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Teaching Grammar with Fun Learning Games

Teaching English grammar can be hard going - for the teacher
and the students. It doesn't have to be difficult or
painful, however. You can teach English grammar using fun
learning games and before you know it your students will be
more than willing. How does it work, you ask. Well, there
has been a movement away from the traditional methods of
teaching English grammar through writing, rewriting and
worksheets to using a more active approach through games.
Researchers have also begun to look at how and why these
new methods work.

Four sound reasons to teach grammar with games

1. Arif Saricoban and Esen Metin, authors of "Songs,
Verse and Games for Teaching Grammar" explain how and
why games work for teaching grammar in an ESL classroom.
They say, "Games and problem-solving activities, which
are task-based and have a purpose beyond the production of
correct speech, are the examples of the most preferable
communicative activities." They go on to explain that
grammar games help children not only gain knowledge but be
able to apply and use that learning.

2. Additionally, games have the advantage of allowing the
students to "practice and internalise vocabulary,
grammar and structures extensively." They can do this
because students are often more motivated to play games than
they are to do desk work. Plus, during the game, the
students are focused on the activity and end up absorbing
the language subconsciously. One can also add that fun
learning games usually contain repetition, which allows the
language to stick.

3. While games are motivating for the students, probably
the best reason, according to Saricoban and Metin, to use
games is that "the use of such activities both
increases the cooperation and competition in the
classroom." One can use games to add excitement
through competition or games which create bonding among
students and teacher.

4. Aydan Ersoz, author of "Six Games for the ESL/EFL
Classroom" also explains more reasons why games do
work for teaching grammar. Learning a language requires
constant effort and that can be tiring. Ersoz says games
can counter this as because:

* Games that are amusing and challenging are highly
* Games allow meaningful use of the language in context.

Children are more motivated to learn grammar with games

The theory of intrinsic motivation also gives some insight
as to why teaching grammar through games actually works.
Intrinsic motivation refers to the internal factors that
encourage us to do something. Most young learners will not
internally decide that they want to learn grammar. They
don't yet understand the concepts of why it's important to
know proper grammar, so these external factors won't affect
them much either. Instead, intrinsic motivation can lead
encourage them to play games. If these games are good then
they will be learning while they are playing.

Using some movement is crucial because movement helps
activate the students' mental capacities and stimulate
neural networks, thus promoting learning and retention.
If you have a large class with no space you still have
options. Children can stand up, sit down, move various
body parts and pass things around to each other. Movement
does not only mean children tearing around the playground.

What Kinds of Games Work Best?

When you are looking for games to use in your classroom,
don't just pick something to be a "time filler"
which does not have a definite linguistic outcome. These
games may entertain the students, but when you don't have
much time with them each day as it is, you want your game
to do double duty to get the most out of the time you spend
playing games.

Have a clear linguistic outcome for each game. The game
can be a listening game to allow the students to repeatedly
hear a new grammatical structure in use, or it can be a
speaking game to allow practise of the grammar once it has
been absorbed through listening beforehand. There are
degrees of difficulty with speaking games from basic
repetition in a fun context to more creative sentence
creation for revision or more advanced practise once the
basics have been mastered. The teacher should lead the
children through this progression so that the game at hand
is always well within the grasp of the students. This
makes games fun rather than laborious. It is a mistake to
play a speaking game immediately after the new grammar has
been presented. Ideally reading, spelling and writing
games come after the new grammar has been absorbed and the
students can use it orally.

Another thing to watch out for with grammar games is that a
maximum of students are involved simultaneously. If you
have thirty children you want to avoid a game where only
one child is speaking at a time. What are the other
twenty-nine children supposed to do in the meantime other
than get bored? On the other end of the scale however are
games that cause chaos in class and make teachers unpopular
with colleagues because of high noise levels. A variety of
suitable games are available for you to try free in the
resource box below the article.

Now you can stop the eye-rolling and complaining from your
students when you even THINK about teaching them a grammar
lesson, and have some productive fun.

Shelley Vernon has helped 1000s of teachers be an
inspiration to their pupils and achieve results 2x as fast.
Improve the effectiveness of your lessons by up to 80%.
Receive free English language games now on

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