Teaching ESL Grammar with Games and Activities

It can be quite difficult for young ESL students to get comfortable using English, especially given the notoriously daunting nature of English grammar. With the specific parts of speech and extensive array of tenses, each with specific uses and rules, it is no wonder that students find themselves frustrated in English classes. For teachers, the use of grammar games and activities is a highly effective yet often overlooked way to teach English grammar. In many cases, games will be as instructive and informative as the lectures and assigned reading in classes, and they have the side benefit of getting kids to actually enjoy and look forward to learning English!

The reason that games are useful in classes - especially classes with children - is that it gives them a new, fun way to approach learning the language. Because children naturally like to play games, have conversations, and use their native language in fun and creative ways, if an ESL teacher can give them chances to do this with the English language, they will soon find themselves enjoying the process of learning English. This is advantageous for the students, the teacher, and the parents of the students as well.

When teaching grammar to ESL students, it is necessary to spend a certain amount of time lecturing, explaining the grammar to the students, providing examples, and having them create their own sentences using the previously explained grammar structure. After doing this and ensuring that all of the students have a baseline understanding of the target grammar structure, the teacher can then break the class into groups and let them play a game. After explaining the game to them, they can then begin playing the grammar game, with the guidance of the teacher.

Games can be as simple as past tense relays, in which the students race to write the past tense forms of verbs, or speaking exercises such as the game "I Spy" in which students practice asking questions to gain information.

After the game is over, the teacher can then hand out a review exercise or worksheet to test the children's knowledge of the grammar. The class will inevitably perform better after playing the game, as they will have had a chance to apply their newfound knowledge of grammar in a fun yet practical context. A side benefit of this is that when coming to future classes, the students will know that they are going to a class that is as fun as it is productive.

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