Getting away with games in Business English classes

This forms a mini Getting Away with It series with my last post.

The other thing I get away with that you might be wondering about is lots of games in Business English and ESP classes, like the ones I linked to a few posts ago, and the one before that. I’m also kind of unsure about how I don’t get in trouble! Here are some possibilities:

– I usually use games to introduce new language at least as much as to practice stuff. For example, students race to hold up cards depending on whether phrases they have never heard before mean that someone is agreeing or disagreeing.

– When I do use a game to practice or memorise something, it is usually when I have shown them that they haven’t learnt it properly through usual methods, e.g. after a more serious revision quiz

– I almost always have a less game-like variation up my sleeve, for use with particular classes (and sometimes particular groups within classes during pairwork), when they are in particular moods, or if previous games have gone on for a bit. For example, with the classic vocabulary game Taboo, rather than students trying to get their partners to guess which word they are defining without using the three taboo words, they could work together to make the shortest and most accurate definitions they can.

– I sometimes justify why we are playing a game. For example, I say that the first thing we often have to do outside the classroom when we hear a word or phrase we don’t know is make a binary judgement, such as is the person who is speaking being postive or negative, agreeing or disagreeing, insisting or softening their position, or talking about an increase or decrease. Hence that is what they have to judge in the similar games that I’ve linked to in those examples.

– Other times, I just call a game a “practice activity” or “memorization technique”

Again, suit and tie probably doesn’t hurt, along with being early, knowing my subject, and bringing in loads of paper to look prepared. If I didn’t buy my ties from the 100 yen (50p) shop and my suits from George at Asda, I’d probably get away with even more…

This entry was posted in Business English and ESP, TEFL, TEFL games. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Getting away with games in Business English classes

  1. Adam says:

    GLALL – game-like activities for the language classroom.

    Remember: game… bad, game-like… good.

  2. Natalia says:

    I’ve seen people blog that biz ppl don’t like games, and it hit me as a bit of a cultural shock. I’ve never taught biz classes, but I’ve taught adults, and whole groups of them were made up of biz people who would complain if I didn’t pack my lessons w/ games. So I thought maybe it’s the fact that their course isn’t named “BUSINESS”. But now that I teach Aviation English at the Air Force, with sargeants in their uniforms sitting side by side with their superiors, I find it that they all love games, even though our content is way more serious than anything I’ve ever taught. Perhaps it is a cultural difference after all. I teach in Brazil. Can that be it?

  3. Evan says:

    I find games a very important part of teaching business English, although clearly they have to be relevant to what the Ss need. I’ll never forget my own personal sense of shock when an erstwhile editor of mine (I write business English coursebooks) once asked me to remove certain activities from a page because “business English is not supposed to be fun!”.

  4. Lovely post! I don’t think you can beat games in the business English classroom. I think the justification has to be clear, as it would be for any other learning activity, so getting skilled facilitating the feedback and rounding off at the end is pretty important. But hey, students’ eye’s light up when you say, ‘now we’re going to play a game. I want you to get into teams and …’

    I wish there were easy ways to justify songs in business English but perhaps we can work on that.

  5. Andy Mallory says:

    Allowing for good games versus bad games (both as games and as learning activities) I’ve often found that classes that won’t play games at all won’t do anything else either. They dislike games because it’s a part of the lesson when they have to participate or suffer the consequences of losing and looking bad.

    Business English classes are sadly all too often a goof off session for tired and stressed out employees who don’t really feel they need to learn any English – they have jobs already see?

  6. Dave Volek says:

    How about actually playing some business games in class? Set up teams; give the same challenge to each team; let them use their English to resolve the challenge; then determine a winner.

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