Unit 6 – Games and Quizzes

It is now recognised that games are not time fillers or fun exercises just to make the students relax or like the teacher. It’s clear that games and quizzes have educational value, quite a lot in fact. Games can help the students really use the language, rather than think about which form is correct to use. This is because they are focused on the goal rather than the process itself. It is well established that people learn more effectively when they are relaxed and if they enjoy what they are doing they are also more likely to participate in a given task. Some more advantages for using games and quizzes are:

  • They can act as a break from the routine;
  • They help motivate and challenge students;
  • They help directly practise various skills, depending on the game;
  • They directly encourage communication and interaction;
  • A suitable game, at the right time, can add context to the taught material.

When to use games

Games started out as fun warm-ups and great activities if you had a little time left at the end of the lesson. They still are great for that, but they can be so much more.

Revision: they can turn something that is normally tedious into something entertaining.

Vocabulary: if games are said to motivate and challenge students and we know if we make the process fun it improves students’ retention, then why not use games and quizzes for learning vocabulary?

Skills for effective development of skills: it is easier when the student is not focusing on speaking or structure but rather on getting their point across.

Games for children

When using games with children, there is an increased health and safety risk. It may also be difficult for you to explain what you want. However, games are perfect for children because they naturally use games to discover and interact with their environment. Young children don’t really have a sense of learning, but they certainly understand playing. And remember, as children, we all learnt to speak English (or our native language) through playing games.

Choosing the correct game

  • The game must match the language level of the student. Your students may all be Nobel Prize winners, but without a good level of English, Trivial Pursuit is out the window.
  • The game should include competition. Make sure it is kept friendly, but you might have to invoke competition by giving out prizes or forfeits.
  • The game should be more than just entertaining; it should fit into the theme of the lesson. If you are teaching food then the game of Hangman should use food vocabulary.
  • The game you chose should keep the whole class involved and participating, even if that is just listening to others for part of the game.
  • The rules to the game should be clear for the level of the student. It doesn’t help having a great game if you can’t explain what you want your students to do.