In today’s globalized world, learning a foreign language is becoming increasingly important. Whether it is for work, travel, or personal enrichment, being able to communicate in another language can open up a world of opportunities. But learning a new language can be difficult, and many students struggle to engage with it. This is where targeted play comes in.
Targeted play refers to the use of games, activities, and other play-based approaches to facilitate language development. It’s a powerful tool that can be used to help children learn and develop a range of skills, from language acquisition and communication to social and emotional regulation. By engaging in play that is specifically designed to target certain learning objectives, children can enjoy a fun and interactive learning experience that is both effective and enjoyable. In this post, we will explore the benefits of targeted play in the foreign language classroom.
One of the most significant benefits of targeted play in the foreign language classroom is increased motivation. Traditional language learning methods can be dull and repetitive, leading to disengagement and boredom. When children engage in play that is specifically designed to target learning objectives, they are more likely to stay focused and motivated than if they were simply studying from a textbook.
By incorporating play-based activities, teachers can make the learning process more fun and engaging. This can help to create a positive association with learning, making children more motivated to continue learning. Students who have fun are more likely to be motivated and enthusiastic about learning. This can lead to improved retention of language skills and a more positive attitude toward learning. When they successfully complete a game or activity, they feel a sense of pride and satisfaction that can help to boost their confidence and motivation.
Overall, targeted play is a powerful tool that can help to increase motivation in children. By making learning fun, children are more likely to stay focused and motivated, and more likely to continue learning and improving their skills over time.
Improved language acquisition:
Improved language acquisition is another key benefit of targeted play. Traditional language learning methods often rely heavily on memorization and repetition, which can be ineffective and uninspiring. Targeted play can help to make the language learning process more enjoyable and engaging, which can help children to stay motivated and focused. This can increase their exposure to the language, leading to greater proficiency over time.
Additionally, play-based activities can help students acquire new vocabulary and grammar structures in a natural, contextualized way. By using games and activities to reinforce vocabulary and grammar concepts, students can practice using language in real-world situations, which can help them internalize new forms and structures more effectively. This can lead to improved fluency and confidence in using the target language.
Enhanced communication skills:
Targeted play can also help students develop their communication skills in the target language. By engaging in games and activities with their classmates, students can practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing in a low-stress, supportive environment. Many language learning games and activities are designed to improve listening comprehension and pronunciation. These resources can help children to become more confident and proficient in their use of the language.
This type of play provides children with opportunities to practice using language in a fun and engaging context, which can help to increase their confidence and fluency when communicating. They are encouraged to use the language they are learning in a practical way, which can help to improve their communication skills. Additionally, targeted play can help children to develop their creativity and imagination, which can also enhance their communication skills. When children engage in play that encourages them to use their imagination and creativity, they are more likely to express themselves in a unique and engaging way, which can help them to become more effective communicators.
This can help them develop their language skills in a more natural and intuitive way, leading to improved communication skills overall. Additionally, play-based activities can help students develop their nonverbal communication skills, such as body language and facial expressions. These are critical components of effective communication in any language.
Increased cultural awareness:
Many targeted play activities are designed to teach students about the culture of the target language. By engaging in play-based activities that involve cultural elements, students can develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for them and for cultural diversity in general. They will also gain an appreciation of the culture associated with the language they are learning.
Targeted play can lead to awareness by exposing children to different cultures and traditions in an engaging way. By incorporating cultural themes and activities into play, children can learn about other cultures. Children can learn about the different customs, traditions, and values of various cultures. For example, they can learn about different foods, clothing, music, art, and holidays that are celebrated in other parts of the world. This exposure can help to broaden their perspectives and cultivate empathy and respect for others who may be different from themselves.
Targeted play can also help children to learn about the history and geography of different cultures. For example, they can engage in role-playing activities that simulate historical events or explore different countries and landmarks through interactive games and activities. This can help to build a deeper understanding of different cultures and their unique histories and geographies. In addition, targeted play can provide children with opportunities to learn and practice language skills that are associated with different cultures. This can help them to better understand the nuances and complexities of different languages. It allows them to communicate more effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds.
This can help them better understand and interact with people from different cultural backgrounds, which is a valuable skill in today’s globalized world. Additionally, cultural awareness can help students develop a more nuanced understanding of the language they are learning. After all, language and culture are often closely intertwined.
Development of social skills:
Targeted play can also help students develop important social skills, such as cooperation, collaboration, and problem-solving. By working together to complete tasks and achieve common goals, students can learn to communicate effectively and to work well with others. It can also help children to learn important social skills, such as taking turns, cooperating with others, and expressing their ideas and opinions. By engaging in play that requires them to communicate with others, children can learn how to express themselves effectively and respectfully, which can help to enhance their communication skills in other areas of life as well.
One important social skill that can be developed through targeted play is teamwork. When children engage in play that requires them to work together with others, they can learn how to collaborate, share ideas, and support each other. These skills are essential for success in group projects, team sports, and other collaborative activities.
Targeted play can also help children to develop their problem-solving skills. With targeted play, children can learn how to think critically and creatively. Focus on play that requires them to solve problems and make decisions. They’ll learn how to work through challenges and obstacles. This can help to develop their problem-solving skills, which are essential for success in academics and other areas of life.
Finally, targeted play can help children to develop their emotional regulation skills. When children engage in play that involves managing their emotions and responding to the emotions of others, they can learn a lot. This includes how to regulate their own emotions, empathize with others, and resolve conflicts in a positive and respectful way. This can develop their emotional regulation skills, which are essential for building healthy relationships and managing stress and anxiety.
This can help them develop valuable teamwork skills that will serve them well in any aspect of life. Additionally, play-based activities can help students develop their problem-solving skills, as they must use critical thinking and creativity to solve puzzles.
Overall, targeted play can be a valuable tool in the foreign language classroom. By incorporating play-based activities into their teaching, teachers can:
- improve student motivation
- enhance language acquisition
- develop communication and cultural awareness
- foster the development of important social skills
Overall, targeted play is a powerful tool that can lead to improved language acquisition. By making the learning process more enjoyable and engaging, providing opportunities for repetition and practice, improving listening and speaking skills, and creating a positive association with language learning, targeted play can help children to become more confident and proficient in their use of a foreign language. As such, targeted play should be an essential component of any foreign language curriculum.
Ideas for Targeted Play at Home:
- Storytime- When reading your child’s new bedtime book, look at for works they might be unfamiliar with. Take a second to discuss and define the word. Later on, when rereading that book, see if your child remembers that word. This can be an effective way to boost their vocabulary retention.
- Math and Mealtime- Have your children help you out with some basic mealprep. When they measure out the flour or sugar, ask them to count out the number of ingredients and utensils needed for the meal. Also ask your child to measure out who has more or less of a food item (e.g. mashed potatoes, beans, or rice). Your child will learn valuable skills of counting and measuring that add up over time.
- Balloons!- This is both an active and a language learning game. The goal is for the child to not drop the balloon, continually tapping the balloon back into the air when it falls. Your child should, everytime the balloon is tapped, make sure to count out the taps in any language (granted, it’s best to stick to one language). Another way to play this is to ask your child to say any word in a specific category each time they tap the balloon (e.g. food- potato, tomato, celery, chicken, etc). A more involved version would include passing the balloon back and forth, with each player taking on the language challenge.
- Take a look at this article for other great ideas.