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    International Journal of English Language& Translation Studies

    Journal homepage: http://www.eltsjournal.org

    UsingGames in Primary Schools for Effective Grammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha

    [PP: 211-227]

    Mustafa Mubarak PathanDepartment of English Language and Translation Studies

    Faculty of Arts, the University of SebhaSebha,Libya

    Zamzam Emhemad Mari AldersiDepartment of English Language and Translation Studies

    Faculty of Arts, the University of SebhaSebha,Libya


    Article H istor

    The paperreceived on:30/03/2014Accepted afterpeer-review on:13/05/2014Published on:01/06/2014

    Teaching and learning a foreign language like English is not easy task. The situationbecome more difficult when the learners are primary school children and teachingand learning focus is grammar, an activity often regarded as boring, uninterestingand tedious. However, ones mastery over a language is determined by theappropriate use of language by that individual following grammatical rules and failingto follow the rules of grammar marks ones use of language as erroneous. Therefore,systematic attempt is done to teach grammatical rules and structures to the languagelearners from the beginning of language teaching and learning process. However, thesuccess or failure of learning, mastering and using the grammatical rules andstructures is largely determined by the technique and approach used by the grammarteacher to teach. The leaner-cantered, interesting, motivating technique of grammarteaching is believed to generate positive results whereas traditional, teacher-centered,uninteresting, uninvolving method is believed to be a cause of failure for learners tolearn and master grammar rules and structures. Therefore, the grammar teachingtechnique, which involves language learners, to maximum, in learning in amusing andcreative way, motivating, challenging and stimulating his/her mental processes, andreducing classroom anxiety and fear, is desired and recommended for fruitfullanguage teaching and learning process. In this respect, the present paper discussesthe effectiveness of using games for teaching grammar to primary school students as a

    technique which could easily be utilised and exploited for maximum benefits forlearners. The study is based on the practical experiment done on the students of twoprimary schools in Sebha city of Libya using grammar games. The results, whichproved to be fruitful and positive, are discussed as a basis for the argument in supportof using games for teaching grammar to school children.


    Grammar Games,Foreign Language


    Technique,Case Study,Libyan PrimarySchools

    Cite this article as:Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. International Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

  • 8/11/2019 teach grammar using games


    IJ-ELTS Volume: 2 Issue: 2 April-June, 2014

    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

    Page | 212

    1. IntroductionLearning and fun go together

    Petty, G. (2004)

    So should be the case with grammarlearning, particularly in EFL context.Grammar learning has always been viewedas crucial to language learning but nowadays,it is often perceived as a tedious andlaborious process. This is particularly thecase in countries like Libya where English istaught and learned as a foreign language andwhere students often have negative attitudestowards grammar learning due to variousreasons. If teachers find ways to fully engagestudents in the learning process; grammarlearning can become more enjoyable,interactive and motivational. Research(Uberman, 1998) has shown that childrenlearn and develop fastest when they are atplay. Therefore, it is desired that teachersshould think how to teach grammar throughenjoyable activities. And, in this respect, theuse of games can be considered to be one ofthe most interesting activities to be appliedin ELT classes. Therefore, the use of gamesand its application in grammar lessons form

    the topics of discussion of this paper.1.1 Rationales of the study

    Language games are the games withrules which have linguistic aims and they areagreed with the participants. Teachinggrammar through games is argued for manyreasons. One reason is that, games have theadvantage of allowing the learners to learn,practice and internalize grammar andstructures extensively. Games can do thisthrough providing repeated exposure to the

    target grammar. Another reason is thatstudents will be more motivated to playgames than they are to do deskwork. Manyexperienced textbook, methodologymanuals and writers have argued that gamesare not just time-filling activities but have a

    great educational value. According toabatov (2006:12), games are surely themost interesting and the most favourite wayof how to learn and practice grammar. As

    the games are fun, interactive, and exciting,students can study English grammar withgames very easily, in a relax atmosphere,and more interestingly. Thus, games canhelp not only in learning and mastering thevery crucial aspect of foreign languagelearning-grammar, but also in developingpositive attitudes of learners towards thewhole language learning process. In thisrespect, the paper attempts to discuss theeffectiveness of the use of games in grammar

    teaching to the students of primary schoolsin Sebha, Libya where students often faceproblems with grammar learning and regardit as tedious, uninteresting and demotivatingprocess of foreign language learning. It isbelieved and argued that if the EFL schoolteachers in Sebha, Libya use games in theirgrammar teaching techniques, it wouldcertainly help not only in changing thenegative perceptions of the learners towardsgrammar but also in imparting moredynamic, interesting, involving, learner-cantered, motivational teaching of grammarin the primary schools of Sebha, Libya.1.2 Background to the study

