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by Erica Fischer on Jul 7, 2017

World Language Classroom Games

world-languageIn this summary, we show how #langchat participants explored the benefits of games in the language classroom. #Langchat teachers shared their favorite classroom games and strategies for increasing students’ proficiency through in-class games.

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How and When to Use Games in Class

#Langchat participants shared many ideas on how and when to implement games in the world language classroom. @rlgrandis said, “I often use games at the beginning and end of a unit – to introduce new things and review.” @BThompsonEdu added, “Review at the end of something.” On the other hand, #langchat teacher @KrisClimer uses games in the classroom all the time. “They’re fun. I think learning and school ought to be fun,” he said.

Others added to the discussion on how classroom games add fun to the learning experience.  @MlleSulewski implements games “as review of old material or when she can sense things have been too “heavy” and [there] needs to be some levity.” When students are restless, games can be a fun way to engage them in learning. Often, students may not even realize they are learning while playing a game. @ShannonRRuiz shared, “I do ‘sneak assessments’ by playing games. Games are a good way to assess those with test anxiety.” According to @VTracy7, “it’s the least painful way to get them learning. [Students] do not even realize [we teachers are] being sneaky.”

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Favorite Target Language Games

World Language Teachers shared some valuable resources by collaborating on what classroom games are the most popular among their students. The following list contains some favorite world language games.

  • Celebrity (the 3-round version) but with vocab. Played in small groups, not whole class.” (@MmeBlouwolff).
  • The marker game!(@SraWienhold).
  • “Our latest favorite is the Unfair Game” (@MlleSulewski).
  • “I’m always up for a good game of Bingo- do it with vocabulary and students can practice whatever language go with words” (@BThompsonEdu).
  • “Scategories, battleship, guess who- all adapted from real games” (@sharon_grele).
  • “Absolute #1 loved game by students is Piggy Bank. Rules & blanks in several languages are on my site.” (@ShannonRRuiz).
  • 4 corners (with a twist)” (@SraWienhold).
  • VerbaWhere Are Your Keys” (@magistertalley).
  • “This is my variation of the unfair game” (@Marishawkins)

How to use Games as a Source of Input

If used correctly, games can provide a great source of input in the world language classroom. “The best games for input need to move beyond the word/sentence level,” said @magistertalley. @magistertalley believes that “games that incorporate a story line work well for input.” Input can be given through the repetition of target language grammar, words, phrases, and sentences in a game. @SraWienhold said, “Almost every game I use is sneaky way of input. A [target language] question or statement that I read [and] then read again with [an] answer.”  On this topic, @KrisClimer believes that it all depends on the task. “If [students] are just reacting/choosing, they are intent on INPUT. [It’s] our job to make it within reach.” @kballestrini took the opportunity to remind teachers to make the game “meaningful” with “good alignment” with content goals; otherwise learners don’t transfer language from the game to a communicative purpose.  In other words, games should rarely or never be simply a “time filler.”

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Adapting Games to Meet Students’ Needs as their Proficiency Grows

#Langchat participants discussed how they can adapt their classroom games according to their students’ language needs and growing proficiency levels. @magistertalley stated, “Use games that can grow with the students that use simple mechanics and can be transferred into increasingly complex contexts.” @MmeFarab meets students’ language needs “by making sure the game uses vocab, etc. in context, and not in isolation.” If students are constantly using the target language, then their proficiency while talking about and describing the game will also grow. “A lot of games naturally grow as the students’ language grows” (@SraWilliams3).

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Role of Gamification in Pushing Students’ Proficiency

As @kballestrini pointed out, it’s “important to understand the difference between game-based learning and gamification.” Rather than simply using games to practice content, gamification is “the application of typical elements of game playing (rules of play, point scoring, competition with others) to other areas of activity, specifically to engage users in problem solving” (source). When using games in the classroom, [students] may be “willing to take a risk in [the target language] without “sacrificing” their grade” (@PamKMarkell). Another benefit of gamification is that it can intrigue the students through competition. @nathanlutz said, “My #earlylang students play @duolingo at home – and love how competitive it is.” According to @magistertalley, “True gamification is not something you can just add into what you do now, it requires making your course a game.”

Thank You

Many thanks to all #langchat participants for sharing your experiences with World Language Classroom Games. Thank you to our lead moderator, Wendy (@MmeFarab) for guiding this chat.

Elementary in Spanish
Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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