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What Are the Different Types of TEFL Games?

T. Carrier
T. Carrier

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) can be a challenging process. Many teachers have adapted popular game formats in order to make the process a fun and accessible experience, and TEFL games may be created in a number of ways. Quizzes and board games are two popular formats that have been used in TEFL classes. Some game types also take advantage of the interest in drawing and card games that has taken root in many regions of the world. Language acquisition and other skills can be further developed with team games.

TEFL games are part of a task-based learning approach that emphasizes hands-on learning with frequent interaction between the teachers and students. In addition to sparking the student’s interest, a games-based teaching style can help students apply textbook and lecture information in a concrete and meaningful manner through listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Such an active learning approach is likely to better encode lessons into the brain. English in particular is a language that has many rules and just as many exceptions to those rules, and rote memorization may not adequately cover all of the language’s complexities.

Vocabulary cards for learning English.
Vocabulary cards for learning English.

Teaching TEFL and TEFL games are only limited by the imagination of the teacher. Board games with written English instructions, constructed pieces, and dice may prove useful. Since pictures and images need no language, they are often an effective bridge to understanding as well. Teachers might, for example, draw a picture of an object and have students compete to see who can guess the English word for the image first. Even a modification of Hot Potato games could work well for students, where an object is tossed between individuals and whoever has the object must answer a question quickly.

Quiz games are prevalent in many regions, and TEFL games can effectively adopt this format as well. The typical quiz game involves one individual asking a question and expecting a correct response. A set of questions may be asked to one individual, after which a score for correct answers is tabulated. Other variations might include asking a question to a group of individuals and seeing who is quickest with a correct response or giving a command and determining who can correctly carry out the command. TEFL teachers could thus ask questions based on already-studied material and create an impromptu quiz show, or they could play a version of Simon Says and give light-hearted commands in English for the students to perform.

Flash cards are a long-time instructional tool for many disciplines, and they can be equally effective as TEFL games. A teacher might place individual words, pictures, or definitions on a card. Students then might be tasked with matching words to pictures or definitions. Scores could be tabulated to make the game more competitive in nature. Another approach might involve leaving cards face down and turning them right side up to make matches.

In addition, interactive partnering games can help individuals learn English and improve teamwork and social skills at the same time. These games may involve variations of the above formats. Other types could take on a telephone game format, in which one member of the team must remember a piece of information like a set of words or a phrase and then transmit this information correctly to the other team member. Even simple question and answer sessions in which the team members get acquainted with each other via English could prove invaluable.

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    • Vocabulary cards for learning English.
      By: Gembo
      Vocabulary cards for learning English.