    English is taught and learned as aforeign language in Libya. Being aninternational language and language ofinternational communication, opportunities,education, commerce and trade, the Libyangovernment has introduced English fromthe primary school level itself so that theLibyan school children can be the able

    citizens of global village and can cope withits demands and challenges. As a crucialpart of foreign language pedagogy, teachinggrammar forms the central aspect of EFLteaching in Libya. This is with the belief thatlearning and mastering grammar can help an

  • 8/11/2019 teach grammar using games


    IJ-ELTS Volume: 2 Issue: 2 April-June, 2014

    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

    Page | 213

    individual in mastering the target languageand establishing successful communicationin that language.

    English in the public schools in Libya

    is first taught for the learners in the fifth yearof schooling when the students age is about11 years. During the first 2 years, that is in5th and 6th year of primary schooling,students study the alphabet of English,reading, spelling, and elementary writing.They are also introduced some grammaticalterminology, categories and relations suchas- nouns, verbs, conjunctions, prepositions,simple past tense, present tense, plural andsingular etc. It is expected that the Libyan

    EFL teachers in schools use techniques andmethods which involve learners andmotivate them to learn English. However,the reality seems to be quite opposite. Mostof the teachers rely heavily on traditionalgrammar-translational method whereeverything is literally translated and studentsare supposed to memorize numerousgrammar rules and structures. The teachercontrols almost all the activities in the classand hardly any activity is introduced andencouraged which involves learners andstimulates and challenges their creativity.One of the reasons, for this, can be the factthat most of the teachers prefer to teach theway they themselves were taught- justpresenting set of rules and dozens ofexamples and exercises without much focuson inserting any sort of fun/amusementwhile teaching.1.3 Research Problem

    This typical scenario, outlined in thesection above, hardly contributes to

    achieving the desired aims and objectives offoreign language teaching and learning ingeneral and teaching and learning grammarin specific in Libyan primary schools. Lackof training in teaching grammar withinnovative teaching techniques and

    unwillingness to devise any interesting,motivational, learner-cantered technique onthe part of the teachers leads tomonotonous grammar classes where

    learners, consequently, start developingnegative attitude toward learning Englishgrammar regarding it as very boring andwaste of time activity. This also makesthem demotivated learners, a problemcommonly encountered and reported bymost of the Libyan EFL teachers. Thissituation, where both teachers and learnersface problems while teaching and learninggrammar, has been taken as a researchproblem for investigation in this study.


    Research questionsThe following research questions haveguided the study-1-

    Do the Libyan EFL learners in primaryschools in Sebha enjoy and like grammarclasses?

    2- What techniques of grammar teaching areused by the Libyan EFL teachers inschools while teaching grammar?


    Do games form important part ofgrammar teaching techniques in primaryschools in Sebha?


    Can the use of games be an effectivetechnique of teaching grammar andmotivating EFL learners in primaryschools in Sebha?

    5- What are the perceptions and attitudes ofthe Libyan EFL learners toward the use ofgames for teaching grammar in theirclassrooms?

    In the society of today, whereinteraction, fun, play and amusement areencouraged for healthy social growth of

    children, similar approach is alsoencouraged and recommended in foreignlanguage teaching to develop positiveattitude among EFL learners toward thetarget language and for making learning afun-an activity loved and desired by all

  • 8/11/2019 teach grammar using games


    IJ-ELTS Volume: 2 Issue: 2 April-June, 2014

    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

    Page | 214

    children across the globe. In this respect, thepaper investigates the above discussedproblem of grammar teaching and learningin Libyan EFL primary schools and also

    discusses the effective role of games inovercoming the problems faced both by thelearners and teachers.

    2. Literature Review


    DefiningGrammarIn the Middle Ages, grammar meant thestudy of Latin, the language of choice foreducated people. In fact, grammar was soclosely associated with Latin that the wordreferred to any kind of learning. This

    meaning of grammar shows up when olderpeople talk about their grammar school, nottheir elementary school. Thus, the termgrammar school is a leftover from the veryold days. However, these days grammarrefers to the set of rules that allow us tocombine words in our language into largerunits (Greenbaum, S & Nelsonan, G.,2002:1). Grammar also refers to the formalstudy of the structure of a language anddescribes how words fit together inmeaningful constructions(Woods, G. 2010,P.9).Williams, J. D. (2005:2) argues that thisdefinition has the advantage of linkinggrammar to education. This definition isimportant because this paper is designed forteachers and it has been such an importantpart of education. Hartwell (1985, pp. 352353) organized different meanings in anattempt to clarify our understanding ofgrammar by offering five differentdefinitions. These are summarized in thefollowing figure:Figure: 1 Five Points definitions of grammar byHartwell (1985)

