Did you know – Educational Games are Winning the Battle of Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages?
For so long educational games have been seen as short warm-up activities, time wasters, or else something to do when there is some time remaining before the actual class time or left at the end of the lesson. Contributing factors to these perceptions include what has been seen as an excuse that most syllabus does not include games as either, and so games cannot be used as much as they should be, and they would cause chaos in learning environments anyway (Dadheech, 2016). Thus, it’s hard for teachers to add games in class even when they facilitate learners to achieve the target language’s learning goals or proficiency. Arguably, however, even if games result primarily in noise and entertainment, they are still worth paying attention to and be included in the classroom. Evidence benefits learners gain, including motivating and promoting communication, to mention a few. Groff, Howells, & Cranmer (2010) asserts that games should not be regarded as a marginal activity filling in awkward moments or when the teacher and class have less or nothing to do. Further, they ought to be at the centre of teaching foreign languages, and they should be used at all stages of the lesson (also see, Dadheech, 2016). This piece will focus on what educational games are, why and how they are adopted in a classroom and finally touch on some economic aspects of multilingualism in general.
Why Games Anyway?
Before jumping to why games should be considered in learning a new language, it is helpful to have a shared understanding and a clear definition of educational games. To set the tone, they are not time westers activities to break the ice before, in between or after class. (Mubaslat, 2012) says that games are plays characterized by rules. They are meant to be enjoyed and seen as a way of having learners use the target language as they play. Thus, rule (s) and goal (s) are essential, and an aspect of fun too. The widespread core reason as to why games should be considered appropriate and of so much help is that they captivate motivation, and learners are most likely to get absorbed in the winning aspect of the games. Further, as evidenced, learners push harder at games than in other courses (Admin, 2014). It is with an understanding that when playing, learners intend to win on their behalf or teammates, which brings in competition. While being driven by the competitive mood, it highly possible for educators to introduce students to new concepts, ideas, grammar, and new words. A point in case is when students are playing the dictation game; they are so completive, and all they want is to beat their opponents, harder and firster. The observation, in this case, is that games attract learners attention and participation. Students want to learn more, and a boring class can easily be transformed into a fun one and challenging.
Also, learners learn without noticing they are learning (Groff et al., 2010). A typical example would be when playing the game named “What would you do if?” in this case students normally choose one random question from there a list either given or prepared before ( mostly by themselves). Some of these questions might be “ what would you do if a dog comes in this classroom?” the respondent will most likely have to use one of the answers practised in class or written somewhere; this may be “ I would be a fly.” The likelihood is that the questions and answers they give do not necessarily match at all, and so in this case, student have to use their imaginations to defend themselves. The defence might be, “ if a dog comes in this class, I would be a fly because I’m a good person, so an angel would come and rescue me by turning me into a fly.” Note, grammar is not of so much interest because the intended goal is to communicate and show how it can happen and make it more fun and interactive in the classroom (also see Learning Games, 2018). As an educator, it becomes an excellent opportunity to throw in some correction in case of any grammatical error and some grammatical rules. Thus, so, students will be learning unconsciously, without necessarily realizing they are learning. Interestingly, learners stop thinking so much about the language; instead, they begin using it in a very spontaneous and flowing manner within and outside the classroom.
Despite the above mentioned rich reasons, few refutations have been projected. These include (Lee & Hammer, 2011) who perceive learning as a serious process and solemn and that if learners have fun and laughing throughout, then it not learning. Unfortunately, this was seen as presumptuous, misconception and the word “ serious” makes less sense. Arguably, and evidently, learners can learn a language and experience joy, and one of the best ways has always been through games (Zirawaga, Olusanya, & Maduki, 2017). Games push students to interact and communicate. They give meaningful context to use a language without mentioning collaboration and team working spirit, among many other advantages (Also, see Dadheech, 2016). Other games that can be very useful include “fishing game”, where the educator writes sentences on a paper, each with a missing item/vocabulary, and “revision cards”.
What should be considered when choosing a game
As Zirawaga et al., (2017) said, context and whether or not a particular game fit a learner’s language level matters. Thus, when choosing a game, it is essential to consider the game that includes the intended end goal, students’ characteristics (age and level of motivation), and the appropriate time to use the game. Standard features of a good match include being more than just fun, and somewhat educational. Games should involve competition, keep students engaged and motivated, focus more on utilization than the language itself (Also see, Admin, 2014). Lastly, a game should give students a chance to grow, practice, or visit specific language materials – grama and readings. As an educator, the main goal is to determine which game to use, the appropriate time and how best to connect it with the syllabus or any other materials, then envision how different games will gain learners differently. Could there be another aspect of economic benefits of learning a foreign language, so that when even teaching it, appropriate methods are adopted?
Economic benefits associated with foreign languages
Several benefits can be prevented from knowing one language at the personal level and on a country level. Starting with the individual level, it has been evident that learning more than one languages enhances higher-earning chances. For example, a study conducted by the University of Guelf found that bilingual men in Canada earn 3.6%, and women adding 6.6% more than those who speak only one language – either France or English only (Guelph, 2015). In the same fashion, in Florida, employees with the ability to speak more than one language ( Spanish and English) can make up to $7,000% more than those who speak English only (Florida, 2015). It is unfortunate to have a shortage of information regarding benefits associated with multilingualism on the African continent, but it is safe to say that Africans enjoy the same services. The simple reasoning is that if one knows more than one language, they can quickly secure employment or work with institutions requiring a different language from the native one, hence earning growing economically.
On a country, level, and start-ups, foreign languages have shown to have tremendous benefits. In a study conducted by Hogan-Brun, (2017), a linguistic researcher at the University of Bristol demonstrates these benefits by comparing Switzerland and Britain. While Switzerland’s portion of the total GDP – up to 10% –is associated with multilingualism potentials, Britain loses out to 3.5% of the GDP each year to relative poor language skills among British ( Also, see, Bradley, 2012; Richardson, 2014). The notion here is that languages can be insanely valuable, particularly in building trade relations. This can be evidenced by a study on start-ups and medium-sized institutions in countries like Germany, and Denmark, showing that those who increased with abilities to speak more than one language could export more good (Brandt, 2014). Therefore, if multilingualism is essential on a personal level and a national, it crucial to allow games in the learning progress since it been proven to tremendously facilitate the process.
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