Why should I teach English through games?

Teachers are sometimes sceptical as to whether they should use games or not in the classroom, as they feel that it’s not ‘really teaching’. This is based on our past experience, including what we experience as ‘learning’ in school. The reality is that games are an excellent way to learn, but this is only just beginning to be accepted – even in eLearning, we see increase gamification and the use of games in training exercises.

Games are particularly suitable for learning language as they reduce learner anxiety, encourage participation, and fundamentally, communication. This is important because teaching English is about getting people to communicate, not passively memorise knowledge. For these reasons, there is more scope for interactivity and communicative games in the ESL classroom.

Of course, you don’t want to rely only on games – this is also a common mistake that new teachers make. Relying on games, particularly with young learners, can quickly become a habit that leads to complaints and poor learning outcomes.

Using games can be an incentive, particularly at the end of classes. It’s always nice to keep 10 minutes or so at the end of class to finish with a language learning game.