University of Graz, Austria
The use of games in teaching and learning – which goes back to progressive education – enhances the holistic development of a person and the emergence of a variety of skills. Whereas several studies have already shown positive results for children, the present study concetrates on games as a didactic tool for teaching foreign languages to adults – a much less investigated area. Advantages and disadvantages of this approach are discussed and problem areas are identified. In addition, the results of an empirical study are presented, in which 100 adults (n=100) at three Austrian public night schools, who had learned English for six years, participated. The aim of this study was to find out whether the integration of games into teaching English as a foreign language makes a significant difference in the improvement of language skills in adult learners. For this study 50 adults (25 male and 25 female) were taught over a period of eight weeks with the use of games, while a control group of another 50 adults (25 male and 25 female) received traditional lessons on the same topics. Games, which were used, were primarily role plays, quizzes/puzzles and business games. According to our statistical analysis the group in which games were used showed significantly better results in the area of speaking, reading, grammar and the active use of advanced vocabulary whereas listening and writing competency was not significantly affected. Without any doubt games have their justified place in adult education. A competent implementation and use by teachers, however, is of crucial importance for satisfying results.
Adult education, language teaching, games in teaching