    2.2 Importance of Grammar Teaching &LearningAccording to Alexander, L. G. (1998), thereis no point in learning grammar for the sakeof learning grammar. This is because asJeffrey F. Huntsman (1983) argues grammarwas thought to discipline the mind and thesoul at the same time. Learning grammar isreally important to achieve the higher levelsof the language. Grammar is the supportsystem of communication and we learn it to

    communicate better. Grammar explains thewhy and how of language. We learn itbecause we just can't do without it. Somescholars, such as Chapman (1986);Holderer (1995); and Marzano (1996),believe that grammar should be taught as aformal system because it represents order,authority, and something that seemsabsolute, without question. There areseveral applications of grammatical studyaccording to Greenbaum, S & Nelsonan, G.(2002:5). Four of these applications arepresented in the figure below-Figure: 2 Applications of grammatical studyaccording to Greenbaum, S & Nelsonan, G.

  • 8/11/2019 teach grammar using games


    IJ-ELTS Volume: 2 Issue: 2 April-June, 2014

    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

    Page | 215

    According to Harmer, J (1998) thegrammatical information can be given tostudents in two major ways. The first onecould be extremely covert and the second

    will be made extremely overt.Figure: 3 Grammar teaching methods according toHarmer, J (1998).

    He (1998) also argues that:It is expected to do a lot of structures inteaching and practicing, and less really freecommunicative activity at the beginner level.

    The teaching of grammar is likely to be fairlycovert since the main aim is to get students touse language as much as possible. On the otherhand students at intermediate levels should be

    involved in more communicative activities andshould have less grammar teaching. Teachinggrammar would probably be more overt. Thenadvanced students can actively study grammarin more overt ways. (P.20).

    In this regard, Palnov, K. (2010)also argues that All grammar teaching

    should not be covert. Teacher should notalways draw students attention togrammatical facts and rules. Sometimespupils should discover facts about grammar

    through problemsolving activities andsometimes through practicing grammar.(P.15).

    In short, teachers of grammar oftenact on the assumption that grammar learningis mostly a matter of learning a series ofpatterns or structures. Teachers then focusmainly on giving the form and the exampleswhich indicates the possible uses of specificrules without much focus on teachinggrammar with pleasure. In grammar, the

    grammar rules are properly explained, theteachers concentrate especially on sentencestructure. It could be demotivating forpupils. This method is not very suitable foryoung learners. (Musilov, L 2010:14).Willis, D. (2009) claims that if learners weregiven grammatical rules or they areencouraged to discover rules for themselves,we are acting on the belief that rules make avaluable contribution to languagedescription and that this kind ofunderstanding helps promote learning (P.1).He also argues that teachers of grammaroften start with the present tense of be, andsoon students are exposed to the definiteand indefinite articles. At a later stageteachers add the passive voice and reportedspeech, and continue until they reach thedizzy heights of the third conditional. Thesyllabus is presented to learners in a logicalorder and the language is built up piece bypiece until learners have achieved a usablecompetence, a form of the language which

    meets their needs.2.3

    Games in Grammar Teaching Grammar teaching has long beendominated by the traditional approaches.However, there has been increasing shift inthe grammar teaching and learning

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    IJ-ELTS Volume: 2 Issue: 2 April-June, 2014

    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

    Page | 216

    methodologies due to various factors. Withthe focus of teaching and learning shiftingfrom teacher to the learner, new approachesare devised, tested and recommended for

    effective foreign language teaching. The useof games in grammar classes has been sucha popular technique which is beingexercised by many educators in theclassrooms and recommended bymethodologists for effective teaching ofgrammar particularly in primary schools.This is due to infinite advantages andimplications of the use of games for the EFLschool learners. In this regard, GeoffreyPetty (2004) rightly states that:

    During my schooldays, learning was regardedas a serious and difficult process; if laughterever burst from a classroom, passing teacherswould peer in with anger and suspicion. Yetgames can produce intense involvement, and aquality of concentration no other teachingmethod can match. What is more, the increasein interest and motivation produced by a shortsession of game-playing can produce positivefeelings towards the subject (and the teacher)which last for weeks. (P.234).

