Using games in language classroom in general and in learning vocabulary in particular gives a great deal of benefits for teaching and learning process.
With the aims to Giúp secondary school teachers see the positive effects of games as well as encourage them to use games to teach vocabulary to their students, the investigation was carried out to find out the answers for the two main issues: the real situation of using games in teaching vocabulary, and the effects of using games teaching this language element. The results reveal that first, although most students meet difficulties in learning vocabulary, they are all aware of good effects of mastering vocabulary. Secondly, games are proved to be very useful and effective in vocabulary learning and teaching to the students through the experimental teaching. Hence, games are highly recommended for teaching vocabulary to secondary school students.
In order to make the study more practical, some suggested games have been provided for teacher of English to apply in teaching vocabulary in the 8th form. Hopefully, this dissertation will be a useful source of reference for teachers of English in improving vocabulary learning and teaching.
Nowadays, English has been considered as a compulsory subject for students at all levels of educational systems at most schools. Students must learn English from grade 3 to grade 12, for at least 10 years. Most of their parents believe that learning English is a good investment for the children's future because most jobs now require the applicants to gain English language at certain levels.Therefore, educators have tried to find the most effective method in teaching English. Actually, because English is new language which is different from the mother tongue, students are very afraid of learning. Especially, students who live in remote and mountainous areas don’t get a lot of access to English, they hardly learn a lot of vocabulary by heart. To develop students’ ability to use English appropriately, they must have some amount of vocabulary. So, vocabulary is very important. The relationship between the four skills and vocabulary is mutual: The four basic skills - reading, writing, speaking and listening - reflect the use of language, vocabulary items are introduced and mastered through teaching the skills, and the master of vocabulary helps children develop the four skills better. As in Gower et al. (2005), vocabulary is considered to be important to students, and more important than grammar for communication purposes, particularly in the early stages when students are motivated to learn the basic words they need to get by in the language. Vocabulary links the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing all together.
For ages, language games have been used as the inspiration for students to study. This method has proved its high effectiveness especially in teaching languages. As games provide learners with an atmosphere of relaxation and joy, they make the learning process less tense, more comfortable and fun. They Giúp to make learning feel like playing.
With games, students will enjoy themselves, be stimulated and get involved in playing to learn. As a result, they can learn new lexical items faster and remember better. With so many advantages, games seem to be an effective way in teaching and learning a foreign language in general.
As a teacher of English at secondary school as well as a student at Vinh university the author has attempted to conduct the study entitled “Using language games to teach English vocabulary to the 8th graders at Nghi Hung secondary school” in the hope of helping teachers maintain the interests of their students and motivate them in using English vocabulary. This study is based on my knowledge of English teaching methodology as well as my own experiences gained in the practicum at a secondary school.
1.2. Aims and Objectives of the Study
The main purposes of the author when conducting the study are:
- To investigate real situation of vocabulary teaching and learning and the use of games in the eighth grade of the secondary schools.
- To indicate the effectiveness of using games in teaching vocabulary to the eighth graders.
- To give some suggestions for the improvement of teaching vocabulary to the eighth graders by using games.
1.3. Research Questions
In order to fully achieve these aims, the study is to answer the following research questions:
1. What is the reality of the application of using games in teaching vocabulary to the eighth graders?
2. How effective is the language game in teaching English vocabulary at Nghi Hung secondary school?
1.4. Scope of the Study
Game is a large topic and teaching vocabulary only accounts for a small part per a teaching period. Further more, it is too broad to carry out the thesis discussing all levels of students. Thus, I only investigate using games for the 8th form to teach vocabulary in Nghi Hung secondary school where I teach English.
1.5. Methods of the Study
With the aim to learn English vocabulary through games for the 8th form in the course of writing this thesis the author has used the quantitative and qualitative with the following procedures:
- Collecting information about vocabulary and games.
- Conducting a survey on the real situation at secondary schools by using questionnaires for both the teachers and students .
