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Funciones del juego y de la creatividad en el aprendizaje de las lenguas extranjeras. Definición y tipología de juegos para el aprendizaje y perfeccionamiento lingüístico. El juego como técnica ludo-creativa de acceso a  la competencia comunicativa en lengua extranjera.



Autora: Mayte Agudo Crespo



1. Introduction.

2. Functions of games and creativity in the learning of foreign languages.

3. Definition and classification of games for linguistic learning and improvement.

4. Game as a playful and creative technique to access the linguistic competence.

5. Conclusion




The final aim of English learning is to communicate in the foreign language. Students should learn the four skills, understanding, reading, speaking and writing, and they should also develop the different competences like the linguistic competence or the cultural awareness and expression competence. 

The Ministry of Education and its Organic Law for the Improvement of the Quality of Education (LOMCE) dating 9th December,2013  and the Royal Decree 126/2014,  28thFebruary 2014, that establishes the curriculum for Primary Education , both provide guidelines to developed basic objectives, contents and methodological approaches for the teaching of English. The Royal Decree states the main methodological approaches to be used in the English class: teachers should use and active method, meaningful for the students using a child centred approach, this is, taking into account children specific needs, likes, abilities and personal conditions. On the other hand the increasing number of bilingual schools implies the use of a wide variety of activities that will keep children interested during every of the many hours of lessons taught in English. Games will contribute to this variety.

In this unit, I am going to explain how games help students to communicate in English and allow teachers to use and efficient tool that adjusts to those methodological principles. First I will define functions of games and creativity in the learning of foreign languages. Then I will suggest a definition and classification of games for linguistic learning and improvement. Finally I will explain the use of games as a playful and creative technique to access linguistic competence.



2. Functions of games and creativity in the learning of foreign languages 

Games are defined as a form or spell of a play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength or luck. Creativity is the action of invent, imaging or create. Creativity is one of the very important skills to be developed in children so they can grow up happily and face different situations in life successfully. Creativity is also deeply related to games since it is always needed to play. In this section, I am going to explain different functions of games and creativity, or, in other words, why we should use games and creativity in the English class.



3. Definition and classification of games for the linguistic learning and improving.

Games could be classified according to different criteria. But in general most of them are designed to improve fluency or accuracy. Some activities promote communicative language practice while others are much more mechanical in nature and are based on memorisation of individual words.

Games based on fluency practice aim to set up contexts within the classroom that encourage the children to use English for communication and create a need for language exchange in order to complete the activity. The children are therefore concentrating on completing the task rather than on the language itself. The language expected of the children is, however, limited and is always clearly defined by the context of the game. An example of fluency games are Guessing Games –explained below.


3.1.-Forming groups games

These games can be used at the beginning of the school year or a term to set groups for the rest of the year or term.

Using ribbons

– Numbering


3.2.- Scoring games (motivating ways of scoring games and quizzes)

Football: You will need to make a large picture of a football on a card. Draw a football pitch (or a basketball court, or whatever sport interests your class) on board like this:


3.3.- Games inside the classroom

3.3.1.- Spelling games

3.3.2.- Oral  word games

3.3.3.- Happy families

3.3.4.- Board games

3.3.5.- Moving in class


3.4.- Games outside the classroom

– Handkerchief game



4. Game as a playful and creative technique to access linguistic competence.

It is clear from the previous sections that many games can be used in class to reach many different aims. However, games have to be carefully chosen, introduced and played in the class to achieve our final aim, to develop the communicative competence in English. In this section I will explain how to make the most of games to teach English successfully.


4.1.- How to choose the right game

Games like any other activity or tool can be over exploited when used too much so that the motivating element disappears rapidly. If, however, the teacher chooses the game carefully, keeping in mind the interests and needs of the learners, games can provide a valuable learning experience in which the children practise and revise language in a meaningful way.

When choosing a game it is important to pay attention to these items:

  • Aim of the game


4.2.- How to introduce games in class

Simple games use simple vocabulary, no complicated resources and are normally played individually. Three steps should be enough to introduce this kind of games in class:

  • Explain the rules
  • Demonstrate how to play – the teacher or some volunteers can be in charge of the demonstration.
  • Play

Complicated games use more complicated language, more sophisticated resources and are normally played in groups. Therefore they need a longer introduction:

  • Reinforce key language
  • Link game with previous activities i.e. stories, songs…
  • Introduce the game


4.3.- Classroom organisation

Many games involve pair work and group work. Pair work and group work have the advantage that learners are working simultaneously and, therefore, not only is language practice time greatly increased, but children are less likely to become bored or lose interest because they are actively involved.

Co-operation is also encouraged through pair work and group work, as learners will learn to help each other. Some of the games require team work in which the children pool together the information they have collected or learnt, so that stronger learners will help weaker learners and the shy children also have the opportunity to speak if they want to.


4.4.- Scoring

4.4.1.- Should children compete?

4.4.2.-Creative cheating

4.4.3.-Scoring systems

4.4.4.- Bribery


4.5.- Some problems and possible solutions

4.5.1.- Space and furniture

Some games, like card games, require a large working surface which is not always available. This is easily remedied by storing large sheets of card board sideways up in the corner of the classroom. These can then be brought out when needed and laid on the top of small desks thus making much larger table tops. The children then move their chairs to sit around the tables, or if this is not possible, the children can stand around them to play.


4.5.2.-  Excitement and lack of attention

4.5.3.- Language control

4.5.4.- Different levels 

4.5.5.- Too much noise 

4.5.6.-Complicate rules

4.5.7.- Long preparation

4.5.8.- Playing properly and honestly 




As a conclusion I would like to say that games help children to acquire language in the natural way that native speakers do. The language is used as a means to an end rather than an end itself, and the children are motivated to learn because they are enjoying themselves. Games also teach social skills such as co-operation, obeying rules, competing without being aggressive or being a good `loser´. Therefore, through games we will help our students to develop not only the communicative competence but also the social and citizen competence, the cultural awareness and expression competence and the digital competence when using games downloaded from internet, computer games, etc.

There is a wide variety of games to be played in class and they will be an excellent tool when used step by step, at the right time and with the right technique. When the class is under the teacher’s control, games will enhance English learning and personal development.




  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN. Law for the Improvement of the Quality of Education (LOMCE) dating 9th December,2013.
  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN. Royal Decree 126/2014,  28thFebruary 2014, that establishes the curriculum for Primary Education,
  • REILLY,V.& WARS,S. Very young learners. Oxford University Press. Bristol,1999.
  • PHILLIPS,S. Young learners. Oxford University Press. 1997.
  • PAUL,D. Songs and Games for children. Heinemann. 1996.
  • TOTH,M. Children’s  games. Heinemann. 1995.
  • RIVERS, S. Tiny Talk. Oxford University Press. 1997
  • TOMAS,L. & GIL,V. Super me 1. Teacher’s  resource book. Oxford University Press. 1997.
  • ASHWORTH,J.&CLARK,J. Playground games. Collins.1992
  • ARGONDIZZO,C. Children in action: a resource book for language teachers of young learners. Prentice Hall.1992


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