Games and Activities in the EFL Classroom
Games—they’re not just for young learners. Playing games and jazzing up your lessons with intriguing activities are an essential part of the dynamic English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom.
Through playful situations, you, the teacher, create a no-stress situation where students can use the day’s target language. Best of all, most games require some repetition, so the students will use the language or structures over and over and build up good language habits.
When planning your EFL classes, you’ll most likely start with a “warm-up” or “icebreaker”—typically an activity that relaxes the students and settles them down ready for class. This warmer can often be a game—which immediately sets a fun tone for the rest of the classtime.
Later in the class, in the practice and production stages of the lesson, you’ll probably plan in some structured activities–and while this is the real meat of the lesson–who says these can’t be lighthearted and fun as well?
At the very end of class, time permitting, you may want to review structures or language with a short English-based game before the students go to break.
What you want is to let your class unwind a little, have a few laughs, then work harder in the middle before finishing on a fun, high note.
You’ll find that if you follow this basic process of beginning and ending with a playful, stress-reducing activity or game, the students will likely be more motivated for the next class session.
Any long-term EFL teacher will tell you that they keep a few fave games or activities up their sleeves, ready to go with limited prepwork. These will save your bacon any time you’re asked to substitute for another teacher and haven’t had time to prepare a proper lesson. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual in ESL to be asked to fill in at a moment’s notice.
If you want to build your own repertoire of games and fun activities to spice up your lessons, browse the Internet to find some ideas. A great place to start the search is at Dave’s ESL Cafe here: ESL EFL Games
TED’s Tips™ #1: After browsing games at Dave’s ESL Cafe and some other sites, make a list of five or more games that you think you’ll have fun with. Don’t just write them down, however, also consider how you can use the games in different settings, with different age or skill levels, and adapted to different target language or topics.
TED’s Tips™ #2: Google (or Yahoo or whatever you do) the terms “ESL Games” and “EFL Games” and browse through the umpteen results to get some easy, multipurpose games. Luckily for you, there are tons of ESL game resources on-line.