Should we use Board games in the classroom? I say hell yeah we should! Why not? They are fun, interactive and help students to practise a variety of skills that don’t always get the attention they deserve. Obviously there is a time and a place for them, and a suitable age range, however, we have used with them adults and teenagers and found that once the initial feeling of ‘why are we doing this’ wears off, the students embrace it, and don’t even realise that they’ve just spoken English for a whole class without a care in the world.
Authentic board games, that we might play or used to play when we were children, work with most class sizes as you can bring a variety, and let them choose which ones they want to use. With higher levels you can make it completely autonomous; they look at the instructions, work it out for themselves, and play with little to no interference from the teacher. For lower levels you can spend more time helping them to play but there are certain games, like scrabble, that are rather self explanatory and they may have even played before; they probably know a lot of four letter words.
There are a plethora of different board games or card games for students to play that practice all sorts of different areas of English for example:
- Grammar structures
- Discourse markers
- Question Tags
- Negotiation/ clarification of meaning
- Reading and listening
- Build rapport between students
- Activating background knowledge, to help make it more relevant and engaging for students.
The list goes on, and it all depends on which board game you use, and how you utilise them in the classroom. Furthermore, I have found that it works well for a quick emergency cover class, but more importantly they work very well for speaking practice. And the benefits of course, as I have said, depend on the game you use, and what your aim for the class is, as there are so many to choose from.
If you don’t have any to hand, don’t fear, you can pick them up in second hand shops or charity shops and we buy battered versions online for pennies, so you don’t have to break the already breaking bank. A fantastic follow up activity to this is to get your students to create their own board game, and have them swap and share their games around the class.
It’s not all plain sailing, sometimes students really aren’t that interested in playing them, especially adults or the dreaded teenager, but stick with it as a simple explanation on how much it can improve their speaking normally convinces even the coolest,moustachioed European. Some students welcome the break from the normal structure of things, and the opportunity to speak in a fun and interactive environment. It really does take away the forced nature that some speaking activities have. A final tip would be that If students get bored try to rotate them regularly to keep them engaged.
Some of the board games we totally recommend are listed below:
Fact or Fib
You be the Judge
Card Games (there is a card shark in every class)
I am sure there are some obvious ones that we’ve missed out, and each game has its own limitations and linguistic uses which is something for you, the teacher, to delve into and explore. Maybe students have there own suggestions of what they would like to play, and some autonomy always helps to build a better class environment
If you have any more suggestions for quality Board Games to use in the classroom, then add them in the comments below!