Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Impact of Teacher-Made Games vs. Conventional Games on Iranian Children's Learning and Retention of English Vocabulary

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Impact of Teacher-Made Games vs. Conventional Games on Iranian Children's Learning and Retention of English Vocabulary

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Games have a crucial part in teaching unknown vocabulary. Based on Huyen and Nga (2003), they turn the learning atmosphere into a place full of fun together with competition, where students are eager to learn new things, and they will bring real-world context into the classroom.

Games are made of sets of rules, and they can help teachers and students to apply them in the class, and no one crosses the border.

Language learning is a hard work, and it takes time since mind can acquire it slowly, so students should try many times to learn it. They may use different techniques to memorize it.

Although playing games can help students learn better, it is time-consuming, and it can be difficult for teachers to spend the class time for playing games, and at the same time control the classroom. Furthermore, most teachers are not familiar with this strategy for teaching; they may find it too challenging since they have to explain the rules of the games in English, which may not be understandable to EFL kids, and since teachers should pay attention to kids' personalities and cultures. Some of them are introverted students and hence reluctant to have a part in the games.

There are some famous vocabulary games such as Hangman, Role-play, Unscramble words, Board games. These kinds of games come from other countries, and they are not designed for the specific culture, so they bring some difficulties for both teachers and students, but teachers can reduce most of these problems by inventing new games.

2.Literature Review

Games have an old history which is divided into two basic periods: before and after the 19th century. Based on El-Shamy (2001), at first games were just some physical activities, which were related to a specific occasion such as religious rituals, celebrations and festivals. After the 19th century, the European people tried to modify some of their games' rules to fit with American tastes, because they thought them as a waste of time. From that period, games started to be used for educational purposes. The first game that had this goal was Mansion of Happiness the goal of which was to teach the differences between the good and bad to children. From that time, games continued to change until the time they turned to being a tool for training.

According to Krashen (2004), by using a list of vocabulary items students can learn thousands of vocabulary items, but it might be a discouraging prospect for students who find this method tedious. While explicit learning can be boring for some students according to him, explicit learning is enjoyable for new learners because they can learn words through conversation or in a game, but the process of learning is very slow, and it makes the situation hard for some learners who are hesitant to expose their experience to a native speaker. But by using games in small groups inside a class they can talk with their peers so their knowledge can be nearly the same, and they can understand each other, a fact which gives them positive feelings to continue their study. Students can enjoy learning and problem solving through games, since they are word-learning wizards and they can remember how a problem can be solved and through this way, games challenge their mind. Since games questions start from easy to hard, it can specify students' knowledge. McGonigal (2011) had the same idea and pointed out that problem solving can be fun for students, because learning is situated and occurs through a process of hypothesizing and reflecting upon the stimulated word within the game.

During the teaching process a lot of words can be taught by the teacher and games can help students to transfer them from their short-term memory to long-term memory and recall them whenever they are needed. Curtiss (2005) had the same idea and stated that when teachers are using games to teach vocabulary, it is not important that how many words they want to transfer, because games can make learners' mind ready, motivate them and pave the way for their learning. …

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