“Life is more fun if you play games.” - Roald Dahl, My Uncle Oswald

Would you like to include more games in your language classes?

Games are useful in helping students learn new vocabulary and linguistic skills as associating learning with play can also make the learning process more effective as students often don’t even realise how much they’re learning.

Whether they’re learning English as a foreign language, mastering Spanish grammar, or taking French classes, games should always be welcome in language classes.

In this article, Superprof’s going to show you the advantages of using games in language lessons.

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Effortlessly Learning Language Skills

Gamification involves turning activities that aren’t usually fun into games and is a simple way to make learning fun. Though it’s not just about having fun, it’s about having fun while learning.

How can students gain language skills through play?
Students that are asleep learn far less so make your lessons fun and engaging. (Source: FeeLoona)

There are 7,000 languages across the world from Mandarin Chinese, which is spoken by billions, to minority languages with only a few hundred speakers, but no matter which language you're learning, you can always make learning them fun.

You can involve language learning in board games and card games as they can be learning or using language skills while also playing.
Students can enjoy learning languages with:

  • Interactive resources
  • Speaking in groups
  • Apps
  • Games

With everything from cheap traditional games to modern apps, students have no excuse for being bored in language classes.
The goal is to engage them with fun activities so they learn without even realising.

Here are some simple games that can spruce up your language lessons:

  • 20 Questions
  • Pictionary
  • Taboo
  • Guess Who?
  • Time’s Up

If your classroom has computers, tablets, or even VR headsets, there are plenty of apps and sites that you can use to make the lessons more fun.

There are plenty of sites that have gamified language learning:

  • Babbel
  • MosaLingua
  • Duolingo
  • Memrise

Students can use these apps for a few minutes each day as a digital complement to their other language lessons. These apps can also be used by students of different ages and levels.

Learn more about using games in language lessons

Creating an Environment where Language Acquisition Happens Naturally

Teachers need to create an environment that’s conducive to learning a language and this often happens best when students are relaxed and having fun.

Which are the most enjoyable ways to learn languages?
Games can make lessons fun but what you're doing is creating an environment where learning happens naturally. (Source: vinsky2002)

Ritualisation is also important as students can learn effectively through repeating everyday activities or by role-playing them, too.

Games can also be used as a reward as students are more inclined to follow a lesson on German grammar if they know that when they finish, they get to play a game.

Students learning through play will also be less stressed about making mistakes in the target language, too, which is often the best way to learn.

Putting the language used in context will also help students to value the importance of their language lessons by showing them how their language skills can be used.

Games like jacks and marbles that were popular in the 80s can be just as popular as Fortnite and Pokémon cards in a classroom environment.

You need to ensure that the students are excited about the game they’re going to play and that it’ll allow them to learn new linguistic skills or practise using them.

Learn about teaching foreign languages with games

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Encourage Students to Do Their Homework and Get Their Parents Involved in Their Learning

Games can be a source of motivation for students as they allow them to take control of their learning. In other terms, it encourages them to teach themselves. Students will want to play a game either as a reward for finishing their work or as a way to learn without realising.

How can you involve parents in the learning process?
Give students homework that parents can be involved in. (Source: Design_Miss_C)

Homework can also be gamified and a student’s homework could be to play a game with their family. This is also a great way to involve the parents in the learning process as the student can work on their language skills while also showing them off to their parents.

They can also further cement their learning by teaching their parents something new. Similarly, this is another opportunity to practise new vocabulary or grammar. The game, through association, can also act as an aid to memory.

Check out the most enjoyable ways to learn foreign languages

Encouraging Interaction and Speaking

Games in class are a way for students to interact and speak with one another and are a fun way to get students (even the shy ones) to talk, which is one of the core language skills.

Fun activities are a way to make repetitive activities more enjoyable, especially when it comes to new vocabulary or working on pronunciation. Furthermore, games can get students to stand up and move around, which can improve memorisation, especially in kinesthetic learners.

Games can also teach other useful skills like teamwork as some games force students to work together and help one another while also teaching sportsmanship and a respect for rules.

Games are a powerful tool because they involve interacting with others; exactly what languages are used for.

Improving the Relationship between the Teacher and the Student

Rather than being the teacher’s pet, every student will like their teacher if their lessons are fun.

Students in foreign language lessons have to want to communicate with others and they’ll often have to speak with the teacher and the other students. Usually, there’s a clear hierarchy with the teacher at the top.

However, playing games can make students feel more like the teacher is on their level and will be more open to speaking without fear of making mistakes rather than just not speaking at all. This also makes correcting errors easier as the students won’t see you as correcting them just to bust their chops.

Don’t forget that you’re still there to teach foreign languages. If students like your lessons, it’s more likely they’ll learn better and the results will be better and, in addition to teaching them, you’ll have the satisfaction of having taught a good lesson.

The better the students are feeling about learning, the better you’ll feel about teaching them and in this sense, games are an excellent educational tool that shouldn’t be ignored.

Learn how to make your language lessons more fun

Bring Something New to Language Lessons

Learning a language isn’t just about learning the rules, vocabulary, and grammatical structures.

How can you plan interesting language lessons?
Make your lessons interesting so that students will want to learn. (Source: EME)

Learning a foreign language will allow you to:

  • Learn about new countries
  • Learn about people, their culture, and their customs
  • Gain a greater appreciation for other peoples and cultures

These are concepts that you can spend your whole life learning and language classes are a way to learn more about the world and the people who live in it. The cultural side of things can show students how useful language skills can be rather than them seeing language lessons as an arbitrary subject that they just have to study.

One of the best ways to discover new cultures is by playing games popular in said cultures. You use games to teach manners, greetings, and cultural norms through games and role-playing.

Podcasts and videos are also useful digital resources to help students understand accents and conversations that native speakers would have.
They can show them how people live in the countries where the language they’re learning is spoken.

With fun and engaging activities, you can bet that your students will look forward to your classes and an opportunity to learn.

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.

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Daniel

A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.