Unleash your creativity: Make peace with FUN

I was working on a halloween-themed game in the morning when it occured to me that the problem isn’t so much the word game, as it is the facts that prevent us from enjoying using games with our students. Here are some thoughts:
So many ideas get lost!

Lack of time: So many ideas get lost!

We don’t have enough time to use our creativitity. Creativity emerges when we are relaxed enough to feel, think, experiment, create, etc. Get yourself the space you need. Have a box filled with things that can be used in your projects. Collect things from stationery to broken pieces. Recently I got some amazing plastic witches that could be used as pieces on a board game. Draft your ideas. Run your ideas through someone you feel comfortable discussing them.

Most of the time, the problem isn’t seeing the value of games, it’s actually engineering experiences worth the time and effort. Not knowing how to engineer those experiences reduces the use of game to a place where it doesn’t encourage, foster or enhance learning which is a mistake. Empower yourself by learning about game design. It’s fun and I assure you that the more knowledgeable you become, more creative moments you will experience. You will look at things differently and ideas will flow. In my next post, I’ll share how a simple art craft from a kid website generated a game.
Jeff Kuhn is someone we can learn from. In fact, he uploaded a youtube video recently that will help you get started.
Being afraid of experimenting because of students’ expectations might be another reason. At least it was for me for a long time. While teens are picky but easily enjoy games, adults do not see fun as part of learning. Of course they love having fun and laugh, but when comes to classroom routine, most adults will expect activities to be and look serious, otherwise they won’t see the value of it.
Authentic games can be a great way to show adults that playing games can provide a good space for practicing and learning language too. So why not explore games and see how they encourage using language more productively and meaningfully. Make sure that they are prepared to use the language necessary for the game or support them so everyone has equal chances to win the game. I like playing with my students Dixit, it’s pretty flexible in terms of language use, everyone can play using the language they have (from gesture, sound, name of a song, music, a sentence they heard to a more complex language). We also use L1 to discuss meaning and check comprehension during the game when there are low-level learners playing. Higher-levels just use English when playing alone, but tend to use L1 because of their low-level peers. The greatest thing about games is that you can play (hence practicing language) over and over again. Nothing beats games when the objective is practicing language. They’ll want to play it over and over if the game is well-designed.
I’m still learning and the more I learn, more I understand the issues we face when we are trying to work with teens. So, here is a list of books.
Homo Ludens: a Study of the Play-Element in Culture can be downloaded from here.
A list of websites:
A student of mine around the age of 25 told me last week that his girlfriend just gave him the walking dead game and he is playing only in English for the first time. Although I encourage my students to see the value of playing games to learn English, the need to use language orally in natural conversations around games or not is also important. I’ve noticed and informally interviewed in English and Portuguese people who grew up playing games or played a lot of games and for those who has never taken an English course they can’t really make a conversation in English. They are either not confident to use the language or games alone is not enough to develop speaking competence because when they are playing a game, they practice mostly reading and listening, and often use google translator to interact with other players online. I’ve also heard that those who can communicate in English without ever taking an English course are those (and I’ve only met two so far) who took English to the next level by really doing lots of things not just playing games. One task mentioned by both of them was rehearsing what they heard, not mentally but really moving their lips over and over again.

5 thoughts on “Unleash your creativity: Make peace with FUN

    • Hi, Adi! 🙂
      The witches were fun pieces I found in a Dollar store. I was thinking of using it in a boardgame, but unfortunally not enough time in the curriculum and in my own schedule this year to come up with something for those. The one I’m running today is with pumpkins. 😉 Culture + Youtube Video + Fun + Candies 🙂 Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Rose

    Thank you very much for the post – I absolutely agree with (and like how you put it) the idea about spending time to engineer experiences. I think it works both for kids and adults. Example: was helping my husband to prepare for his English test at work (short interview with randomly chosen questions, vaguely similar to FCE speaking exam part 1) I found a simple ‘Snakes and Ladders’ board game online, and we were playing it and asking questions to each other. It was so much fun! (well, he passed the test, too) I am looking forward to learning more about the Halloween games you decide to develop!

    Liked by 1 person

    • How cool! That’s a great example, Zhenya. Thanks for sharing. That’s exactly the point. Why should we make the process of asking & answering dull and stressful! I remember back in school making long lists of questions to practice for tests and my mom testing me orally. It was an stressful experience and after all the effort when I got a low grade I’d feel like a loser. Well, my mom forced me to keep studying and doing that was part of the game (still is), but I see now how that affected me as a teacher and how this culture of ‘work hard or no gain’ still at work today. I realised that as a teacher, what keeps me going and all the time and effort I put in is because it’s a game for me. Now, I’m learning to change the game for learners too. Not easy when you are in a system that wants innovation but keeps the same rigid structure. I’m hopeful. I hope to see real changes one day.

      Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Teachers Exploring Minecraft | ROSE BARD – Teaching Journal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s