- Investigating the survey result to suggest suitable games for teaching vocabulary.
1.6. Format of the Study
The thesis consists of five main chapters:
Chapter 1: Introduction
This chapter provides the information about the reasons for choosing the study, the aims and objectives, the scope, the methods and the format of the study.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
In this chapter, the author provides the concepts which related to the study, including theoretical background about vocabulary learning and teaching, games and others.
Chapter 3: Research methodology
Chapter III on research methodology comes next with the responsibility for specifying the factors for the researcher to collect and process the study data.
Chapter 4: Findings and Discussion
The data is described and discussed. Some recommendations for using games in teaching and learning vocabulary are provided in chapter 4. Also, the author suggests some games as specific examples for some concrete lessons inTiếng Anh 8 for the eighth graders.
Chapter 5: Conclusion
Main points and contents of the study will be summarized based on the results of the study. The recommendations for further research will be also presented.
This chapter in turn presents the concepts needed for the background of the study, namely foreign and second language learning, , vocabulary and games. This part will also provide description,summary,and critical evaluation of each work quoted.
2.1. Foreign and Second Language Learning
2.1.1. First, Second and Foreign Language Learning
First language is the language that an individual learns first. First language is also called native language or mother tongue.
Jack C. Richards, John Platt and Heidi Platt (1992) have a brief definition of the two terms as follows:
A foreign language is a language which is taught as a school subject but which is not used as a medium of instruction in schools nor as a language of communication within a country ( e.g. in government, business or industry). English is described as a foreign language in France, Japan, China, Vietnam, etc.
A second language is a language which is not a native language (or first language - L1) in a country but which is widely used as a medium of communication (e.g. in education and in government) and which is usually used alongside another language or languages. English is described as a second language in countries such as Fiji, Singapore, and Nigeria.
According to these three authors, in both Britain and North America, the term ‘second language’ would describe a native language in a country as learned by people living there who have another first language. English in the UK would be called the second language of immigrants and people whose first language is Welsh.
In order to explain for how language is learned. Linguists and psychologists proposed several theories, namely behaviorism, innatism, and interactionist position.
2.1.2. Behaviorism, innatism, and interactionist position
Behaviorism is considered as the earliest psychological theory in explaining first language learning. Behaviorism accounts for second language acquisition (SLA) with the same theory as for first language acquisition (FLA). Behaviorists believe that language learning is the result of imitation, practice, feedback on success and habit formation. They claim that all learning take place and imply to the same underlying process, in spite of their form verbal and non-verbal. The role of the speakers is to provide learners with the input so that they can form so-called “associations or relations” between words, objects or events. By forming these associations, learners can practice. While experiences are repeated, the associations become stronger.
Behaviorism in explaining SLA was often associated with Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CAH). The CAH predicts that where there are similarities between the first language and the target language, the learners will acquire target-language structures easily, and vice versa. Also, CAH denotes that first language is the main sources of errors in second language (Nguyen Thi Van Lam and Ngo Dinh Phuong, 2007).
According to Chomsky (1959, cited in Nguyen Thi Van Lam and Ngo Dinh Phuong, 2007), children are biologically programmed for language and language develops in children in just the same way that other biological functions develop. The availability of people who speak to the child acts as a basic contribution of the environment and the child’s biological endowment will do the rest. In Chomsky (1959, cited in Nguyen Thi Van Lam and Ngo Dinh Phuong, 2007), children’s minds language acquisition device was often described as an imaginary “black box” which was believed to contain all and only the principles universal to all human languages. Another term in Chomsky’s writing is Universal Grammar that is thought to consist of a set of principles that are common to all languages.
The biologist Eric Lenneberg argued that the language acquisition device works successfully only when it is stimulated at the right time called the “Critical Period”. The Critical Period Hypothesis refers to the notion that there is a specific and limited time period for the acquisition of language.
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