Reclaiming preloved games and resources

“There is no need to reinvent the wheel! ” I will never forget this comment as uttered by one SENCO (Special Needs Coordinator) in a school I used to work at. This was said in reference to the amount of time teachers in schools in Britain these days waste making up resources for lessons rather than using used-and-tried materials out there.

This guy has a point – I thought – especially since he had been teaching since the early seventies and lived through the changes of governments, educational policies and attitudes towards teaching and learning.  I still do think he has a point, that can also be applied to teaching languages in all contexts, including the exposure of children to your native language.

There are lots of games out there that can be used really efficiently for the learning and teaching of languages, even if they haven’t been designed exclusively for this purpose. To be honest I have always thought that using a professionally produced board game, colourful and all, makes things more interesting than turning to lots of half faded photocopies and not very attractive illustrations.

One of the all times favourite games is “Guess Who”, used by language teachers across the planet to entertain their students as well as to help them practice items of vocabulary like descriptions and colours. In the UK this game often turns up in charity shops, where you can pick it up for just a couple of pounds.

Charity shops are, by the way, a great place to go hunting for games that you can use for language teaching and learning. Another great game I have been using for years with my students is a little game that helps primary aged children to come up with stories. It’s just got a board and some picture cards, the idea is that each player in turn places one card on the board as per the colour pattern and they develop the story adding to it by making something up about the image of the card. This is not just good to keep children entertained, but also to help them develop their language and story-telling techniques. It’s a great idea for your second language as you can encourage your child to speak doing something fun, and it is definitely a good thing if you are a teacher. This game can be easily reproduced by printing cards with action and nouns that they can use. However, there are already lots of little games like these available on the market that although not specifically designed for foreign language teaching can be reclaimed as such!

When you are in your High Street next, pop by the charity shop and see what you can find in their toy/game section, there will always be something you can recycle into a language material.

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