A few weeks ago I gave one of my workshops for teachers about how to use games in order to teach English as a foreign language. Only one of the participants didn’t show interest at all, and yes I took it at heart. I approached the neglectful lady while everyone in her group was focused on the task and she was phubbing instead. ‘I don’t want to sound rude but’, I began. She looked up, glanced at me then looked down back to her smartphone. I hesitated but then I continued, ‘Don’t you like this game? In the next session there will be more exciting activities, don’t wor…’, ‘I don’t care at all, my boss paid for this course but I teach adults, professionals, business people, I have nothing to do with snotty kids’, she cut me off. Well, at that very moment the angel me and devil me started arguing. ‘Move on to the next group and try to be helpful’, ‘No way, she insulted all your theories you should show off your knowledge about how powerful games are for adults when it comes to learning’. As you know (or you don’t), I chose to follow my angel me’s advice and I carried on with my monitoring activity’.
That evening, on my way back home, I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘ Why do so many people still think that games are only for kids? And more importantly, what’s wrong with adults playing games?’
I’m sure that adult students’d better let their hair down after a long day at work rather than being in the spotlight if they got an irregular past simple wrong. Especially professionals and business people who are always under pressure benefit more when they learn in a playful environment.
There is no doubt that children’s learning process is way too different from the one of adults but a playful activity has never harmed anyone. There are games for children and games for adults, there are games for children which can be adapted for adults. There are games adults like and games they do not like but that doesn’t depend on the fact that playful activities are only for kids but because the structure or goal of the game isn’t interesting/exciting enough.
This is the reason why I’d like to share with you one of the games my adult students enjoyed most.
GAME: Point your finger
LEVEL: Intermediate - upwards
LINGUISTIC SKILLS: Speaking/Listening
GRAMMAR FOCUS: Have you ever + Past participle?
Present perfect VS Past simple
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4-6 p/group
WHAT YOU NEED: 1. A set of ‘Have you ever…?’ cards
2. A truth metre and sticker finger for each student. (Tips: 1. Fold an A4 paper in 3 parts so that the truth metre cannot be seen by the other students. 2. Use a sticky note to make the finger.)
RULES: 1. Ask one of the students to pick a ‘Have you ever…?’ card and read out the question.
2. Everybody (including the student who has read out the question) needs to stick the finger onto one of the four options:
(Students need to be careful not to show their answer.)
3. When everybody has answered (I suggest that you set a time limit), ask students to point their own finger at the person they think has answered 3 (always).
4. Start to check the answers by asking the student pointed by the one who read the question and then continue clockwise.
5. The students who have pointed to the ones who have answered 3 win 3 points, those who have pointed to the students who have answered 2 win 2 points and so on.
When I played this game for the first time I was amazed because when a student said, ‘0’, she couldn’t stop talking, she had to explain about her answer because the students who had pointed at her wanted to know why she answered ‘never’. Honestly, all the students talked a lot because they were eager to share their personal experience, I had to stop them talking!
It was such a pleasure to see them speaking English and having fun.
Thus, ‘fingerly'-speaking, thumbs up for games, all the time… all ages!