    Musilov, L (2010) also points outthat games support using new grammar rules

    and to teach pupils to cooperate. He addsthat pupils can learn not only grammar butother four skills speaking, writing, listeningand reading through communication andfair-play (P. 16).Grammar games typicallyrefer to those games that require players touse different aspects of grammar to eitherprogress through the game or ultimately winit. Different aspects of grammar, that mightbe required in such games, include spelling,word choice, punctuation, andunderstanding different parts of speech.Grammar games might be designed to beplayed merely for fun, or they may be morelike competitive games in which a playerprogresses through the game and ultimatelywins due to his or her understanding ofgrammatical concepts. With the use of

    games, the teacher can create variouscontexts in which students have to use thelanguage to communicate, exchangeinformation and express their own

    opinions ( Wright, A& et al. 2009:1).2.3.1What is a game?Nicolson and Williams (1975, p: 1)

    define the game as a form of teaching whichmay be used in circumstances whereordinary approaches are not well tolerated;when attention is hard to get and harder tokeep. A game is a structural activity withlearning at the end (Salopek, 1999: 29).Klauer (1998) says that a game must begoverned by rules. If it is not, it is not a

    game.2.3.2 Motivation and grammar gamesMaffione,L. (2008), claims that the

    learning experience should involve as muchfun (or at least enjoyment and satisfaction)as possible because it has been shown that arelaxed atmosphere may facilitate thelearning process (p.23).The best choice forhigher motivation of pupils, that the teachercould use to teach grammar, is playing agame. As Petty (2004) asserts, games areable to involve children to the process oflearning and they can make them to bereally concentrated which is not possible inany other method. Thanks to the interestand motivation, which are caused by using agame, they can gain a positive relation to thesubject. As he rightly states, learning and fungo together (2004, p.188). When teachersintroduce amusing and challenging games,students become highly motivated to dowell. For competitive games, students havean intrinsic motivation to do well so that

    they don't let their teammates down. Vernon(2006) argues that the theory of intrinsicmotivation may give some insight as to whyteaching grammar through games actuallyworks. Intrinsic motivation refers to theinternal factors that encourage us to do

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    IJ-ELTS Volume: 2 Issue: 2 April-June, 2014

    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

    Page | 217

    something. Most young learners will notinternally decide that they want to learngrammar. They do not yet understand theconcepts of why it is important to know

    proper grammar, so these external factorswill not affect them much either. Instead,intrinsic motivation can encourage them toplay games. If these games are good thenthey will be learning while they are playing.2.3.3 Advantages and disadvantages ofteachinggrammar by usinggamesUnderstanding the advantages of grammargames can help the teacher to decide ifshe/he wants to integrate these games intoher/his classroom. Grammar games offer

    many advantages to the learning process.Some of these include-1. Games increase motivation by being

    potentially amusing.2. Games also provide a competitive element

    that enhances effective learning as they keeplearners interested (Nguyen &Khuat, 2003).


    Games can help the learners to rememberand learn grammar rules.


    Another advantage is that they lead tospontaneous practice and consolidation ofgrammar through the learners natural desireand the desire of children is they naturally liketo play.

    5. Most students enjoy the challenge ofparticipating in games, and the process ofplaying some of the activities may actuallymake them smarter and more capable.


    Among other abilities, games help developstudents motor skills, social capacities,memory and creativity.

    7. According to Agoestyowati (2007: xiii), the useof games in a learning environment will notonly change the dynamic of the class, but itwill also rejuvenate students and help thebrain to learn more effectively. She says thatgames allow students to work co-operatively,to compete with each other, to strategize, tothink in a different way, to compare and toshare knowledge, to learn from others andfrom mistakes, to work in a less stressful andmore productive environment, and to allow

    the students to have fun, and to be able tohelp students use and practice the language inrelaxed way.

    8. Games enable learners to use English in ameaningful communicative context (Nguyen &Khuat, 2003:11)

    9. Games bring real world context into theclassroom.

    10.Grammar games make learners use thelanguage instead of thinking about learning thecorrect forms (Lee, 1979:2).

    11.Grammar games can also give practice in allthe skills (reading, writing, listening, andspeaking).

    12.Games also help in constructing a cooperativelearning environment.

    Games have certain disadvantages too.


    First, not all games can work for allpedagogical purposes.


    Second, choosing or designing the right gamefor the lesson you want to teach can be moretime-consuming than planning a traditionalgrammar lesson. Teachers should take thisextra workload into account when planningtheir lessons.

    3. Third, because games are fun and game playinvolves a lot of relaxed and informalinteraction between students and teachers,some teachers and even students may view

    them as unproductive busywork.4.

