Jumat, 26 Desember 2008




Mohammad Agus Salim El Bahri


Learning is one of the primary activities of students in the classroom. Successful learning is only on the right way to lead the process. Good learning atmosphere and method can guide the students to learn more and meaningful. To accomplish such condition, teachers must create varitype and attractive methods for the class.

What should a teacher do if their students get bored? Using varitype games can be an alternative solution to handle this problem. Games, as a matter of fact, can help and encourage many students to sustain their interest and work. By this paper, the writer wants to share experiences about “how to teach English vocabulary using games”.

There is a common perception that all learning should be serious and solemn in nature and that if one is having fun and there is hilarity and laughter, then it is not really learning. This is a misconception. It is possible to learn a language as well as enjoy oneself at the same time. One of the best ways of doing this is through games.

Games can help the teachers to create contexts in which the language is useful and meaningful. In the whole process of teaching and learning by games, the students can take part widely and open-mindedly. To win the games each student or group should competitively answer the questions addressed by the teacher or other students or groups. In order to do so they must understand what the teacher or others are saying or have written, and they must speak or write in order to express their own point of view or give information

The English instruction in elementary school is intended to endorse the mastery and development of the four basic abilities and skills. Those are reading, writing, speaking and listening as reflected in abilities and skill concerning language use so that the students are able to express simple expression with emphasis our vocabulary mastery in order to avoid to vocabulary infraction and attain better out comes, the teacher should choose an appropriate teaching method, which is suitable with subject matter in teaching learning process. The need to use various instructional media will be able to help students to increase their English vocabulary.

Teaching vocabulary is clearly more than just presenting new words. It also includes a decision that words should teach the basic of how frequent they are used by speaker of the language. The words are most commonly used are those a teacher should teach first.

But commonly and usually the way of teaching makes the students lazy and bored. The teacher needs something different to make students interested, mostly children, because they are very easy to get bored. Therefore, teacher needs something interesting which can make motivate them. It is based on the characteristics and attitude of the children that they are curious and often seeks something that the teacher notices them and shows appreciation for what they are doing. So, to motivate them teacher needs something new that can stimulate their curiosity.

With the current analysis on communication in teaching language, using games appears to hold a solution for many teachers. The communication activities somehow involves in a varied use of language.

It had been found in many schools, teacher use games activities as their teaching aid. The students really appreciate any kind of activities which provide excitement and fun. It will be easy to understand and practice of English. The writer chooses games as the simple illustrated media to facilitate students’ method of learning, as we know children learn while playing games. It is easy to be understood and comprehended by students.

However, learning English vocabulary using games has an importance role for elementary teachers and students. The first, as students, they have strong and good motivation to deepen English language. The second, they are easy to accept the English language because they learn by playing games that nowadays has been grown and developed in Indonesia. The third, teaching English vocabulary using games can help teacher in teaching learning process. Finally, they (teacher and students) can teach and learn English vocabulary using games.

    1. The characteristic of children as learners

Slattery and Willis (2001)

  1. They are developing quickly as individuals; it means that they have difference in language acquisition.

  2. Learn in a variety of ways, for example; by watching, by listening, by imitating and by doing things. It means children learn their knowledge through what they see, heard in their surrounding and then imitate it and imitating by doing things (children learn by doing)

  3. Are not able to understand grammatical rules and explanations about language. Children are not understanding about the rule of language, they only imitate what they are seeing and hearing.

  4. Try to make sense of situations by making use of non-verbal clues. Children will do imitate, it means learning by doing.

  5. Talk in their mother tongue about they understand and do this helps them learn. It means they use their mother tongue to understand everything.

  6. Can generally imitate the sounds they hear quite accurately and copy the way adults speak. It means they do imitation, memorization, practice and over learning, what the people are said.

  7. Are naturally curious. They have strong willingness to know what they see and hear in their surrounding.

  8. Love to play and use their imagination. It means they are learning while playing.

  9. Are comfortable with routines and enjoy repetition. It means they need habit to learn.

  10. Have quite a short attention span and need variety. Because they are learning while playing, it is needed many ways to make them understand what the teacher means.

