This is in part a reaction to another thread about having English learning being fun without using games. I believe the main point of the threat is correct, that you can (and really should) have a class that is fun enough without having to resort to playing games to maintain class interest.
But on the other hand, I believe that games are a legitimate tool for teaching, and that it is a tool that can be powerful. The “no games” POV is often a reaction to poorly planned games, or games that are not educational.
The purpose of this thread is to take games and find ways to improve their educational value. The best games are ones where the mechanism of the game requires students to use the target language succesfully in order to achieve the purpose of the game. But even sticky-ball games can be useful and truly educational. Please share how you make a non-educational game into a more educational one.
One example of what I think is often a mis-used game is Tic-Tac-Toe/Connect4/Bingo style games. Often this game is just a crutch to try and get kids to volunteer to answer a question so that they can take a turn. Essentially, the game and the Q&A are unrelated. you could just play the game and have the kids answer Q&A separately and there would be no difference.
Any grid game can be modified so that columns and rows correspond to Subjects/Verbs or Subjects/Objects (depending on what is being taught) and students can use the target language to plot their move. You can use the Connect4 version with each column equalling a question word. This makes students manipulate the language in order to accomplish the goal of their turn.
I prefer to make Battleship grids. This makes the game more student centered, and the teacher’s responsibility becomes observing and teaching more one-on-one while students get more repetitions in the game.
Many teachers play stickyball games where kids, once again, answer a question before being issued a stickyball to throw for riches, glory, or death and destruction. Again, the game is totally divorced from the language being practiced.
Simply putting vocabulary on the targets begins integrating the activity with the language. Hitting the target then determines the context of their question or key words in the pattern they are to use.
There are a lot more games that can be refitted with a stronger tie to the content being taught.