    Another disadvantage is that the game maycreate anxious feeling if it ended beforefinishing the tasks because the time runs outso teachers must put a time limit for eachgame to solve such problem.

    However, when done strategically andskillfully, teaching through games can bemore effective than teaching throughtraditional methods of drill andmemorization.2.3.4

    Types of grammar gamesThere are number of types of grammargames that can be played to help improve apersons grammar skills. Types of grammargames vary depending on the level ofstudents, the material which are availableand what specific grammar are you

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    IJ-ELTS Volume: 2 Issue: 2 April-June, 2014

    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

    Page | 218

    introducing or practising. Most games areeither physical or digital.Physical or traditional gamesusually includegames like hangman or games that use

    flashcards or boards to allow players toprogress through the game by using variousaspects of grammar, such as spelling. Somegrammar games can provide players withpart of a sentence that has blanks in certainspaces, usually indicating the part of speechthat goes there, allowing players to otherwisefill in the blanks as they see fit to createstrange and humorous sentences.Digital grammar games,on the other hand,are often similar to traditional games, but

    might incorporate certain aspects of digitaltechnology that reward players for usinglanguage to solve problems in different ways.For example, a digital game might allowplayers to battle monsters by spelling wordsthat damage the monster based on thelength of the word. Some games evenprovide players with problems to solve, andallow them to solve the problems byproviding them with objects that matchwords typed by the player.

    Hadfield, J (2003: 04) has alsoclassified games into the following:Matching: e.g. matching two words orphrases, matching half-sentences ormatching words and picturesOrdering: e.g. ordering words to make asentence, or ordering pictures and words tomake a sentence as long as possibleCompleting: e.g. completing incompletesentences or questionsCompetitions: e.g. see how many sentencesyou can make, how quickly you can

    unmuddle sentencesCard games and other familiar game types: e.g. bingo, board games, dominoesMemory games: e.g. seeing how manysentences players can remember.


    How to use grammar games in theclassroom

    Nowadays, a lot of available ELTjournals, magazines and books are available

    which provide information on differentgrammar games that are suitable fordifferent levels of learners. However, inorder to gain maximum benefits from thegame, various things must be taken intoaccount. If teachers wish to adopt somegames from books or from the internet, theymust read the instructions carefully andmake sure they have the necessary material.Either they should explain or demonstratetheir learners how the game or activity

    works. All participants of the game mustknow the rules and aims of the game. Rulesshould be clear and easy for understanding.They need not to be long (Musilov,2010:15). Thus, teachers should be verycareful about choosing games if they want tomake them profitable for the learningprocess. Teachers must have convincingreasons for choosing the game becausesome students may wish to play gamespurely for fun. Teachers also need toconsider the purpose of the game, whichgames to use, when to use them, how to linkthem up with the syllabus, textbook orprogram and more specifically, howdifferent games can benefit students indifferent ways (Khan, 1996).

    The time is also important factorwhile using games. That means games musthave a time limit. The teacher also shouldconsider the length and the time limit forthe games that he/she wants to use in theclass. According to Siek-Piskozub(1994), the

    teacher can either allocate more or less timedepending on the students level, thenumber of people in a group, or theknowledge of the rules of a game, etc. (P.43). Classroom management is importanttoo. It means that the teacher must manage

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    IJ-ELTS Volume: 2 Issue: 2 April-June, 2014

    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

    Page | 219

    the class while playing games by providingclear instructions, grouping the students in away suitable for the game i.e. pair work,group work or the whole class and

    controlling the time3. The Present Study

    3.1 BackgroundAcknowledging various pedagogical

    benefits of games for grammar teaching andlearning, particularly in EFL context, theresearchers decided to test the effectivenessof such games on the Libyan EFL learnersin primary schools in Sebha. Their aim wasto check if the games can be an alternative,

    dynamic, learner-cantered, learner-involving,motivating and amusing technique forteaching grammar to the Libyan EFLlearners in the primary schools who oftenregard grammar learning as boring anddifficult activity and have negative attitudestowards English in general and grammar inparticular. Researching various factors suchas the age of the learners, their level, socio-cultural background, time limit, status ofEnglish etc, some games were designed touse to teach grammar and to check and testthe effectiveness of the use in overcomingthe problems faced by the learners. Thepermission was sought from the schoolauthorities to experiment the effectivenessof the use of games in teaching grammar tothe learners. They were explained thenature, types and level of games and theimportance of the experiment for seeking analternative grammar teaching techniquewhich would make learning not onlygrammar but English in general a fun andamusement among the Libyan EFL learnersin the school. Lesson plans were preparedfor using the games with the clearly definedaims of teaching grammar with fun anddeveloping positive attitude and liking fornot only grammar but also for English

    among the Libyan EFL learners with the useof selected games. The detailed on theparticipants and the procedures arespecified below.


