The use of game in EFL classroom

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Video and computer games are usually thought to use for a pure entertainment only, but surprisingly computer and video games are a powerful tool that could benefit in EFL classrooms too! It can stimulate students’ discussion, critical thinking and generate creative ideas. According to Prensky (2005), the reason of using computer and video games in an EFL teaching is because

  • Learners have change drastically
  • Learners need motivation in their learning process

Video/ computer games used for these purposes include a wide variety of programs which don’t need to be games that have been especially designed for language learners. One of my favourite simulative games has to be Simcity 5, it is like a role play as you are a mayor of a city, and the task is to run a city from scratch by providing residents with water, electricity, jobs, educations, securities and prescription care. It is your choice to turn your city to be a tourist place or a gambling paradise! Or turn your city to be an environmental friendly or a heavy polluted city; I have spent great hours playing this game, it is very addictive too. However, apart from being stimulated and engaged in the game, I have learnt a lot new vocabulary too!! Another thing that just popped up in my head is that games like Simcity 5 allow you to interact with multi players through a message board on the internet (in a real time), you may ask your neighbouring city to provide extra resources such as water, electricity or even services like recycling or police forces!!

Prensky, M. (2005). Computer games and learning: Digital game-based learning.  Handbook of computer game studies, 18, 97-122.

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Hot potatoes, are they really hot?

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I am not talking about jacket potatoes here! But Hot potatoes is a software that allows the teacher to create an interactive English language tasks and exercises such as gap-fills, crosswords, multiple choice and mix-match etc. The idea underneath this software is that, it allows the teachers to adjust, omit and design classroom materials that suit the students’ needs, level of their proficiency and topics they are interested in. The students have a chance to do all those activities that help encourage students to engage with the class while learning at the same time. The great thing about this Hot potatoes is that after each exercise the teacher allows to set the feedback on each of the answers, students will receive a direct feedback instantly. Moreover, the teachers can ask students to work in pairs, groups or individually.

I have to admit that I like this old fashioned looking software even though it does look dated but it is very simple to use/create and I believe that students will enjoy doing exercises on the computer instead of some old dreary worksheet!

Webquest the 21st century learning


I believe that a few of us have heard of a Webquest before but for me I thought that it was a new launch of a computer game?! Well, after I searched further about this Webquest, I thought to myself that this is very cool, and this is how education has been changed over passed decades. Webquest is a real deal as the class is entirely a student centred which helps to enhance students in every skills especially in communication and creative skills! Here have a look at the video link from Youtube how much children are enjoying themselves by using Webquest in their classroom. And look at those laptops….that would cost quite a bit!

Films with language teaching/learning

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Films with language teaching/learning

Learning English through film is like bringing language to life (King, 2002).This week I learned an interesting tool that will help encourage language learners to interact with the language classroom through the aid of films. This is a very interesting and fun activity for the students to engage in with the lesson. Moreover, this is a great instrument as it allows students to get exposure to a target language and the authentic contexts and it is a key to a communicative practice. King (2002) stresses the important of film that ‘Films offer endless opportunities for pedagogically sound activities for developing fluency’. There are a number of ways to apply the use of films in the language classroom. Here are some ideas that you can introduce in your lesson (Lonergan, 1994):

  • Create tasks with the aid of films by asking students to spot mistakes on the film’s subtitles and do alteration. First, teacher provides a clip of a short film and produces an English subtitle containing some mistakes. Then allow students to work in pairs or on their own. The purpose of this activity is to raise an awareness of using correct grammar or vocabulary appropriately.
  • Allow students to work in pairs or groups to give a prediction of the following situations that may occur in a film. Let’s them discuss, maybe write the ideas down.This activity would give the students an opportunity to practice their speaking skill and be more communicative.
  • For the beginners, there are a lot of ways to introduce new vocabularies via films or animation cartoon clips. This method really works in South East Asian countries such as in Thailand! Surprisingly, Thai teenagers and adults love watching Japanese cartoons (in Thai dub) and addict in reading Japanese comic books!!! Make sure to put English subtitle on and use English films instead! According to Hayati and Mohmedi (2009), students who watch films with subtitle gain better perceptive and receptive skills more than those who watch film without subtitle!

