There is no doubt that competitive games can be useful in teaching. Even the old sticky ball has its place. The element of competition can give motivation. I often use a global team points system as well. Peer pressure is good for maintaining discipline.
But some of my most effective lessons have been when I’ve left out the element of competition and exclusively done more co-operative activities. A few off the top of my head are TPR-style activities, surveys, discussions and short skits. I think the reason that these lessons are effective is that the students are less stressed, they feel more confident and real language learning and use takes place. This is particularly important with students over 10 years old, as increased pressure from parents, teachers and peers seems to eat away at their confidence and spontaneity.
I want to de-emphasize competition and encourage co-operation and mutual encouragement among students in my classes. Not get rid of competitive games altogether, but certainly avoid the prevailing notion that one must win, and that if one does not then one is a loser. So much of educational culture here seems to reflect that notion. I’m not kidding myself that I can change the culture, but I’d like to create an even more relaxed, supportive and constructive space within my class time at least. Fun yes, but not a relentless scrambling to the top of the heap.
Can anyone suggest other activities and games that go well with what I’m trying to achieve? All suggestions gratefully recieved.