    Participants and the LocaleThe study was carried out in twoprimary schools in Sebha: Al-Nasser andSalah Alden Primary Schools. Sebha is a cityin the south of Libya with population ofabout 100,000. It is the capital city of Sebhaprovince. The participants of the study were50 Libyan learners from the two primaryschools mentioned above. As English istaught and learned as a foreign language inLibya, these participants were studying

    English language as a foreign language. Theteachers of English, in all the primaryschools in Sebha, are the Libyan nationalswho hardly receive any teacher-training.They are qualified to be a teacher aftercompleting B. A. Degree in English. Of the50 selected students, 25 students were fromthe 5thyear from Salah A lden School (17females and 8 males) and 25 students werefrom the 6thyear from Al-Nasser school(11females and 14 males). All the participantswere selected randomly to avoid any type ofbias, to maintain the objectivity of the studyand to achieve neutral/impartial results. Theselected participants aged between 11-12years.3.3Techniques and Procedures of data

    collectionThe study proceeded through the followingsteps.1.

    First, after seeking the permissions fromthe school authorities and from the classteachers, one of the researchers

    observed the grammar classes in theselected primary schools. The aim of theobservation was to understand and notethe techniques and activities used by thecourse teachers while teaching grammarto the learners as well to understand the

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    IJ-ELTS Volume: 2 Issue: 2 April-June, 2014

    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

    Page | 220

    participation level and difficulties facedby the learners in grammar classes. Theobservation of the classes continued for2 weeks. Total six classes were observed

    from both the selected schools. Theimportant observations, relevant to theaims and scope of the study, were noteddown in a notebook for the purpose ofthe study as the essential data.


    After the observation phase, the studentswere given a Pre-Test to understand-1) Their initial perceptions towards

    learning English in general andgrammar in particular


    Difficulties and problems faced by

    them in grammar classes3)

    Their attitudes towards using gamesfor teaching grammar

    Due to the age and level of the learners,the Pre-Test was made quite simple andinformal. I t was oral test where in learnerswere asked questions (using English as wellas Arabic-mother tongue of the learners)and were asked to raise hands for andagainst the argument in the question. Theiranswers, for and against, were noted downin a diary regarding them as essential datafor the purpose of the study. The aim of thissimplified nature of the Pre-Test was tomake learners understand the real purposeof the study and to get the correct answersfrom them.3.

    After understanding the initialperceptions of the learners towards theuse of games and difficulties faced ingrammar classes, lesson plans wereprepared to teach grammar to theselected learners using games. The aim

    was to check the effectiveness of gamesin teaching and learning grammaramong the Libyan EFL learners and itsmotivational and pedagogical effects.

    Two games were selected for theexperiment due to the time constraint as

    limited time was allowed by the schoolauthorities for the study. With the help ofthe course teachers, the researcher dividedthe students into groups. The course

    teachers were involved in the devisedactivities as the aim was to encourage themto use the games in their classes. The aimbehind dividing the participants into twogroups was to create some sort of spirit ofcompetition and willingness to win.However, the participants were divided,again, randomly to avoid any sort of biaswhich would affect or influence the resultsin any way. The details of the selectedgames are as follow-Game: 1Name of the game:The alienTime:10-15 minutesThe Material:Any available classroom furnitureOrganization:The whole classAim:Teaching present simple with [this, that,these, those].The procedure:One student is asked to pretendthat he/she is an alien from another planet whoknows nothing about even simple things on theEarth. The students task is to walk around theclass asking other students questions about itemsor people, for example:

    Student1: Whats this? [Pointing]Student2: This is a chair.Student1: What are these? [Pointing]Student3: These are pencils.Student1: Whats that? [Pointing away across

    the room]Student4: That is a board.Student1: What are those? [Pointing at

    pictures on the wall]Student5: Those are pictures.

    To ensure the targeted practice, the teacherand the researcher had explained the rulesof the game before the beginning of thegame. These rules included-1)

    The alien would ask questions toearthling in- this, these, thatand thosesequence.

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    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

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    After a student has asked four questions inthis manner, it is agreed that the alienreturns to the mother spacecraft to rest.


