Countless studies have shown. that children, and for that matter adults, learn more effectively when they are enjoying themselves. This is true across every subject and English is no different. It is also perhaps the most cross-curricular lessons we could learn! Although not mentioned as much teachers also perform better when they are having fun as well. There is nothign but a little creatively stopping us all making our lessons more enjoyable for ourselves and our students. So ditch the flash cards and lets spend 20 minutes making our next lesson both more enjoyable and more effective for both our students and ourselves!.
Making English lessons enjoyable for students is beneficial on a number of levels. It can be achieved by introducing new and dynamic activities, considering their interests when planning, addressing multiple intelligences and learning styles and differentiating both the instruction and assessment methods.
We have links to games and activities you can try through out the article so look out for them, but lets look at some of the theory behind this as well.
Students learn better by connecting their interests to classes. If you are teaching English as a second language, do not alienate students who are from different cultures. Connect the lessons to their native tongue. If you are teaching native English speakers, you want the work to be authentic. Making up sentences and having students diagram them is not as effective as having them create the sentences themselves. Let students think about the topics that are of interest to them so that they can analyze their sentences and responses rather than someone else’s.
Pick topics that are relevant to them, from Dinosaurs to K-POP and incorporate it into lessons activities. Utilizing projects and project work allows them to take ownership of their own work and not merely reproduce a text book task. Motivation goes along way to improving work quality with young learners and by giving them the freedom to express their language on topics they enjoy you will get more than the typical ”write and email to a fictional cousin in Canada” task that has been done for years and years.
Follow the little and often approach and if you are the homeroom or classroom teacher why not run daily writing activities but short and sweet. We put and example in the table below which could be used as personal writing or even reproduced, privacy allowing, as a huge A week in our class display piece for your class.
|Monday Musings||Tuesday Talks||Waffle Wednesday||Thursdays Thoughts||Friday Chat|
|On Monday, write about anything you have been wondering about. Write a short paragraph exploring their thoughts, wonderings, and expectations. This might be something academic they are having trouble with, or it might be something they have just been thinking about doing.||Write about a conversation they have had in the past week. What made the conversation unique or special? How might you have handled it differently? Students can use conversations from class or their personal lives.||Report on something wonderful that has happened in the past week. This will make the students have to think about positive things as well as the way they phrase things.||On Thursdays, consider the things you are thankful for having or experiencing. This will make students think about their personal lives and what they are thankful for having. This might be something in the classroom, home, or for older students, work.||On Thursdays, consider the things you are thankful for having or experiencing. This will make students think about their personal lives and what they are thankful for having. This might be something in the classroom, home, or for older students, work.|
Some students are kinesthetic learners. If you try to make them sit and listen for long periods, they will not retain the information. Movement can help students retain information more thoroughly. Sometimes, movement can increase heart rate and oxygen intake. This can help some students make better cognitive connections and of course its FUN.
There are hundreds, and I mean Hundreds of songs for classrooms and plenty of these are more than suitable for English lessons. From the polished and professional like GoNoodle to the Glorified PowerPoints and 1970s party songs, but no less effective, songs and movement are a great way to inject a little fun into classrooms.
There are also plenty of action and movement games you can use, the Action Alphabet is a great way to get children moving and teach phonics for example, but moving is not just for kindergarten and games like mill drills and speaking activities are great for adding a little movement into classrooms. We have a free download and article on Speaking games that has many MANY free games and activities that include movement. Check it out.
Student interaction can do more to teach English than merely lecturing and regurgitating information. One of the first things they teach teachers is to watch our Teacher Talk. ( we can go on and on and on!) Working with peers can be beneficial to students. One of the best ways for children to learn to speak is by speaking to children at or above their level. Consider a child who requires speech therapy. While he or she spends time with the therapist outside or in the classroom, the strongest students are taught how to interact with their peers.
Again we have activities on this on the link in the section above, but some of the better activities are our logic game ( make sure you understand it first! and our directions games.) Which involve the whole class walking about and talking to each other to fulfil a shared aim. However the yes no game (number 8 in the pack above) is my absolute favorite for both fun, thinking and effectiveness. If you try only one try that one.
Introduce technology to help students with written English. You might choose to let your students read articles on websites like CNN, the BBC, or local news sources. You might also introduce social media that can be used only in the classroom. Edmodo, Bloomz, Class Dojo, and other platforms are often used for classroom communication. Educational technology can be invaluable for helping students learn English, and it takes the monotony out of the traditional English classroom.
And in case you thought we forgot, yes there are games, English is one area that seems to be doing reasonably well with the number of games out there. Again we have a large number of articles on online games, we mainly choose the free ones, that help both teach English and of course use fun to do so. We even make our own free online English Games which are hosted on the site and on Apple and Android.
The suggestions on those pages should make any lesson more fun!
Play games in the classroom. You can use word games and other “logical” English class games, but you can also get creative. Twenty Questions is a great game to let students think about the words and phrases that they use to ask questions and what those responses are to ask more questions. Another game could involve rolling dice to create a story. There are actually sets of these on Amazon that we use called Rory’s story cubes. If using numbered dice, make a different part of speech correlate to a different number. Ask students to create a sentence using at least three parts of speech from the roll of the dice. It must be a complete sentence, so they may need to add more parts of speech to create it.
We have games here too, printable and downloadable if you need. They can be played alone or in teams. You can re purpose classic board games to teach English as well. We cover that here and these are some of the ones we use at home and in classrooms
Get creative. Let students work with each other, use their interests, and play games to develop their English skills. Learning by worksheets and rote memorization does not allow students the opportunity to explore the use of language. The more they have authentic practice and experiences, the more the lessons will be retained. Let your students have authentic experiences more than teacher created ones.
We are called Making English Fun, and that’s what we do! Check out the rest of the site for many more options.
The importance of games in an ESL classroom – Research gate
Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children