The Effects of Using Games to Reinforce Vocabulary Learning

Abstract

This is a study of the effects of using games to practice vocabulary in the teaching of English to young learners. Teaching vocabulary through games was chosen as the focus area for my research for several reasons. Firstly, I observed during the course of many teaching practice placements during my undergraduate studies that new vocabulary in English lessons in UAE schools is mostly taught through the use of flashcards. Secondly, I observed that it is often taught out of context, as isolated words, and thirdly, I noticed that there is minimal variation in the teaching style used in English language teaching in UAE schools.

The study was conducted with twenty-nine students in Grade Six in a primary girls’ school in in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). According to my observations of how vocabulary is taught in schools, it relies on drilling the vocabulary to get the students to produce the correct pronunciation of words. Other strategies such as implementing games are very occasionally used to teach vocabulary; however, they are only used for a limited time. Using games is considered time consuming, so teachers prefer to use drilling as an immediate way of teaching and practicing vocabulary. In the school where the research was conducted, Arabic is the medium of instruction. In English class, students are encouraged to speak in English when they answer, and while they interact with their classmates. Translation is generally avoided, but it is sometimes used to clarify difficult linguistic concepts, and also to clarify meaning.

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