LessonPlanet: Building ELD Confidence Through Games

14 03 2012

By Jennifer Gunner – Posted February 22, 2012

Fun ways to get your English Learners involved in the classroom.

Through my experiences in the classroom, I found my intermediate to advanced English Language Learners had more challenges than their peers. Not only did they have to learn the content of the class, they had to learn it in a language with which they weren’t yet comfortable. Oftentimes, the questions they had in most of their classes would go unanswered because they weren’t confident in their English skills and didn’t want to be embarrassed. However, I found that they felt much less reticent to respond when their voices were hidden in the context of a crowd.

I began bringing games into my classroom to help these students build their confidence. Each of the following games can be modified for varying ELD skill levels. These games can be used for language practice, skill reinforcement, and best of all, some class fun!

Everybody Loves to Play Games

Never underestimate your students’ desire to write on the board. Splitting your class into two teams, select two volunteers from each team to come up to the board. You can use a list of vocabulary words from the current unit, a character list from the story you’re reading in class, or any other set of key terms. Call out the definition of each word, and the students at the board will scramble to write the correct term. Whoever finishes the word first (and spells it correctly) is the winner, and his or her team scores a point. That student remains at the board and the other team sends up another volunteer.

This is perfect for students who aren’t as proficient with writing English. Pictionary allows students to draw simple pictures to describe a key word or idea for his or her team to guess. Split your classroom into two (or more) groups, and choose one volunteer to draw on the board. Whisper or write the word to the student, and they will try to draw a picture that is explanatory enough for his or her classmates to guess.

Accommodation for Beginning – Early Intermediate Learners: Allow your students to choose from a list of words from your vocabulary list, or even from a long list of simple words.

Bring the popular family game to your classroom – with some modifications. First, let your students split into groups of 3-4, or group them yourself. With a list of five simple categories on the board (e.g. girls’ names, animals, cities in the United States), explain to students that they must think of one word per category in each round. Choose a letter to begin, and give groups one minute to think of each word. For example, in a round with the letter S, students would need to find a girl’s name that starts with S, an animal that starts with S, a city that starts with S, etc.

The trick of the game is to think of answers that no other team has listed. Groups need to write down their answers to keep them from modifying their lists. Ask for each answer, category by category, and give one point per team that has unique answers (if you’re using five categories, each round is worth five points).

Accommodations for Beginning – Early Intermediate Learners: Take away some of the limitations – award more points to unique answers, and fewer points to similar answers. You can also increase time limits, simplify categories, or make larger teams.

Players of Taboo know the rules: You must describe the word on the top of the card to your team (baseball, for example). The only trick is you cannot use the five words on the bottom of the card (which might be park, game, catcher, team, or hat). I typically use the actual Hasbro version of the game in my classroom, with slight modifications.

First, I would go through the Taboo cards and take out cards that might be too difficult – political figures, or more advanced vocabulary words – or not appropriate for a school setting. Next, split your class into two teams and ask for two volunteers to come to the front of the room. The first student tries to describe the top word without using the bottom five, and the second volunteer looks over his or her shoulder to ensure that those five “taboo” words go unspoken (if the first volunteer slips up, the second team gets the point). Each word that the team guesses correctly gives them one point, and the volunteer can go through as many words as possible in the given time limit.

It is possible to play this game without purchasing the cards. Teachers can make their own cards using vocabulary words, with synonyms listed as the five bottom words. Additionally, students can make their own cards after becoming familiar with the way the game is played.

Accommodations for Beginning – Early Intermediate Learners: Give volunteers several cards to study ahead of time, allowing them to rehearse ways to describe the words. You can extend time limits, or even read the cards yourself to get teams to guess the proper term. A “junior” version of Taboo is also available from Hasbro, with simplified language and easier words.

(Full Story)

http://www.lessonplanet.com/article/esl/building-eld-confidence-through-games

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