Learning a language is not just about learning grammar and memorizing irregular verbs, and this is especially true for young children. We know that children can learn a language implicitly, that is, by hearing it and, more importantly, by using it in real-life situations.
That is why children whose mother tongue is different from the language used in school quickly understand the everyday words and phrases used by their classmates. I’m sure you were all surprised at how quickly your children learned the rules of a new game and the expressions that go with it.
When children are learning new games in a language other than their own, what is important is that not only do they get to hear certain turns of phrase, they also get to use the expressions they have learned.
Try some English games at home. This is a great way to allow children to practice the language in a safe environment. In most cases, they use English without having to worry about syntax and grammar. English teachers know this and they use classroom games to encourage their students to use and improve their English. This is something we can easily do at home to help our children become more confident and encourage them to use the English they know and even learn more.
Favourite classic games
Some of the great classics are among my favourite games and, whatever the circumstances, they are always a big hit with children.
What’s the time Mr. Wolf?
It is an entertaining game to learn how to tell the time and learn new turns of phrase. You can play it alone with your child, or with a group of children. However, you will need some space, for example a garden or a terrace. Before starting the game, encourage the children to repeat the question: ‘What’s the time Mr. Wolf? and provide answers such as: ‘It’s 1 o’clock/ 2 o’clock/lunchtime/dinner time’, etc., so that they feel comfortable when the game starts.
(you or a child of your choice) stands on one side of the playing surface and the other children on the other side. The children should ask Mr. Wolf: ‘What time is it, Mr. Wolf? and the ‘wolf’ should answer by indicating a time of day or part of the day. For example, if the wolf answers, ‘It’s 1 a.m.’, the children will approach the wolf by taking a small step forward. If the ‘wolf’ says: ‘It’s 2 o’clock’, the children take two steps forward. If the ‘wolf’ says ‘it’s lunch time’, the children have to run away from the wolf because he obviously intends to devour them for lunch/dinner or even breakfast. Expect to hear cries of fright as the children run away from Mr/Mrs Wolf! Believe me, once your child has learned this game, they will beg you to play it again at the first opportunity.