You Think It’s A Game? You Bet!
I use games with my students frequently. It might seem obvious that learning through play works well with younger students, but I find that even older students, such as teenagers, benefit from games.
Many games are more obviously educational than others. Some are aimed directly at practicing punctuation, capitalization, past tense verbs, etc. But other games seem to be nothing more than creating something fun. Of course, creating something fun has its own merits, but you can also coax deeper understanding from practically any game.
Especially with my virtual English Language Learners, essentially any game can lead to better communication and understanding. When students have to give me very clear directions about what I should select, they’re generally more invested in making sure I understand.
Even something as simple as “Make a Pizza” from abcya.com gives kids an opportunity to be creative and have some control over what’s going on. And even a request as seemingly ridiculous as “100 pieces of mozzarella” on that pizza can lead to some valuable information. While that student was counting to 100, I realized that he not only didn’t know the “decades,” such as thirty, forty, and so on, he also skipped the number 14. After that, I knew we had a particular concept to cover.
I had another student who wanted to make a (his words) “Toxic Pizza.” His aim was to make the most disgusting pizza possible, which gave us to opportunity to talk about food groups, likes and dislikes, and a cornucopia of excellent adjectives.
Games may seem like nothing more than a distraction, with little value when it comes to learning, but the opposite is true. Learning has everything to gain from fun and enjoyment.