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1.1 Background
English has been regarded as an international language and is mostly used by
people around the world. Every educational system in many countries includes English
as one of the obliged subject in every school. In Indonesia, the 2006 Institutional Based
Curriculum (KTSP/ Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan) stated that English is
considered as foreign language and must be mastered by the students as a means of
being competitive in in facing the era of globalization.
There are four skills that must be mastered by students in learning English, they
are listening, speaking, reading, and writing. These four skills are the basic skills of
English learning and each skill has its own characteristics. However, in Indonesia,
many students are having difficulties in learning English. The assumption that English
is a very difficult subject has been stick in everybodys mind. Students tend to be
passive during the English lesson because they are too afraid of making a mistake. They
also feel bored in the classroom because there is no interesting activity in the learning
Therefore, we cannot blame the students of being afraid and having little
confidence in learning English because, however, the teacher also plays an important
role in the process of learning language. Besides, the media and learning activity must
be interesting so that the students will enjoy the class. This is the teachers duty in
controlling the classroom as well as making the activities in the classroom different
from the common method.
One of the effective ways in teaching English is by using language games. There
are so many advantages we can find in language games. Language games can be a very
useful technique for the effective and fun learning. It also can increase the students
motivation in studying English as well as their speaking ability.


2.1 Language Games
The term language games refers to the models of primitive language that invent
to clarify the working of language in general. It refers to games for children which
enables them to learn the language (Wittgenstein as cited in Shawver).
Mc Cabe (1992) defines a language games as a spoken routine for two or more
players, meant to be repeated many times. This implies that such repetition will enable
the children to communicate effectively since playing language games will help the
children to develop language and thought. In the activities of language games, the
children will develop their ability to say what they mean to say and to express them
clearly. W.R.Lee (in Uberman,2002) holds that most language games make learners use
the language instantly without thinking about the correct form of the language itself. So
at this phase, the language games can lower students anxiety in using the target
language, they are also highly motivating and entertaining so that the shy students will
get more opportunities to express their opinion and feeling. Zdybiewska (as cited in
Uberman,2002) believes that games can be a good way in practicing the target language
that being learned by the children, since they are able to provide a model of language on
what the learners will use in the real life.

2.2 Types of Language Games
Hadfield (1999) explains two ways of classifying language games. She divides
language games into two types: linguistic games and communicative games. Linguistic
games focus on accuracy, such as supplying the correct antonym. On the other hand,
communicative games focus on successful exchange of information and ideas, such as
two people identifying the differences between their two pictures which are similar to
one another but not exactly alike. Correct language usage, though still important, is
secondary to achieving the communicative goal.
The other taxonomy that Hadfield uses to classify language games has many more
categories. As with the classification of games as linguistic games or communicative
games, some games will contain elements of more than one type:
1. Sorting, ordering, or arranging games. For example, students have a set of cards with
different products on them, and they sort the cards into products found at a grocery
store and products found at a department store.
2. Information gap games. In such games, one or more people have information that
other people need to complete a task. For instance, one person might have a drawing
and their partner needs to create a similar drawing by listening to the information
given by the person with the drawing. Information gap games can involve a one-way
information gap, such as the drawing game just described, or a two-way information
gap, in which each person has unique information, such as in a Spot-the-Difference
task, where each person has a slightly different picture, and the task is to identify the
3. Guessing games. These are a variation on information gap games. One of the best
known examples of a guessing game is 20 Questions, in which one person thinks of
a famous person, place, or thing. The other participants can ask 20 Yes/No questions
to find clues in order to guess who or what the person is thinking of.
4. Search games. These games are yet another variant on two-way information gap
games, with everyone giving and seeking information. Find Someone Who is a well-
known example. Students are given a grid. The task is to fill in all the cells in the
grid with the name of a classmate who fits that cell, e.g., someone who is a
vegetarian. Students circulate, asking and answering questions to complete their own
grid and help classmates complete theirs.
5. Matching games. As the name implies, participants need to find a match for a word,
picture, or card. For example, students place 30 word cards, composed of 15 pairs,
face down in random order. Each person turns over two cards at a time, with the goal
of turning over a matching pair, by using their memory. This is also known as the
Pelmanism principle, after Christopher Louis Pelman, a British psychologist of the
first half of the 20th century.
6. Labeling games. These are a form of matching, in that participants match labels and
7. Exchanging games. In these games, students barter cards, other objects, or ideas.
Similar are exchanging and collecting games. Many card games fall into this
category, such as the childrens card game Go Fish.
8. Board games. Scrabble is one of the most popular board games that specifically
highlight language.
9. Role plays games. The terms role play, drama, and simulation are sometimes used
interchangeably but can be differentiated (Kodotchigova, 2002). Role play can
involve students playing roles that they do not play in real life, such as dentist, while
simulations can involve students performing roles that they already play in real life
or might be likely to play, such as customer at a restaurant. Dramas are normally
scripted performances, whereas in role plays and simulations, students come up with
their own words, although preparation is often useful.

