Using games in and out of the classroom


Studycat Editorial Team


Curriculum writer and games guru, Wade O. Nichols, discusses using games in and out of the classroom.

Immediacy of practice

Using games enables children to begin practicing new targets very shortly after those targets have been first introduced. In fact, it is possible to even use some games to first introduce language-learning targets. Such games foster an eagerness among learners to participate in language practice.

Game use inside the classroom

Games are naturally learner-centered activities. Education researchers have emphasized for over a century the value of classroom activities being learner-centered rather than teacher-centered.

Games that encourage children to interact in small groups in the classroom increase social interaction. Not only do children learn the language targets set forth by the game rules, but also they increase their social interaction with others. Learning to interact socially with others is a recognized key domain of early childhood development. Games also act to improve children’s communicative competence, which is the ultimate goal of modern communicative language teaching approaches.

Such turn-taking small group games also ensure that children are given many more chances to practice language targets than do typical whole-class activities.

Game use outside the classroom

By leveraging modern technologies such as mobile device apps, we can now enable children to play language-learning games outside of the classroom, virtually anyplace they may go. Because the learning is set in engaging games, not only do they become usable outside the classroom, but children will be much more motivated to practice outside of classes than they would be to do a more traditional homework assignment.

Such language learning apps enable teachers and parents to receive reports as to a particular learner’s out-of-class practice and their increasing level of proficiency in the form of scores, improved times, etc.

Basically, games create a meaningful context for language use whether the child is inside or outside of the classroom. Presenting language-learning targets within meaningful contexts is essential in order for children to see value in their language practice.