Learning vocabulary and the correct spelling have been one of the main concerns of the teachers. I have been an EFL teacher in Iran since 2012 and saw some learners coming to the class unprepared. They had funny excuses and most of them blamed tiredness after the school and lack of time to practice. As I had attended English language institute in the same educational system for about nine years, I am quite familiar with such excuses believing that they are right.
Each session the class started with reviewing what were taught previously and I figured out that some learners had problems with vocabulary retention. Some used to retrieve the meaning but had problem with spelling! So instead of presenting different tasks of vocabulary review and spelling that are quite time consuming (and maybe boring) the teachers can use one activity combining both types of practice at the same time. Besides, the factor of motivation is really crucial here.
There are different kinds of word games for teaching among which word-Search Puzzle game suits best for our purpose. This puzzle game increases the learners engagement especially when it is considered in a game fashion (ref. to gamification). Many websites are available for generating word puzzle games including Educaplay. In the following section I provide a guideline helping how to use this game for teaching purpose.
- Assign the the learners randomly to groups of two.
- Go to Educaplay and choose the word-search puzzle activity.
- Simply insert the target words (this can be the words learnt in previous sessions or the new words)
- Set time limitation (depends on your lesson plan and available time, 120 seconds as rule of thumb)
- Check all the directions for possible answers so as to make it challenging (words should not appear just in horizontal and vertical, but all the possible direction)
- Turn on the over head projector (if available)
- Use power point scoreboard so that the groups will see the results live.
- Bring one group to the front and ask them to find as many as words they can in the limited time.
- One member of the group should find the words while spelling it all the way to the end.
- The other member should provide the meaning of that word.
- They will get one score for finding and spelling the word and one for saying the meaning.
- An alternative way is to have three member groups following the same procedure, but the third one makes a sentence with the target word.
- The group with the highest score is the winner and each of the members will get a winning badge .
- Every three wining badges will unlock an achievement that labels the learners with a title so that they see their progress at the end of the term.
Word-search puzzle game©2016 Educaplay
Participating in word-search puzzle game for few sessions, learners practiced the words and spelling in advance as they tried best to win the game and unlock the achievements. The vocabulary retention test and spelling test were administered a week later without giving prior notification. The results of the tests indicated that they performed really well in both tasks even the groups with low game scores. Using word-search puzzle game will save your teaching time and at the same time it motivates the learners to prepare for games. Finally, special attention should be paid to the fact that the learners excuses are mainly due to the lack of motivation for studying rather than other factors.