I am certain that those approaches will really draw your students’ attention. Those activities will definitely help enhance their English reading, writing, speaking and listening in definite!

 

Hayati, A., & Mohmedi, F. (2009). The effect of films with and without subtitles on listening comprehension of EFL learners. British journal of Educational Technology, 181-192.

King, J. (2002). Using DVD feature films in the EFL classroom, Computer Assisted Language Learning. Routledge, 509-523.

Lonergan, J. (1994). Video in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

BBC Learning English – Pronunciation tips

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BBC learning English pronunciation tips

As our world moves forward, people travelling, exploring, trading across the globe, which language do they choose to communicate with each other? Well, we all say ‘English’. We can call English as ‘an international language’ that everyone basically needs to know/ learn, it is the most important language in our society as a tool to interact/ communicate with each other (Major, 2002).

The importance of a good pronunciation does not mean that the learners of English language have to create the accent like native speakers. There are many more accents that are acceptable as long as it will not cause confusion to the listeners. In this BBC website, Alan Stantonhas given an excellent pronunciation tips e.g. schwa sounds, vowel sounds and linking sounds, this is introduced in a three separate audio clips on this website. He has also provided interesting information on how to practice English pronunciation clearly and comprehensively. These audio clips also include a few short scripts of the actual speaking examples which I found really interesting. Alternatively if you are a beginner of an English language, you can find the link in the website underneath the audio link for a full script of this talk.

 

Major, R. C. (2002). Studies in Second Language Acquisition. Language Learning, 263-322.

 

MSN messenger helps improve my English communication skills

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A lot of us would remember the good old days when MSN messenger was at its peak. I was one of the number one fans! As a first year student in a Thai university, I was very keen to improve my English speaking. The fact that Thailand uses Thai as the only language, the opportunity to use English in everyday life was slim. I have been studying English since I was five but always found it hard to understand this ‘alien language’. I usually failed exams in my English subject at school! Even though I have studied English in school but I could not produce intelligible English sentences, especially when it comes to speaking it! (I believe a lot of non-native speakers of English have experienced this before). I believe this is due to a lack of an exposure to a target language and Thai education systems tend to focus on a teacher centred! Wiriyachitra (2014) states in her written work that Thailand has never been colonised by any other countries, in contrast, there was a downside on this. The proficiency of English in the South East Asia revealed that Thai have the lowest English knowledge in comparison to any other neighbouring countries e.g. Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia!

How can MSN messenger help to enhance my English speaking? I have found friends via MSN messenger from all over the world; from Japan, Poland, Slovenia, the UK and Canada! I spent time chatting on MSN with them when I was free every day. My English was progressing dramatically; I have learnt a lot of vocabulary, phrases and slangs. This was not only improving my communicative skills but also enhancing my writing skills too! I could see a change in myself (in terms of my English proficiency of course!). This resulted from an expose to the target language and intensive practice of English language. So, learners of English….do not give up! Practice is the key; find friends that you can practice using English with, whether in your country or aboard. Warschauer (1996) regarded the use of internet that ‘language learners can communicate directly, inexpensively, and conveniently with other learners or speakers of the target language 24 hours a day, from school, work, or home’. He also added that students who use L2 chatroom tend to produce more complex language than face-to-face. Payne and Whiney (2002) claimed that the use of text-based chat interaction can really improve speaking proficiency. This communicative approach will be great instruments to use in a language classroom. There are many more applications apart from MSN messenger that you can use to communicate with your friends/ native speakers; this includes Line, Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook etc. This is a highly recommended approach for an effective outcome!

 

Payne, J. S., & Whitney, P. J. (2002). Developing L2 Oral Proficiency through Synchronous CMC: Output, Working Memory, and Interlanguage Development. CALICO journal, 7-32

Warschauer , M. (1996). Computer Assisted Language Learning: an Introduction. Tokyo: Logos International.

Wiriyachitra, A. (2014, April 30). English language teach and learning in Thailand in this decade. Retrieved from http://www.apecknowledgebank.org/resources/downloads/english%20language%20teaching%20and%20learning%20in%20thailand.pdf