By : Saverinus Kaka, S.Pd.

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.

Many experienced textbook and methodology manuals writers have argued that games are not just time filling activities but have a great educational value. W. R. Lee holds that most language games make learners use the language instead of thinking about learning the correct forms (1979:2). He also says that games should be treated as central not peripheral to the foreign language teaching program. A similar opinion is expressed by Richard-Amato, who believes games to be fun but warns against overlooking their pedagogical value, particularly in foreign language teaching. According to him “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 opinions 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.

By those opinion above, it can be concluded that games as “the teaching devices,” perceived as mere time-fillers, “a break from the monotony of drilling” or playful activities. The writer recognizes that many teachers often overlook the fact that in a relaxed atmosphere, real learning takes place, and students use the language they have been exposed to and have practiced earlier. In fact, students remember things faster and better.

The advantages;

1. Games are a welcome break from the usual routine of the language class.

2. Games are motivating and challenging students to get involved and participate actively in the learning activities.

3. Games provide language practice in the various skills; speaking, writing, listening and reading.

4. Games can help them learn and hang on to new words more easily.

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

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


1. 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.

2. 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.

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

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

(The Writer is the headmaster of SMA Tarsisius II, West Jakarta and the Director of Sandlewood International English Course) This article has already been published in INSIDE Magazine – First edition June 2008.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Adam Jacot de Boinod
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 11:44:00

    Dear Sir

    I wondered if you might like a link to both my Foreign word site and my English word website or press release details of my ensuing book with Penguin Press on amusing and interesting English vocabulary?


    with best wishes

    Adam Jacot de Boinod

    (author of The Meaning of Tingo)



    or wish to include:

    When photographers attempt to bring out our smiling faces by asking us
    to “Say Cheese”, many countries appear to follow suit with English
    equivalents. In Spanish however they say patata (potato), in Argentinian Spanish whisky, in French steak frites, in Serbia ptica (bird) and in
    Danish appelsin (orange). Do you know of any other varieties from around the world’s languages? See more on http://www.themeaningoftingo.com


    The Wonder of Whiffling is a tour of English around the globe (with fine
    coinages from our English-speaking cousins across the pond, Down Under
    and elsewhere).
    Discover all sorts of words you’ve always wished existed but never knew,
    such as fornale, to spend one’s money before it has been earned; cagg, a solemn vow or resolution not to get drunk for a certain time; and
    petrichor, the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a
    dry spell.
    Delving passionately into the English language, I also discover why it
    is you wouldn’t want to have dinner with a vice admiral of the narrow
    seas, why Jacobites toasted the little gentleman in black velvet, and
    why a Nottingham Goodnight is better than one from anywhere else. See
    more on http://www.thewonderofwhiffling.com

    with best wishes



  2. Rani Setyaningsih
    Sep 30, 2009 @ 06:47:21

    I agree game can make the student learn English easily. I’d like to applied some game in elementary school but i don not have new game that can make the student learning more easily than before.


  3. kaka
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 23:13:21

    Games are so effective and attractive in teaching elementary school students. Many kinds of games can be browsed by the internet. You can get them easily and you can choose the kinds of games which are suitable with your students characteristics and condition. So, good luck and do try!


  4. wiwiek septiani
    Jan 02, 2010 @ 04:28:33

    i have difficulties in teaching students in high school to improve their vocabulary because they are too lazy to do that. maybe with game, it could help students learn english fun and easily. i’d like to apply it for my students but i have’t had suitable game for my students yet.


  5. dizha
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 23:52:10

    may I know your references, sir?


  6. riad supriady
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 09:04:54

    can you share its steps?


  7. oluwadamilola margaret
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 15:32:55

    Dear sir,
    Thank you so much for this.


  8. admin
    Sep 28, 2014 @ 16:03:16

    Check also our English vocabulary games at http://www.gamelingua.com. We have already two games: True or False and Word Guess. Our word database contains over 2800 words in 90 categories.


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