    After that, another alien is chosen to ask

    new questions.As the activity continues in this manner, theteacher listens and writes down informationthat was conveyed by alien and earthlingusing correct structure, ignoring theinformation that was not. In this way, theteacher allocates class points for the activityand presents a list of all the information thatwas accurately conveyed.Game: 2Name of the game:spelling the pluralsTime:5-10 minutesAim: teaching and testing how to make theplural formsOrganization:pair or group workThe material: A crossword puzzle game on apiece of a paper (See Appendix: 1)The procedure:the students are given the gamepapers and they must try to write the correctplural forms of each of the 24 single wordsacross and down in each paper as shown inappendix: 1 in the correct space within thecrossword puzzle.

    After the experiment, by using games

    to teach grammar, a Post-Test was offered tounderstand the effectiveness of the gameson the learners while learning grammar.The questions were simple, like the Pre-Test, due to the proficiency level of thelearners. All the findings observed arereported and discussed below.

    4. Findings, Analysis and Discussion

    After observing the classes of theteachers teaching grammar and then

    teaching grammar using games, the followingfindings were observed-4.1 Findings of the observation:

    Based on the observation, theresearcher noticed that there was minimalvariation in the teaching style which is used

    to teach grammar. The teachers sometimesused games for teaching words but not forteaching grammar. Teaching grammar wasbased on writing the rules and the examples

    on the board, explaining the lesson and thengiving some exercises to answer. The rulesthen were copied by the students in theirnotebooks from the board and they had torevise and memorise the rules at home. Forthe teachers, this strategy was effective as thelessons were usually given in the limitedtime of the class but unfortunately at the endof the lesson, most of the students did notparticipate actively and some even could notunderstand what the teacher explained.

    Only a very little number of studentsparticipated in solving the exercises. It wasobserved that the learners, who were sittingin the front, participated with the teacherwhile those sitting at the back, were almostsleeping. The students felt bored, from timeto time, with the same grammar exercises.The students seemed to suffer from variousproblems, mainly associated with factors likelow motivation as they could not see therationale behind learning grammar and thisprobably caused passivism observed duringthe grammar lesson.4.2

    Findingof the Pre-TestDuring the pre-test, some questions

    were asked to the students. Arabic languagewas used when there was difficulty inunderstanding the questions. Answersreceived are tabulated below-Q. 1 Do you like learningEnglish?(Yes, No)When the students were asked about theirattitudes towards learning English, it wasfound that 78% of them dislike leaning

    English whereas only 22% of them liked it.The findings indicate that the majority of thestudents were not interested and motivated tolearn.Table: 1 Students response to the question 1

    Options No. of responses Percentag

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    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

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    Ye 11 22No 3 78

    Q. 2 Do you like learninggrammar?(Yes, No)The students' responses are shown in the

    following table.Table: 2 Students response to the question 2Options No. of responses Percentag

    Ye 1 30No 3 70

    Q. 3 Is learninggrammar easy or difficult for you?The following findings were obtained to thisquestion. 70% of the students replied thatlearning grammar was hard and difficult taskfor them. The other 30% responded thatlearning grammar was easy for them.Table: 3 Students response to the question 3

    Option No. ofresponses Percentag

    Learninggrammar issimple and easy

    1 30

    Learninggrammar isdifficult and boring

    37 70

    Q. 4. Do you like the idea of learninggrammar byusinggames? (Yes, No)To this question, the following responseswere obtained.Table: 4 Students response to the question 4

    Option No. of response PercentageYe 47 94

    No 3 6It is clear from the responses in table:4

    that almost 94% of the participants from theselected primary schools liked the idea oflearning grammar with games. Only 6%replied negatively.The following findings were obtained fromthe Pre-Test:1. Most of the Libyan EFL learners in theprimary schools are demotivated and do notlike learning English

    2. They do not like learning grammar3. They consider learning grammar asdifficult and boring task and4. Majority of them loves and likes to betaught grammar using games.

    4.3 Findings of the Post-Test [given after theexperiment of teachinggrammar with games]

    After the selected participants weretaught using games, they were given Post-

    Test to check if their initial attitudesremained same or changed and to assess theeffectiveness of grammar games on theirlearning on English in general and grammarin particular. Again, the test was quite simpleand was oral like the Pre-Test. They wereasked simple questions to understand theeffectiveness of the games on their learningprocess.Q. 1. What is your attitude towards learningEnglish ingeneral and grammar in particular?

