Making Time for Play in Language Studies

I’ve posted many language games and fun activities on my blog over the years, but the suggestions I wish to share today might raise the eyebrows of the more conservative among us. I’d like you to think about using hand clapping games, dance along videos, and even fitness videos with your students. How you choose to use these ideas are up to you. Some concepts can be trimmed in order to fit as a lesson warm-up. Others could be woven into a pronunciation class. If you are in a setting that allows for special school activities or clubs, you might ask interested students to form a group for additional fun outside the regularly scheduled class.

  • Hand Capping Games. I remember stumbling upon a childhood memory while talking to a Brazilian woman. It turned out that we both had done hand clapping games as little girls. Suddenly, a few different songs came back and the motions of my hands were automatic. I hadn’t forgotten anything after three decades. How fun it is to discover how cross-cultural some games are! Learning a hand game like “Say, Say, My Playmate,” “Rockin’ Robin,” or “Miss Mary Mack” exposes ELLs to culture, practices pronunciation, and encourages fluency through repetition. You could even take a short simple hand clapping sequence for pairs and have students create their own four-line rhymes.  For more fun, do a search on YouTube. You’ll find channels like like this one. If you need words to hand games, you might consult writers like May K Weinhagen or sites like FunClapping.Com or Story Soup Kids.
  • Dance Along Videos. If I haven’t lost you yet, then allow me to suggest another non-traditional way to offer langauge practice. Have you ever watched a dance along video? This is not a hobby of mine, but my daughter recently got me to watch the High School Musical 2 Dance Along DVD. (We haven’t watched the movie, but a friend passed along this copy of the dances to us.) At first, I had reservations about trying to dance like a teenager, but once I committed myself, it became fun. My daughter is having trouble learning the fast moves (she’s not quite five), but she had no trouble picking up the lyrics. If you believe in the power of combining language with music and movement, then you might truly give this a try. Students will pick up vocabulary, and the repetitive nature develops pronunciation and general fluidity of speech. Some clips are on YouTube, and you might find a secondhand copy of the DVD as I did.
  • Fitness Videos. If you like the idea of combining language with music and movement, but don’t think a film for teenagers holds much appeal, you can go the route of fitness videos. Online you’ll find videos for Zumba and other dance-like fitness routines. I don’t think the language is as easy to pick up since words are not in the form of lyrics but rather instructions only. There is language to be learned, though.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. sultan23c says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    It is very interesting!
    play in language studies is most important role (Theory and Practice) People can learn languages in school but most of the time they don’t, languages play a vital role in students, playin language studies is highly influential in language learning. Playful language studies activities involving imagination may not be considered real, if learners are engaged in the activity. Play in language studies and language could be related because they both depend upon the ability to let one thing stand for something else. Play in language studies almost always promotes excitement, enjoyment, and a relaxing atmosphere. Language is more complex than that used by younger foreign language students, yet laughing and excitement are still an integral part of the lesson. I like hand clapping games for girls and children clapping song!

    1. I think there are times when we need to be serious in our lessons, but there are also opportunities within the language learning experience to laugh and play. 🙂 Maybe I’ll include a hand clapping game in one of my future videos! Thanks for the support, Sultan.

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