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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

ESL Games for Kids
By:Sara Janis

Learning a new language can be an harrowing experience for adults. For kids it is a bit less intimidating. This is due to the nature of children being able to sponge up language much faster. One way to ensure that ESL students immerse themselves in the new language is to adopt the adage, work is child's play. Using games to foster fun and grow confidence results in quicker usage and understanding.

Functionality of Using Games
Since games are fun, amusing and motivational, choose ones that fit those criteria to ensure positive reinforcement. Also, choose games that teach communication and language skills. Use games to encourage kids to interact with their peers. Games need to be based on using the language rather than on the language itself. Many games can be adapted to any age group and capability.

Specific Games
One way to enlist the natural enthusiasm of kids is to use music. For instance, making up songs about various tasks reinforces learning skills. Adding gestures helps the child's brain to integrate information. Video games are another way to create excitement while providing challenges and motivation. Jumbled-word games in which children need to form words provide laughter and critical thought. Matching games are great for reinforcing names while stimulating language use. Word Up, for example, uses many modalities, such as reading, speaking and listening. Jeopardy, the popular TV show game, sparks language and enhances knowledge of popular culture. Board games are challenging and can expand language skills while helping children to understanding following the concept of process. Using daily occurrences like weather and calendar games submerge students in the rhythm of daily life. Creating drama/theater activities allows kids to dress up and act out their new culture. Simple games like counting or reciting the ABC's build confidence. One game that is guaranteed to bring laughter is having to describe another student. This game is played as one student describes a peer while the rest of the class draws the description.

More fun for ESL
Art projects, such as making collages and having to identify shapes, work well for the entire class. In the paper airplane game, students have to answer a question in the form of a sentence, then they launch their planes to see who can get closer to the target. Pictionary, which uses drawing and guessing, stimulates laughter and critical thinking skills, while enhancing empowerment. Dividing groups into teams for games like spelling contests makes spelling fun while allowing each team to accrue points. All these games help to insert the kids into a new culture with ease and knowledge.

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