Here’s a brief description of ten key words to make your online search for games to use more effective. They should help you find some free, easily accessible, engaging and fun activities for your English Language Learners.
1 “free online games”
Learn a bit about boolean search techniques. An example of one of these is to put your search words in quotation marks so that your search specifically looks for a set phrase. e.g. the title of this tip is “free online games” – games that are ‘free’, can be played ‘online’ and that are, er, ‘games’. In fact, tip titles 1-5 here all use Boolean search methods.
2 “point and click games”
Using inverted commas for a set phrase and then adding +word means you get searches on the set phrase plus (+) the target word which helps to refine searches. If you use the tip title here you may like to add:
By the way, Point and click games require the use of your mouse to interact with the game on the screen and this rather prolific genre has some great uses in the classroom and this blog has its fair share of them.
3 “escape the room game”
A sub genre of point-and-click games the escape the room game has a rather self explanatory title. Look for ones that use a context which contains vocabulary that is either of interest to your learners, can be easily graded to their level or simply that they are exposed to day in day out.
4 “online game walkthrough” + youtube
Use google video to find walkthroughs. It’s interesting to see the different search parameters on the left (above). Search for video games in video share sites, such as youtube, and you not only get to see a game without playing it (to check the images for appropriacy, language potential, to see the game in its entirety etc) but you also get a video walkthrough you can use. If that wasn’t enough, down the right hand side youtube will kindly list a whole list of other game walkthroughs on its site to check out.
5 “online game walkthrough” -youtube
The current trend for using screencapture to video a game being completed is so great that it is sometimes difficult to find walkthroughs that are just text. If you want to find a piece of written text that instructs a gamer (or language learner) on how to complete a game step by step then add the:
to take the content from this page out of the equation.
If you don’t bookmark or mark as favourite any of those interesting game sites you find you should do. Opening an account at delicious means you can not only see and tag those sites more easily but check out the sites of people who have used the same tags. A great way to find others who may already be doing the site searching for you.
Open a Twitter account and then download Tweetdeck on your imac or PC to more easily see and organise your tweets. It’s full of people microblogging about the things you set as being of interest to you. Here’s a few columns I’ve set up to help me hear about online games:
8 Share and share alike
Create a website or a blog to collect all the games you would like to use in class in one place. In this way you can get sites checked and approved by yourself close together and direct your learners or fellow teachers to with ease. It also means the game, walkthrough, video walkthrough, reviews, fan reviews, screenshots and material are all easily accessible from a single site.
Once you’ve refined your searches a little and you have identified key search words you can get google alerts to scan the net for them and send you an alert each time they crop up. Try getting google alerts on certain game types, terminology, people and events. Scan read the summary email you receive and trash it if nothing really grabs your eye.
10 Ask The Experts
Ultimately the people who are experts in knowing what games will interest your learners are your learners. Find out what video games they play (careful as they may differentiate between what is a ‘computer game’, ‘console game’, ‘online game’ etc), when they play them, what kind of games there are and what they have to do in each game. Even just having ‘chats’ like this can generate a lot of English and help bridge a knowledge gap between you and your learners.