Games help the teacher to create contexts in which the language is useful and meaningful. Even though games are often associated with fun, we should not lose sight of their pedagogical value, particularly in foreign language teaching and learning. Games are effective as they create motivation, lower students’ stress, and give language learners the opportunity for real communication.
According to J. Haldfield [1], “a game is an activity with rules, a goal and an element of fun.… Games should be regarded as an integral part of the language syllabus”. This definition highly evaluates the importance of games in teaching. It shows that games serve not only as an ‘amusing activity’, but also as a technique to carry out many pedagogical tasks.
Classifying games into categories can be difficult because categories often overlap. J. Hadfield [1] proposes two ways of classifying language games. First, language games are divided into two types: linguistic and communicative games. Linguistic games focus on accuracy, such as supplying the correct antonym. Communicative games presuppose successful exchange of information and ideas.
J. Hadfield also offers to classify language games into many more categories: sorting, ordering, or arranging, information gap games, guessing, search games, matching games, labeling, exchanging games; board, role play games.
According to W. Lee [2], games can be classified into ten categories: structure games which provide experience of the use of particular patterns of syntax in communication; vocabulary games in which the learners’ attention is focused mainly on words; spelling, pronunciation games; number games; listen-and-do games; games and writing; miming and role play; discussion games.
Let’s discuss some of the common advantages of using games in foreign language teaching and learning.
Games promote learners’ interaction.Interaction comprises the nature of classroom pedagogy and classroom behavior. Pair or group work is one of the main ways to increase cooperation. Many games can be played in pairs or in small groups, thereby providing an opportunity to develop their interpersonal skills such as the skill of disagreeing politely or the skill of asking for help. In the classroom learners will definitely participate in the activities. Therefore, in groups or in pairs, they are more willing to ask questions, communicate and discuss topics with their partners and think creatively about how to use foreign language to achieve their goals. The competition in the games gives students a natural opportunity to work together and communicate with each other a lot.
Games improve learners’ language acquisition.Thanks to the motivation and interaction created by games, students can acquire knowledge faster and more effectively than by other means. Games can stimulate and encourage students to participate in the activity since they naturally want to win. Apart from having fun, students are learning. They acquire a new language. Students begin to realize that they have to use the language if they want others to understand what they are saying.
Furthermore,games can lower anxiety. In the easy, relaxed atmosphere which is created by using games, students remember things faster and better.
The meaning of the language students listen to, read, speak and write in will be more vividly experienced in a game and, therefore, they will better remember the language they learn.
Games increase learners’ achievement.Games can involve all the basic language skills, i.e., listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and a number of skills are often involved in the same game.
Games can motivate learners, promote learners’ interaction, and improve learners’ acquisition. As a result, games can increase learners’ achievement, which means that learners’ test results, ability of communication, knowledge of vocabulary, or other language skills can improve.
C. Riedle emphasizes the advantage of games in improving learners’ achievements: “We are teaching a new generation of students, which requires unconventional teaching strategies to be put into practice in the classroom. And when schools use games, student benefits speak for themselves – a greater desire to learn and higher test scores.” [3].
In brief, games prove to be a useful tool in language teaching. Games not only motivate learners and create a friendly atmosphere, they are aimed at developing all language skills. Consequently, games can motivate, promote learners’ interaction, improve their acquisition and increase their achievement.
Let's summarize why we should use games in language teaching.
§  Games are a welcome break from the usual routine of the language class;
§  Learning a language requires a great deal of effort. Games help students to make and sustain the effort of learning;
§  They encourage students to interact and communicate;
§  They create a meaningful context for language use;
§  Games lower anxiety especially when played in small groups;
§  Games can involve all the basic language skills, i.e., listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and a number of skills are often involved in the same game;
§  Many games can be played in small groups, thereby developing their interpersonal skills;
§  Games involve students in active learning;
§  They can encourage students to draw on analysis, synthesis, evaluation;
§  They foster a more positive attitude toward the classroom experience – more attention, better attendance, better participation;
§  They improve retention, decision-making skills, and comprehension of general principles.
Games can be a very worthwhile teaching element. A successful game is successful because of the reason that it is based on specific time allocation, it has clear relevance to the material, there is appropriateness to all members of the class, and ultimately, the enjoyment of the learners is increased through their active engagement with the language.
1.                Hadfield J. Beginners’ communication games / J.Hadfield. – Longman, 1999.
2.                Lee W. R. Language teaching: Games and Contests / W.R.Lee. – Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
3.                Riedle C. Web 2.0: helping reinvent education / C.Riedle, 2008. – Available at:

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