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Teaching Grammar Through Games

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Emily L.

on 2 November 2013

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Transcript of Teaching Grammar Through Games

Teaching Grammar Through Games
Should games be used to teach Grammar?
Research suggests...


Today we will talk about the theories that support this as well as practical applications to use in the classroom.
What is a game?
...as mentioned by Caillois (1957)
“A game is as activity that must have the following characteristics:
fun: the activity is chosen for its light-hearted character
separate: it is circumscribed in time and place
uncertain: the outcome of the activity is unforeseeable
non-productive: participation is not productive
governed by rules: the activity has rules that are different from everyday life
fictitious: it is accompanied by the awareness of a different reality”

What good are games?
Games promote learners' interaction , language acquisition, and achievement.

Another game!
Bingo – just one parts of speech (all nouns, adjectives, verbs) or each column a different parts of speech in different forms.
Knowing grammar form and rules does NOT equal Knowing grammar

Need to know how to USE grammar
Need to practice language to learn grammar
Through covert grammar teaching => “Covert grammar teaching where grammatical facts are hidden from the students, even though they are learning the language” (Harmer, P.3)
ESL Level 1 - 2
More reading and listening
Structured activities and lessons
According to Yolageldili and Arikan:
[A] child makes acquaintance with his environment, learns life and gains new instructions.” Ministry of National Education’s English Language Curriculum for Primary Education Grades 4,5,6,7 and 8 (2006) further claims that games should be a fundamental part of primary school education because they are motivating, contextualizing, and natural activities that make learning meaningful.
learners are motivated to learn the language when they are in a game.
students’ anxiety towards language learning decreases as games are employed.
Games are student-focused activities requiring active involvement of learners.
Communicative Approach
Practice the rules through activities (controlled practices) to reinforce the rules
Advantages: enjoyable, using language, assessing students’ levels, enhancing students’ levels, and taking a break from traditional teaching/learning (lecture and worksheets)
Using games to help students learn grammar consciously
ESL Level 3 - 4
More interactive activities
Speaking and using language with each other => covert
ESL Level 5 - 6
More overt grammar teaching (rules and explanations)
Able to handle new grammar without activities
Explicit and open teaching
Let's try a game!
Tic-Tac-Toe (Harmer, P. 48)
Insert verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. and they have to form a sentence or change them into other forms of speech
Divide the class into 2 teams and the first team to get a 3 in a row wins.
Kinds of games...
According to Lee (2000) (cited in Pham, 2007), games have been classified into ten kinds:
Structure games which provide experience of the use of particular patterns of syntax in
Vocabulary games in which the learners’ attention is focused mainly on words
Spelling games
Pronunciation games
Number games
Listen-and-do games
Games and writing
Miming and role play
Discussion games

Another classification of games by McCallum (1980) consists of seven kinds:
Structure games
Vocabulary games
Number games
Spelling games
Conversation games
Writing games
Role play and dramatics

How are games important?
Celce-Murcia (1979: p.54) argues that “in games, language use takes precedence over language practice, and in this sense games help bring the classroom to the real world, no matter how contrived they may be.”
McCallum (1980) explains that there are many advantages of games such as the fact that they
1. focus students’ attention on specific structures, grammatical patterns, and vocabulary items.
2. can function as reinforcement, review and enrichment.
3. involve equal participation from both slow and fast learners.
4. can be adjusted to suit the individual age and language levels of the students.
5. contribute to an atmosphere of healthy competition, providing an outlet for the creative use of
natural language in a non-stressful situation.
6. can be used in any language teaching situations and with all skill areas (reading, writing,
speaking or listening).
7. provide immediate feedback for the teacher.
8. ensure maximum student participation for a minimum of teacher preparation.
Moreover, they are imaginative and creative and they learn without being aware
of it. Besides, young learners use their previous experience, knowledge, several skills, and abilities which help the teacher present the new information by enabling children to practice the new knowledge on top of their previous knowledge (Nedomová, 2007, p. 28).
Game number 3!
MadLibs: comprehensible input and output, grammatical competence, formal schemata (knowledge of how discourse is organized with respect to different genres - with different genres of MadLibs) - open task (variety of answers) - focus on form (target grammatical items coming from context. Must know forms to deal with task)
From our old friends...
James Asher - Total Physical Response
Vygotsky - ZPD and increase interest and increase motivation. also simplify task for better learning
Canale and Swain - increase grammatical, sociolinguistic, strategic and discourse competence
Cummins - promotes BICS- basic interpersonal communication skills - cognitively undemanding and context embedded
Krashen - comprehensible input (easy in games)

I'm Going on a Picnic...
segmental (consonant and vowel sounds) as well as suprasegmental (stress, rhythm, intonation from repetition) - open task - fluency - accuracy (form focused)

Harmer, Jeremy. (1987). Teaching and Learning Grammar. New York: Longman Inc.

This book discusses teaching grammar through different approaches for native and ESL learners. Harmer discusses how students can successfully acquire grammar through step-by-step guided lessons and his book gives great suggestions in how teachers can create those lessons.

Herbert, B. (2012). Grammar games: A practical guide to teaching grammar in context. Practically Primary, 17(1), 21.

Luu Trong Tuan, & Nguyen Thi Minh Doan. (2010). Teaching english grammar through games. Studies in Literature and Language, 1(7), 61-75.

'This paper sought to review the literature on teaching English grammar encompassing an overview of grammar definitions and teaching grammar approaches, as well as definitions of games, classifications of games, the influence of using games on the language learners’ performance. Prior researches on teaching English grammar through games have also been examined.'

Umstatter, Jack. (2007). Got Grammar? Ready-to-use Lessons and Activities that make Grammar Fun. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

This book is a great resource for teachers because it includes both lessons and worksheets and activities a teacher could do with the class. The lessons are concise and easy to understand for both teacher and students. The book also has diagnostic tests and final tests to assess the students’ abilities. Furthermore, the book comes with writing activities for each lesson so the students can practice and reinforce the grammar.
Yolageldili, G., & Arikan, A. (2011). Effectiveness of using games in teaching grammar to young learners.10(1), 219-229.

'The primary aim of this study was to explore the effectiveness of using games in teaching grammar to young learners from the view points of Turkish EFL teachers working in primary schools. ...[T]his study demonstrated that Turkish EFL teachers have a range of conceptions about using games in grammar teaching similar to those reported in the current literature. The study suggests that while Turkish EFL teachers accept the effectiveness of using games in grammar teaching, they do not use games as frequently as expected in their classrooms.'
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