Gunma JALT:

From competition to cooperation: Games in the EFL classroom

Date: Sunday, November 28th, 2004 Time: 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Speaker: Chris Hunt

Games are an accepted tool for language learning but little thought has been given to the relationship between the structure of games and the effect on learning. Games are not inherently competitive and there are degrees of competitiveness within different game structures. The usefulness of a game for learning purposes can be measured by the lack of competitiveness that it contains.

Competition can be defined as Mutually Exclusive Goal Attainment (Alfie Kohn, No Contest, 1992). I win you lose. Competitive games are goal orientated but the goal is extrinsic to the process. This can lead learners, especially children, to focus on winning rather than on learning. Moreover losing is damaging to self-esteem and self-confidence, both vital in language acquisition. In co-operative games the focus is on the process, i.e. on the learning itself.

Excellence is not victory. Trying to do well and trying to beat others are two different things. Direct experience of different game structures is the best way for teachers to learn how structure affects learning outcomes. Ultimately co-operative structures are more rewarding for students and teachers alike. And that goes for the World, too.

Chris Hunt is no stranger to games. He learnt to play chess at the age of 4 and was making his own games by the age of 7. As a teenager he became interested in role-playing games and created one of his own. His interest in co-operative games came much later after he began teaching English in Japan and observed the difficulties that competitive games can create, especially in the children's classroom. His love of making games is matched only by his interest in creating music. His other passions include collecting juggling balls and writing, examples of which can be seen at the website . He is editor of the Teaching Children Special Interest Group's newsletter "Teachers Learning with Children" and a regular contributor to "Snakes and Ladders" and "Think Tank". Chris has been in Japan twelve years.

Organization: Gunma Chapter of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (Gunma JALT)

Cost: JALT Members: free
Non-members: 1,000 yen (students: 200 yen)

Venue: Maebashi Kyoai Gakuen College, 1154-4 Koyahara-machi, Maebashi Tel: 027-266-7575

Location: Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan


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