    1. The Definition of Vocabulary

Vocabulary is the total number of words in a language (Hornby, 1995; 1331). Vocabulary is an important part to mastery English well. According to Pigeat’s theory, a child at the age of 7 – 10 years is always interesting in recognizing and knowing new words, he stands to repeat new words repeatedly so that he will memorize them.

There are essential steps of learning vocabulary (Brown, 1995; 373) which has recited by Cameron:

  • Having source for encountering new words.

  • Getting a clear image for the form of new words.

  • Learning the meaning of new words

  • Making a strong memory connection between the form and the meaning of the words

  • Using the words.

In teaching to children, teacher has to use performance to teach vocabulary to them, because the children in literacy level are Performance, it means children learn language with accompanying action / scaffolding. In this level, teacher can use media, according to Nation (1990) in recited by Cameron is listed basic technique of explaining the meaning of new words.

By demonstration picture:

    • Using an object

    • Using a cut-out picture

    • Using gesture

    • Performance action

    • Photographs

    • Drawing and or diagram on the board

    • Picture from books, TV, Video or Computer

By verbal explanation:

    • Analytical definition

    • Putting in a context

    • Translating

    1. The important of vocabulary

A good mastery of vocabulary helps the learners to express their ideas precisely. By having many stocks of word learners will be able to comprehend the reading materials catch other talking, give response, speak fluently and write some kind of topics. On the contrary, if the learners do not recognize the meaning of the words use by those who address them, the will be unable to participate in conversation, unable to express some ideas, or unable to ask for information.

Considering the important of vocabulary role in learning foreign language. The mastery of this element should be ensured and develop. Otherwise, the vocabulary mastery of the children will be limited and consequence of it is that they will find difficulties in learning the skills of the language. Therefore, schools have a task to teach vocabulary to their students as suggested by John Carol as showed by Margaretha MC Keown (1987; 01)

Although a considerable amount of vocabulary, learning is associated with primary language learning in early years. The acquisition of most the vocabulary characteristic of an educated adult occur during the years of schooling, and infects one of the primary task of the school as far as language learning in concerned, as to teach vocabulary.

    1. The use of Games

To increase the vocabulary we need media to be used. One of them is game. The definition of game is an activity that you do to have some fun (Hornby; 1995; 486). Games can make the students more focus in learning, because they do not feel that they are forced to learn.

Games can lower anxiety, thus making the acquisition of input more likely (Richard-Amato, 1988; 147). They are highly motivating and entertaining, and they can give shy students more opportunity to express their opinion and feelings (Hansen;1994;118). They also enable learners to acquire new experiences within a foreign language which are not always possible during a typical lesson. Games can be media that will give many advantages for teacher and the students either.

The useful of games are attract the student to learn English because it is fun and make them want to have experiment, discover and interact with their environment (Lewis,1999) other useful of games are:

  • Games add variation to a lesson and increase motivation by providing a plausible incentive to use the target language. For many children between for and twelve years old, especially the youngest, language learning will not be the key motivation factor. Games can provide this stimulus. (Lewis, 1999).

  • The game context makes the foreign language immediately useful to the children. It brings the target language to life. (Lewis, 1999).the games make the reason for speaking plausible even to reluctant children. (lewis,1999)

  • Through playing games, students can learn English they way children learn their mother tongue without being aware they are studying; thus without stress, they can learn a lot.

  • Even shy students can participate positively.

5. Moon (2000) suggests a positive learning environment:

  • Make your classroom a lively place through the use of attractive wall displays, displays of pupils’ work, etc. language classroom is noisy with the language (English) is good because it will make the classroom more a live in English (practice)

  • Motivate pupils to want to learn English by using interesting and enjoyable learning activities. E.g., project work, games, drama. It means learning by playing.

  • Create warm and happy atmosphere where teacher and pupil enjoy working together. Teacher arranges good atmosphere in classroom and make the students interested.

  • Help pupils to develop personal reasons for learning English. For example by encouraging out-of –school class activities, e.g. pen friends, project, reading story books.

