At the beginning of my second semester in college, I decided to start a teaching job so I could speak a lot in English before starting the new year at my university in Hong Kong. I chose to teach young children between the ages of seven and ten. I wanted them to enjoy speaking and reading in English in a fun and reasonably casual learning environment before they began their formal English studies, which, in Korea, are mostly based on the regurgitation of texts rather than the use of English in real life.
From my five months of teaching them, I have been able to understand how important gamified learning is for young students. If you are not familiar with gamified learning, it is the use of game elements in non-game contexts such as classrooms–for example, making English-related games and doing them in class. Young students love the feeling of winning, especially if it involves beating their teacher. Now, I am going to talk about games that I play in my classes and why those games are so effective.
The first game is Hangman. This game is one of the most common games for young students who are learning English. I play this game with my students during class when we come across some new words. Because my students are young, they do not have the concentration to read for more than an hour and a half. That is why you need to have breaks during class, and Hangman is the perfect game to change things up. It does not take much time, the rules are easy to understand, and it gives students the opportunity to win and feel excited. The game helps my students memorize the spelling of new words in a very enjoyable way. Once the game is finished, my students are able to focus on the topic at hand again.
Another way that I gamify learning is by playing Bingo. If there are a lot of words to learn when reading a book, I use this game as a warmup. This game helps the students practice writing down the words. When crossing out the words, I have my students read the words out loud, improving their pronunciation. Because they want to win, my students try to write long and difficult words that are typically above their level. After my students win, they are very proud and happy; thus, there is a high level of energy in class.
The last game I play in class is Word Puzzle. This is a game I use after we have read a book in order to check if my students remember the book’s key words. I normally hide ten to fifteen words; the less difficult the words are, the more words I hide. Unlike the two games introduced above, this game does not involve competing with others but rather finding the words in a certain amount of time to give my young students a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Some of my students enjoy this more than any other game because they can freely find the words in no particular order and without any rules and because they can enjoy being in charge. Also, to find the words in the puzzle, the students must know the spelling of each word, which motivates them to memorize the spelling of the words in a fun and engaging way.
Gamified learning is one of the easiest ways to feel the enjoyment of winning and learning at the same time. It also lets young students feel satisfied with their work. For teachers, it is very helpful because games increase the efficiency of their lessons. It is for these reasons that gamified learning should be incorporated whenever you are teaching young children.