Learn basic English with games? Playing games is a fantastic way to learn a language. For example, after teaching conversation at the Oxford English Academy for almost three years, there is one thing that is clear: Don’t force interest in conversation topics. But spontaneous bouts of competition and games are great for encouraging learning!

Learn basic English with games? In this post a teacher talks about how they got a low level class to speak by bringing in a game for them to play.

Learn Basic English Conversation with Games

If a topic of interest arises in a conversation lesson amongst the English students, it is always best to take a step back. You can allow the discussion to proceed and facilitate learners with the necessary vocabulary to express their views. I find, in this moment of authentic expression, that the fundamental terms, as well as grammar, can be taught to a student in order to facilitate personalised, functional communication.

I experienced one of these moments this week during my afternoon conversation class. The topic of this session was ‘camping’. And after an evening of meticulous preparation, I walked into the classroom with confidence that each activity would be fun and of interest to all who attended. As a warmer exercise I asked students to help me brainstorm words relating to camping which went fairly well, however, when I proceeded to the next phase of my lesson plan and asked students ‘who has been camping before?’, they stared back at me blankly.

My heart sank as I realised that almost every activity I had planned required students to have some knowledge of what camping entailed and furthermore, required them to share their own personal experiences. I spent a few minutes in a flat panic as I scanned through lists of prepared questions trying to find something they might be able to provide answers to.

Learn Basic English Conversation with Games that are Meaningful

I settled on the question ‘what might be the best activities to do on a camping trip?’. To my relief students listed ideas such as football, cooking and games. One of the students spoke eagerly about a card game she loved. The conversation went something like this….

Teacher: What do you call the game?

Student: Games

Teacher: Yes, but what is the name of the game?

Student: Games

Teacher: Well no, game, it’s singular because there is only one game.

Student: Games

Teacher: (silent)

Student: Teacher! The game is called ‘Games’

Teacher: Oh right =)

This moment spent lost in translation aroused the interest of the other students and within seconds a whirlwind of enthusiasm emerged as they began to express their love for this game.

A light bulb filament shone brightly in the nether regions of my creative brain.  I remembered that I had spotted a deck of playing cards in the teacher’s room just days before. I fetched the deck and before I knew it, every student was thoroughly involved in speaking. They all tried  to teach me the game and debated the ‘correct’ rules. It quickly became apparent that almost every country had a different approach to ‘Games’.

They laughed and joked and shared stories about times past playing this invigorating and, at times, highly strategic game. Before I knew it the lesson was over and the students were begging me to stay and play ‘just one more game of games’. Time flies when you’re having fun!

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