Using games for win-win learning

Just finished participating in my first-ever webinar, and this experience left quite a positive impression!

I must say I love using games in my classroom. I think it makes students happier and engages them more. I love watching them getting emotional and having fun while speaking English and revising what they have learnt. So I say a big YES to the games. No wonder a webinar with such a catchy title attracted me, huh? 🙂 Another reason to join was the name of the presenter (John Hughes) and the fact that it was organised by OUP, ‘the world’s authority on teaching English’ (as Gareth Davies, the moderator, said).

Here’s a brief summary of what John talked about.

First of all, when you choose or create a game, consider:
– preparation time vs classroom time
(you don’t want to spend 2 hours preparing a game that only lasts 10 minutes, do you?)
– easy vs difficult set-up
(make sure it doesn’t take too much time to set the game up and that it’s easy enough for students to understand the rules)
– how much language does it generate?
(our main goal is learning after all, right?)
– does it make students forget they’re ‘learning’ English?
(no one cancelled the fun element 🙂 )

Second, make sure that it complies with the 5 C’s:

  • Chance
  • Challenge
  • Collaboration
  • Competition
  • Communication

I’ll tell a bit more about each of these key features below.

Continue reading “Using games for win-win learning”


The Last Lesson

The semester is almost over. There is just a repeating course left for those who failed last year and earlier, and that’ll be it.

I taught 12 groups this semester. Some of them were better than the others in terms of performance, but still, every single one of them will forever stay in my heart. They all made me feel happy – in different ways, but always happy.

Some groups were terrific, and every lesson with them changed into an exciting journey.
Some were challenging, and they helped me grow as a teacher.

Some students were brilliant, and it was a pure delight to work with them.
Some were difficult, but, nevertheless, they made me smile.

Last lessons are especially challenging for me. I am not good at goodbye speeches. I always feel awkward and a bit uncomfortable to say goodbye to anyone. Doing so brings emptiness, and it takes time to fill it.
I had to say goodbye to twelve groups, and some goodbyes left stronger impressions than the others.

It’s my Monday first-period class. One of the most challenging I have ever had. It’s our last lesson, and they are nailing it. I have never heard them speaking that much. And even the ‘difficult’ student is working hard and speaking English. He spent the whole semester trying to prove me that he was not able to use it (I did not believe him though, and I was right). It has never felt so good to teach them.

It’s still Monday, but now it’s the third period. This class has only 5 students, all boys. Their level is low, and they often struggle. They have always been positive about our classes though and managed to enjoy despite all the difficulties. They are discussing their first year at the university and sharing their memories. They are talking about sports clubs, part-time jobs and classes. On their mind maps sheets, I can see my name written – I did not see it on any other students’ sheets. One of them, who failed last semester, says he enjoyed English classes much more this time. He says ‘I wish Lina were my teacher last semester as well’.

It’s Friday, first period. Only one student came – the one I did not expect to show up at all. He was not very excited about our classes from the beginning. He clearly thought learning English was boring. I tried hard to motivate him as well as other students in this group. I did a good job judging from the fact that he became the best student in the class and got the highest score in the last test.
He is surprised to be the only student and laughs a bit nervously. We play the Memory game, and I can see that he gets relaxed. Two other students come later. At the end of the lesson, he says ‘It was fun! I’m glad I came’.

I store these memories in my head and leaf through them gently and carefully as if I was afraid to spill them.
After some time there are going to be new memories to add, but I know these three will not disappear no matter how old they become.