Using Games to Teach English as a Second Language

It can be intimidating to learn to speak another language, in fact, sometimes it can be downright boring. The memorization of words, the repetition of conjugations, it can drive you crazy.

One solution used by Larry Ferlazzo who teaches English and Social Studies to English Language Learners at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California is to use free online games to help his students learn English as a Second Language.

He finds free, online games that include English text and speaking and has his students play the game and try to win. He gives them guides that can help them through the game–the catch? The guides are in English and he teams the learners together to take advantage of the exchange of language and discussions that naturally occur as two people try to work their way through a game.

Here is the game Phantasy Quest used to help teach English as a Second Language.

Here is what Larry says about his techique:

Even though some English language development can occur when students play these kinds of games alone, the benefits are increased immeasurably when students work as partners figuring out how to solve these “puzzles.” All of these games have step-by-step instructions available on how to “beat” them, called “walkthroughs.” I provide copies of these walkthroughs to each pair, and they read the English directions, read what comes up on the screen, and speak together in English – assuming their native languages are different, something I try to arrange for when pairing-up students. In reality, during the course of these computer lab visits, everybody ends up helping everybody else. Developing this kind of “community of learners” is central to our classroom life as well as our time in the computer lab.

Great use of games to engage and interest learners and good way to help focus on the fun aspects of learning a new language. How can games be used in a fun and exciting fashion in your class or training room?

And thanks for the “heads up” to the article to LF.

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1 Comment

  1. Larry Ferlazzo February 15, 2008


    Thanks for sharing my article and blog with your readers…


Karl Kapp
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