2.3 Language Games in Language Teaching
Games can play a range of roles in the language curriculum. Traditionally, games
have been used in the language class as warm-ups at the beginning of class, fill-ins
when there is extra time near the end of class, or as an occasional bit of spice stirred
into the curriculum to add variety. As a teaching technique, language games are not just
time filling activities in the class, but also have a great educational value. The teacher
uses game in the classroom from time to help and encourage many learners to keep up
their interest and work. Games also help the teacher to create contexts in which the
language is useful and meaningful. In some games, they give the students the
opportunity to understand what others are saying or have written, to speak or to write in
order to express their own point of view or give information. They are challenging and
motivating the students. They encourage students to interact and communicate.
We can use game in any time during the teaching learning process. As the beginning
of the class, game can be a fun warm-up activity or even as revision from last lesson.
During the practice and production stages for the lesson, it can be used as a
reinforcement of what the students have been learning. And at the end for the lesson,
game can be completed as a consolidation activity, which makes the students think
about what they have learnt for just a bit longer.
Children often are very enthusiastic about games, but precisely for that reason, some
older students may worry that games are too childish for them. Teachers need to explain
the purpose of the game in order to reassure such students that there is such a
phenomenon as serious fun. Also, older students can be involved in modifying and
even creating games. Furthermore, adults have long participated in games on radio and
television, not to mention the fact that popular board games, such as Monopoly, are
played by adults.
As with other learning activities, teachers need to pay careful attention to the
difficulty level of games. Part of the appeal of games lies in the challenge, but if the
challenge is too great, some students may become discouraged. The challenge can be of
two kinds: understanding how to play the game and understanding the language
content. Some suggestions for promoting both types understanding are:
a. Demonstrations of how the game is played. The teacher can demonstrate with a
group of students or a group can demonstrate for the class.
b. A kind of script of what people said as they played or a list of useful phrases.
Similarly, key vocabulary and concepts may need to be explained.
c. Clear directions. Demonstrations can accompany directions, and directions can
be given when needed, rather than explaining all the steps and rules in one go.
Also, some student-initiated modifications can be accepted.
d. Games already known to students.
e. Games used to revise and recycle previously studied content, rather than
involving new content.
f. Groups are heterogeneous in terms of current language proficiency, so that the
more proficient members can help others.
g. Resources, online or print, such as dictionaries and textbooks.


From the discussion, it can be concluded that language games is a useful technique
in learning and developing language skill, since it can create positive classroom
interaction that can lower the students anxiety in learning the foreign language. Games
also help the students to develop their English skills in interesting activities so that their
speaking ability can be developed in natural ways. Games are able to help the students
use and practice the target language being learned in a relaxed way. Games are also
highly motivating since they are amusing and interesting. Games also can be used in
giving practice in all language skills and the use to practice many types of
communication which is in line with the objectives of the teaching skill.
There are many types of language games; the teacher can use any types of them, by
the teacher cannot directly use the games without considering the level of students.
Every game can be modified so it is appropriate for the students. Each game also have
weaknesses, and it is the teachers obligation to overcome those weaknesses in order to
create positive result of teaching learning process.


Wright, Andrew et al. 1984. Games for Language Learning. Cambridge University
Uberman, Agnieszka. 1998. The Use of Games for Vocabulary Presentation and
Revision. Forum Vol 36 No.1 January-March 1998 pg 20.
Hadfield, J. (1999). Intermediate vocabulary games. Harlow, Essex: Longman.
Mc Cabe, Allyse. 1992. Language Games to Play with Your Child: Enhancing
Communication from Infancy through Late Childhood. New York: Insight
Books Plenum Press.