value. W. R. Lee holds that most language games make learners use the language instead of thinking about learning the correct forms. He also says that games should be treated as central not peripheral to the foreign language teaching programme. A similar opinion is expressed by Richard-Amato, who believes games to be fun but warns against overlooking their pedagogical value, particularly in foreign language teaching. There are many advantages of using games. "Games can lower anxiety, thus making the acquisition of input more likely" (Richard-Amato). They are highly motivating and entertaining, and they can give shy students more opportunity to express their opinions and feelings (Hansen). They also enable learners to acquire new experiences within a foreign language which are not always possible during a typical lesson. Furthermore, to quote Richard-Amato, they, "add diversion to the regular classroom activities," break the ice, "[but also] they are used to introduce new ideas". In the easy, relaxed atmosphere which is created by using games, students remember things faster and better (Wierus and Wierus). Further support comes from Zdybiewska, who believes games to be a good way of practicing language, for they provide a model of what learners will use the language for in real life in the future.
Games encourage, entertain, teach, and promote fluency. If not for any of these reasons, they should be used just because they help students see beauty in a foreign language and not just problems.
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 correspond to either the student's level, or age, or to the material that is to be introduced or practiced. Not all games are appropriate for all students irrespective of their age. 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. Furthermore, structural games that practice 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.
Another factor influencing the choice of a game is its length and the time necessary for its completion. Many games have a time limit, but the teacher can either allocate more or less time depending on the students' level, the number of people in a group, or the knowledge of the rules of a game etc.
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". 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. At different stages of the lesson, the teacher's aims connected with a game may vary:
Games also lend themselves well to revision exercises helping learners recall material in a pleasant, entertaining way. All authors referred to in this article agree that even if games resulted only in noise and entertained students, they are still worth paying attention to and implementing in the classroom since they motivate learners, promote communicative competence, and generate fluency. However, can they be more successful for presentation and revision than other techniques? The following part of this article is an attempt at finding the answer to this question.
Game with prepositions
Materials: Magazines to share in groups
Dynamic: Small groups
Time: 15 minutes
Procedure: 1. On the board, write a list of prepositions of place that the students have studied. Divide the students into groups of three or four and give each group several magazines. You may want to ask students to bring in their own. If you are supplying them, be sure that they have full-page ads or other large pictures.
2. Give the groups a time limit and have them search through their magazines to find a picture that contains situations illustrating prepositions of place.
3. When the time is up, each group goes to the front of the class, holds up its picture, and explains (in sentences) the contents of the picture, using prepositions of place.
Example: The dog is under the table.
The table is next to the man.
The table is in front of the window.
4. The group that found a picture allowing them to correctly use the most prepositions of place from the list on the board wins.
NOTE: With an intermediate group, choose a wider range of prepositions that they have already reviewed.
In the present qualification work we attempted to investigate the problem of game using at English language lessons, one of the main problems in theory of English grammar teaching. We chose the theme of our qualification work because we interested in it. We used different kind of references to investigate the role of games in teaching English.
Recently, using games has become a popular technique exercised by many educators in the classrooms and recommended by methodologists. Many sources, including the ones quoted in this work, list the advantages of the use of games in foreign language classrooms. Yet, nowhere have I found any empirical evidence for their usefulness in vocabulary presentation and consolidation.
Though the main objectives of the games were to acquaint students with new words or phrases and help them consolidate lexical items, they also helped develop the students' communicative competence.
The present material can be used at the lessons of grammar, practical course of English language, lexicology, and speech practice in both: universities and English classes at schools. This paper can help to create the teaching aids, textbooks, etc. Teachers and students might use the results of the present work for the further investigations.