“Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.” - Scott Hayden
The role of languages in modern society has never been more important and students really should have a second language in addition to their mother tongue, especially if they’re looking to work in business, academia, etc.
Foreign language education is becoming an increasingly important part of education and more and more professionals are joining the job market with foreign language skills.
A lot of studies have shown that learning foreign languages is improved by fun activities like board games, role-playing, and card games and to make sure students are ready and prepared with the right language skills, their teachers should look to games to motivate them.
Using Games to Learn Foreign Languages
Educational games are a great way to promote foreign language skills or English skills for students learning English as a foreign language (EFL).
Games should be:
- Engaging for both the students and teacher
Games also ensure that students can learn while also encouraging them to interact with their classmates.
Far from dry grammar and vocabulary exercises, games can make students more relaxed and less worried about making errors.
They can also help students with:
- Speaking and listening
- Understanding the cultures of the target language
- Public speaking
The teacher can use games to make lessons fun while also helping students to learn as they won’t even realise that they’re “working” as they learn.
In recent years, language learning has shifted towards more engaging and fun approaches. Nowadays, students can get a broader range of foreign language courses from their schools and there are also courses available for those wishing to learn English in the UK.
Adapting to the Students, their Age, and their Level
Every teacher must adapt their courses and lessons to their students.
Learning a new language or even your first language takes a lot of work and games are an excellent educational tool in any language course. Of course, the teacher needs to have a good idea of why they’re using a particular game and what it’ll teach their students so if you have very young students, you’ll want simple speaking games.
You can always ask young students to name different categories of objects, people, and things like:
- Rooms in the house
These simple games can help students to improve their pronunciation while also learning new vocabulary.
Once students know how to read, it’s a good idea to move onto something more complicated and encourage students to interact with one another while focusing on things like vocab, expressions, grammatical rules, etc.
Pupils in primary school will probably be learning with their long-term education in mind. You can plan a course and what they learn across the academic year. Set them regular challenges to achieve across different lexical groups. Like other subjects, language students tend to learn by studying topics and themes. Challenges can encourage them to compete with their classmates while also instilling a sense of camaraderie with their classmates, especially through group work.
Secondary school students will enjoy digital resources like video games, websites, and multimedia resources. A lot of common board games and parlour games have digital versions that you could use to engage students, too.
Despite what many wrongly think, video games can be a useful learning tool, especially when it comes to learning a foreign language. Groups of students can play games in the target language or their mother tongue with subtitles in the target language.
Essential Games for Teaching Children Languages
It’s important to alternate the type of resources you use in your classes to ensure the students remain engaged.
There are thousands of educational games you can use in class and aside from being fun, they’re also a great way for students to learn. Some games are better than others for students of certain ages so it’s important to take this into account when choosing games and resources.
Whether it’s using a typical deck of cards or card games made by the students, cards are useful tools in language lessons.
This is great for learning vocabulary while having fun and it’s a game that you can buy cheaply or make yourself.
- To make your version, cut out several pairs of 5x5cm cards on blank paper.
- On half the cards, write the words to learn in the target language on half of the cards and write their equivalents in English on the other half.
Turn the cards over one by one and if they have a matching pair, they can keep them, if not, turn the cards back over so they can’t see what’s written on them. The winner is the student with the greatest number of pairs.
This game is very simple as you just have to write the names of famous people, animals, or objects on cards or sticky notes.
Each player has to stick the card or sticky note to their forehead so they can't see what's written on it but everyone else can. They then take turns to ask a maximum of 20 closed questions to try and ascertain what’s written on their card, hence the name of the game.
If you have a larger group of students, you can split them into smaller groups with different themes in each group.
Students should be encouraged to use certain target vocabulary and grammar by using closed questions.
Board games are a great way to get groups of students to play and learn at the same time. Here are some great ones for language classes.
Time’s Up is a popular game with teachers as the game is played in teams, which is great for larger groups. Players have to guess the names of celebrities, works, or animals being described by their teammates.
This is very similar to games like Taboo or Articulate! with a few interesting differences that can make the game more educational.
For total immersion in a foreign language, videogames and interactive media can get students to use their target language.
Generally, students are forced to get the target language right if they want to progress in the game. This can make interactive media a powerful tool for learning languages.
Here's one that a lot of younger students will love.
Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu
Suitable for children aged 7 and upwards, this game is great for learning languages. Several language settings are available on the cartridge and students can use it to learn, especially if they’ve been unwilling to try purely educational games.
It’s also a great way for kids to battle their Pocket Monsters in a familiar world that’s easy to understand.
Games are an important part of an effective learning strategy because they’re fun and can be played by students of all ages and levels.
If you need some help, why not get some from a private tutor on Superprof?
Whether you're looking to improve your language skills or learn new teaching approaches, private tutoring is an excellent way to learn exactly what you want, when you want.
On the Superprof website, you can find tutors offering face-to-face tutoring, group classes, or online tutoring and each comes with some important advantages and disadvantages you'll want to consider.
Face-to-face tutorials are particularly effective as the tutor will focus on you and your learning, but they'll also tend to charge more per session as they have to plan and tailor each lesson to each student and, in some cases, travel to each of their students' home. Fortunately, you'll get a bespoke learning experience, making these types of lessons among the most cost-effective.
Group tutoring is excellent if you're on a budget and are particularly useful for language lessons. While having a tutor all to yourself to practise your language skills can be useful, having a group of similarly able students in a class allows everyone to practise with different people and learn from one another.
If you can't find any suitable or available tutors in your local area, don't forget that you can always broaden your search to include online tutors from all over the world. With foreign languages, this is also useful as you'll always find greater numbers of tutors teaching the language you want to learn in the country where it's most commonly spoken.
The platform that connects tutors and students