Nowadays English is one of the most spoken languages in the world. Increasingly people are getting in the learning of English, since it is really important to both the personal and professional level. Learning other languages gives us freedom to travel and communicate with other people in the world. We are exposed to English all the time, when we are watching TV, when we watch an advertisement or even when we use our own languages. However, the exposure to English is not enough to learn vocabulary, so new methods have to be used.
Teaching English is not always easy; you have to engage students in the process of learning and motivate them to get the best results. A variety of methods have appeared in the field of grammar and vocabulary and old methods have disappeared with the pass of the time. During the last decades students were provided large lists of vocabulary, and they had to study them by repetition. This method of repetition resulted boring and not motivating for students because they didn’t do connection between words and ideas, and they didn’t interact with the rest of students. Students often feel anxious and bored when learning vocabulary, because they don’t feel part in the process of learning; they have a passive role when learning vocabulary and they forget it easily because interaction is not present.
There are lots of ways of learning vocabulary; many people improve their English vocabulary trough different methods such as reading interesting books or watching fun films in English. Games, in general, are designed to build vocabulary skills and to motivate students to learn without effort. Vocabulary can be taught by different games, such as; crossword puzzle, hangman, word search, bingo and so onâ€¦ To engage students in the study of vocabulary, teachers have to apply games in class and have to make connections between words and ideas and also between words and pictures with youngest students. The use of games in class helps us to build vocabulary skills faster and more efficient.
In” Games for language learning” (2005) Wright, A., Betteridge, D., & Buckby, M. explain why to use games, and they establish that:
“Language learning is hard work. One must make an effort to understand, to repeat accurately, to adapt and to use newly understood language in conversation and in written composition. Effort is required at every moment and must be maintained over a long period of time. Games help and encourage many learners to sustain their interest and work”
I think that this extract summarizes clearly the importance of using games in the process of teaching English as a second language. The game that is going to be explained in this paper is the BINGO. With the use of games, relationships are created within the class, because all students interact together without taking into account their English level. I have chosen a Bingo game focused on job vocabulary and establishments to enlarge different fields of vocabulary.
When students are involved in the process of learning a foreign language, they must participate in communicative task-based activities which help students to improve their vocabulary making the process enjoyable.
In 1972, Dell Hymes introduced the concept of “Communicative competence” which focuses on giving students the opportunity to participate and interact in real life situations. Vocabulary games are useful to reach this concept, because students are involved in an atmosphere of communication and interaction all the time.
It is very important that students understand the game they are going to play. Bingo game is an useful way of catching student´s attention, but it must be explained by the teacher to the class to avoid confusion. All students are given a card with different job and establishment vocabulary. Then, the teacher has to do a kind of demonstration of the game with some students; instructions can be written on the board if it is necessary. Once all students have their Bingo cards and they have understood the game, they start to play. The students can be organised by groups at first and later individually. In this case the role of teacher is relevant because he/she must participate in the game and read aloud the words of the vocabulary list. This game can be adapted according to students´ English level. For example, if they have not a high level of English, teacher can pronounce the vocabulary words in English and in that way, students have only to recognise the sounds. However, if students have an advance level, the teacher can present the vocabulary words by phonetic transcription written on the board.
“Discipline is important but cannot be established by shouting, which, in any case, ruins the whole spirit created by enjoyable games” (DeCarrico, J. 2001. Vocabulary learning and teaching. Boston: Heinle & Heinle)g
Bingo game is an interesting way of learning new vocabulary, however there could be some discipline problems during the class if students do not participate actively. The most known problem when using a game in a second language is that they use their first language and not the second language. The teacher has to encourage students to use the L2, because it is a game and it takes part of the process of learning.
To avoid all these discipline problems general rules of the game have to be well explained at the beginning of the class. The rules can also be written on a poster by students and in this way they will understand easily the general rules. If students make lot of noise in the class, raise your hand and try not to shout. The students can be organised in groups making the class more dynamic.
In conclusion, I think that vocabulary games are a good option to improve vocabulary in a second language, because it is a different way of catching students ‘attention. Students can learn without effort, and they feel relaxed and motivated in the process of learning. Old methods were based on large lists of vocabulary and it makes students feel bored and anxious when studying new words, so with the introduction of new communicative methods, this has changed and now learning a second language can be funny and enjoyable.