Classroom Fun | UCT English Language Centre

All of our students at the UCT English Language Centre are hardworking, dedicated and serious about learning and making progress in learning English. Classes are focused and English teachers are well prepared and experienced. But, this doesn’t mean classes are jam packed with grammar exercises and long lectures on what is right and wrong in the English language. In fact, this is very far from the style we use to teach here. For more information on the teaching approach used at ELC, you can read about it here. We also have a lot of classroom fun!

Fun in the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classroom, plays a big role in learning. And by this, I don’t necessarily mean those informal discussions between students and teachers as a welcome break from some hard work, or an impromptu discussion – which also have their place in the classroom, but well-planned, formal, goal-oriented games or activities.

Typical games/activities that are used in an EFL classroom can range from card games (such as Memory), board games (like Scrabble) all the way through to acting out a play or staging a debate.

Can games/fun activities in the classroom really help students to learn English? Of course they can! And this is why;

1. Doing something fun and enjoyable actually helps keep students motivated, engaged and focused on something specific.
2. It provides an alternative, fun platform, and a different context, for practicing newly learned materials like vocabulary and can teach new skills, such as sportsmanship, critical thinking or teamwork.
3. Being active in the learning process and engaging with content means students form positive associations and create memories. Memory is quite helpful when you need to learn something new and remember it later!
4. Games, and or fun and interesting activities are a great way to engage people with different learning styles. One theory says there are 7 different learning styles:

Visual (prefer pictures, images and spatial understanding)
Aural (prefer sounds and music)
Verbal (prefer words, both in speech and writing)
Physical (prefer using body, hands and sense of touch)
Logical (prefer logic, reasoning and systems)
Social (prefer to learn in groups or with others)
Solitary (prefer working alone and self-study)

If we think about an activity in class such as role play in a restaurant where all students are sitting at a table with a menu and some props and a student waiter/waitress is standing by the table with a pen and paper to take down orders, we are able to address visual, verbal, physical and social learning styles in one activity.

5. Sometimes students and teachers just need a break from intensive, structured learning which requires hard work and effort, to relax your mind and refocus. Sometimes a game or activity doesn’t have to have a learning end-goal in itself, but can also just serve to relax the atmosphere and give the brain a break. This can easily be done with revision exercises, for example, where students are just having fun with language they already know and are practicing without even feeling like they are doing so.

For example, I recently had a class where I decided to practice some prepositions of place (in, on, under, next to). Students were divided into pairs and told to sit with their backs to one another. They were each handed a piece of paper with the same picture on it, but one student per pair had an incomplete picture (the sun, fisherman, house, dog, bridge, etc. were missing). They had to try and figure out what was missing and where the missing items needed to go (The sun must go above the hills on the right hand side, the dog is sitting next to the front door of the house…what house?). We played this game with a time limit, and students were so focused on getting all items in the picture within the time frame they forgot that they were actually practicing their prepositions! Looking at the pictures afterwards was very amusing and we all had a lot of fun!

So the next time you are told in class that you are going to play a game or do an activity, remember that there are so many benefits to learning English in this way. Even if you are not winning or feel slightly overwhelmed, you are being presented with context and this will help you in your long term goals.

If you are interested in learning more about us, feel free to to contact us at any time.

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