6. How teachers can teach children.

  1. Make learning English enjoyable and fun-remember you are influencing their attitude to language learning. (Lower as affective filter). It means teacher has to try in order to students are having fun in learning (learning by playing). Remember teacher is influencing their attitude to language learning

  2. Do not worry about mistakes. Be encouraging – make sure children feel comfortable, and not afraid to take part. It means teacher does not blame directly to students, teacher must give support to students while repair their mistakes.

  3. Use a lot of gestures, actions, pictures to demonstrate what you mean. It means teacher has to try to accompany her explanation with media in order to students understand easily. Don’t force the students to use the language directly, just give them examples by gestures

  4. Talk a lot to them in English, especially about things they can see. Teacher must teach them by using English, especially about anything in their surrounding.

  5. Play games, singsongs, say rhymes and chants together. It means teacher has skills in playing games, singsong etc to make them enjoy and interest in learning.

  6. Tell simple theories in English, using pictures, acting with different voices.

  7. Do not worry when they use their mother tongue. You can answer a mother tongue question in English, and sometimes recast in English what they say in their mother tongue. It means if the students use their mother tongue, the teacher translate to English and repeat again, again and again to make them always remember what teacher means.

  8. Constantly recycle new language but do not be afraid to add new things or to use words they will not know. Teacher gives new language while remember the last topic.

  9. Plan lesson with varied activities, some quiet, some noisy, some sitting, some standing and moving, it means teacher must demonstrate his teaching with several activities (mobilling teaching), sometimes teacher sit, stand up in front of or behind the students.

  1. Teaching English vocabulary-using games

Language learning is hard work. Effort is required at every moment and must be maintained over a long period. Games help and encourage many learners to sustain their interest and work.

Games also help the teacher to create contexts in which the language is useful and meaningful. The learners want to take part and in order to do so must understand what others are saying or have written, and they must speak or write in order to express their own point of view or give information.

The need for meaningfulness in language learning has been accepted for some years. A useful interpretation of meaningfulness is that the learners respond to the content in a definite way. If they are amused, angered, intrigued or surprised the content is clearly meaningful to them. Thus, the meaning of the language they listen to, read, speak and write will be more vividly experienced and, therefore, better remembered.

There are many kinds of games which can be used in teaching English. Of course, as a technique games need help from media. The media can be picture, flash cards, object, puppet, cassette, projector and many others object surround them. It is better if the games are familiar for children, because they learn in a variety of ways, for example; by watching, by listening, by imitating and by doing things. It means children learn their knowledge through what they see, heard in their surrounding and then imitate it and imitating by doing things (children learn by doing)

Children can generally imitate the sounds they hear quite accurately and copy the way adults speak. It means they do imitation, memorization, practice and over learning, what the people are said

Bruner says that language is the most important tool for cognitive growth and he also investigate how adults can help the children to solve their problem. Scaffolding is bruner’s theory, it means that scaffolding is explainig to students and interacting to students to communicate, in scaffolding is holistic and must permeate all aspects of scientific teaching, if we answer.

So, teaching vocabulary-using games as methodolgy in learning – teaching process and the teaching materials for children less than five years old which is related with their surround, it means the vocabulary which related and introducing things surround them such as family names, naming of alphabet, name of number. And teaching material

Learn how to teach math vocabulary and specific words as you demonstrate math activities and when you talk to your students about their math experiences. Children learn the language of math just like they learn to talk about other topics.

In this variation, students break up into small groups and play a board game following commands. After the students have completed the game, they create their own board game using commands they have created on their own.

Language learning is a hard task which can sometimes be frustrating. Constant effort is required to understand, produce and manipulate the target language. Well-chosen games are invaluable as they give students a break and at the same time allow students to practise language skills. Games are highly motivating since they are amusing and at the same time challenging. Furthermore, they employ meaningful and useful language in real contexts. They also encourage and increase cooperation.

Games encourage, entertain, teach, and promote fluency. If not for any of these reasons, they should be used just because they help students see beauty in a foreign language and not just problems that at times seem overwhelming.

Games are often used as short warm-up activities or when there is some time left at the end of a lesson. Yet, a game should not be regarded as a marginal activity filling in odd moments when the teacher and class have nothing better to do. Games ought to be at the heart of teaching foreign languages. Games are used at all stages of the lesson, provided that they are suitable and carefully chosen.

Games also lend themselves well to revision exercises helping learners recall material in a pleasant, entertaining way. All authors referred to in this article agree that even if games resulted only in noise and entertained students, they are still worth paying attention to and implementing in the classroom since they motivate learners, promote communicative competence, and generate fluency.

There are many criteria games as educational media for teaching English to children:

  • A game must be more than just fun.

  • A game should involve "friendly" competition.

  • A game should keep all of the students involved and interested.

  • A game should encourage students to focus on the use of language rather than on the language itself.

  • A game should give students a chance to learn, practice, or review specific language material.

  • A game should be familiar by children.

The important things in teaching English vocabulary is how to make English learning fun for children with these excellent products

There are many advantages of using games in the classroom:
Games are a welcome break from the usual routine of the language class.

  1. They are motivating and challenging.

  2. Learning a language requires a great deal of effort.

  3. Games help students to make and sustain the effort of learning.

  4. Games provide language practice in the various skills- speaking, writing, listening and reading.

  5. They encourage students to interact and communicate.

  6. They create a meaningful context for language use.

  7. Vocabulary games bring real world context into the classroom, and increase students’ use of English in a flexible, meaningful and communicative way.

  8. Games usually involve friendly competition and they keep students interested in learning the language.

  9. Games can help them (children) learn and hang on to new words more easily

The reasons of the writer in choosing games as educational media for teaching children are:

  1. Games make learning fun so your class and children are willing participants and not just there because they have to be.

  2. Playing a game has a purpose to it, an outcome, and in order to play students have to say things – they have a reason to communicate rather than just repeat things back mindlessly. Therefore, they want to know and learn more.

  3. Students get to use the language all the time during the games

  4. They involve a lot of repetition, and repetition is the mother of skill, it can be boring, but thanks to these games, it is fun.

  5. How do you expect your class or children to remember vocabulary if they never use it? Repetition is the mother of skill.

  6. The games lend themselves perfectly to quick bursts of revision. Using some of the games, you can revise a massive amount of vocabulary and grammar in a few minutes.

  7. If you use games to revise two or three topics every lesson, as well as teach the new language, imagine how well your kids will do at exam time, and how proud you will feel.

  8. Children have a short attention span (even more so these days with the style and pace of the media, and computer games), so injecting lively varied games into your classes to practice the language you are teaching will keep your children alert and enjoying themselves

  9. The philosophy of encouragement incorporated into these games allows all students, including the less good ones, to gain in confidence. Usually this doesn't just mean they get better at your subject, but in all subjects. This makes everybody, including you, more motivated and optimistic, and you can really make a difference by helping your pupils have more self-esteem so they succeed in all areas of life.

  10. You do not need many materials to play these games (in some cases you need only your regular black board or classroom props). Once you have used the games once you will need virtually no preparation time at all!

  11. You will be able to give stimulating fun classes while keeping your evenings free for yourself and your own hobbies, family and friends

Pay attention:

  • Games are often used as short warm-up activities or when there is some time left at the end of a lesson. In this case, a game should not be regarded as a marginal activity filling in odd moments when the teacher and class have nothing better to do. Games ought to be at the heart of teaching (foreign) languages.

  • Games can be used at all stages of the lesson. But teachers must be sure that games provided, are suitable and carefully selected by the teachers.

  • Before playing a game teachers should give attention to the number of students, proficiency level, cultural context, timing, learning topic, and the classroom settings.

  • Games also lend themselves well to revision exercises helping learners recall material in a pleasant, entertaining way.

Reference list:

Cameron Dynne, 2001 “Teaching Language to Young Learners” Cambridge Unversity Press

Harnby As, 1995 “Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English “Oxford University Press

Slattery M & Jane Willis, 2001English for Primary Teacher Oxford University Press.



Email: mas_agussalim@yahoo.com

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