    This question was directed towards

    understanding their attitudes and perceptionstowards learning English in general andgrammar in particular after the use of gamesinside their classroom. To this, followingresponses were obtained-Table: 5 Learners responses to question 1

    Option Agre Do notagree

    LearningEnglish is eas 85 15Learninggrammar i easy &fun

    90 10

    As is visible from the table above, theLibyan EFL learners perceptions towardslearning English in general and grammar inparticular changed positively after the use ofgames inside their classrooms. Almost 85%of the participants replied positively andconsidered learning English easy. Same weretheir responses for learning grammar. Almost90% of the participants reported that learninggrammar was not only easy but alsointeresting and fun for them. This implies theeffectiveness of the use of games in changing

    the earlier negative perceptions of the LibyanEFL learners towards learning English ingeneral and vocabulary in particular.Q. 2. Do you like the experience of playinggames inthe class?

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    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

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    The Libyan EFL learners loved and wouldlike their teachers to teach them grammarusing games inside their classrooms.

    4.4Discussion of the FindingsFrom the analysis of the collected data

    and the findings obtained before and afterthe use of games, it can be concluded that theuse of games for teaching grammar in theprimary schools in Sebha was quite effective.It helped in changing the negativeperceptions of the Libyan EFL learnerstowards English in general and grammar inparticular. I t also helped in making learningEnglish grammar interesting and fun and alsohelped in increasing learner motivation andparticipation inside the classroom. To sumup, the use of games was quite effective andbeneficial in many ways inside the EFLclassrooms of the Libyan primary schools inSebha for teaching and learning grammar.This confirms the findings and arguments insupport of the use of games presented byvarious scholars like Brumfit (1995), Dolatiand Mikaili (2011), Cameron (2012).It was also observed that the students whopracticed in learning with games felt moremotivated and interested in what they were

    doing. They were active and fully involvedin the process of leaning grammar. Thelearning atmosphere in the class was quiterelaxed and cheerful. Even the shy studentsshowed the enthusiasm to participate in theactivity. Games helped in making grammarlearning meaningful rather than justmemorizing and reproducing rules withoutunderstanding. Teachers also expressed aninterest in the use of games as well as abelief that games helped them in changing

    monotonous atmosphere of the class and inincreasing students participation. The useof games made teaching and learning funand interesting activity as well as also helpedboth teachers and learners in theirpreparation for class and tests.

    Using games, especially duringteaching English as a foreign or secondlanguage, has various linguistics andmotivational benefits both for teachers and

    learners. The findings of the present studyconfirmed this as both the learners andteachers indicated that the use of games intheir grammar classes helped thempositively. The students had more fun whilelearning and participated in the classbecause games provided them with moreenjoyment and helped them do better andfelt better about themselves. While playinggames, the selected participants also feltreleased and relaxed as games helped them

    in overcoming their inhibitions. Learnersbecame highly motivated and the level ofstress was at the low level. Similarexperiment of applying grammar games inELT classes was carried by Musilov (2010).The findings from his experiment showssimilar results in which using games whilstteaching and explaining grammar rules orstructures, was definitely very effective andsuccessful for teaching young learners. In hisconclusion, he affirms that although thepreparation for teaching grammar by thisway is a little bit time-consuming and itneeds much thinking and creative approachfrom the teacher, but it is definitely worthbecause children do not consider grammaras the necessary evil.

    The findings of this study are also inline with the views expressed by manywriters and linguists as Lee (1979) who haslisted several advantages of grammar gamesincluding "a welcome break from the usualroutine of the language class", "motivating

    and challenging", and "language practice inthe various skills", etc (P. 35). To sum upthe discussion, all the data collected duringthe observation, Pre-Test, Experiment usinggames and Post-Test substantiate thatteaching grammar through games can be a

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    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

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    successful and effective approach ortechnique in foreign language teaching andlearning situation like Libya. I t is thetechnique which can prove to be very

    effective in increasing learner participation,learner motivation and in helpingdeveloping positive attitudes towards foreignlanguage like English in general and aspectlike grammar in particular. I t can help bothteachers and students to present and revisethe grammar rules in a more interesting,shorter, smarter and better way. It can alsobe beneficial in creating a good learningenvironment and acquiring the targetlanguage in more easy and interesting

    manner.4.5 RecommendationsBased upon the findings of the study, thefollowing recommendations are offered forEFL teachers to make teaching and learninggrammar, with the use of games, easy,learner-cantered, motivational and moredynamic.

    Grammar games should be a part ofgrammar teaching activities and techniquesamong the EFL teachers.

    Teachers should use and exploit the useof games for making their teaching easy,interesting, learner-cantered andmotivational.Teachers should be careful while selectinggrammar games if they want to make themprofitable for the learning process.If games are to bring desired results, theymust correspond to either the studentslevel, or age, or to the material that is to beintroduced or practiced.

    Not all games are appropriate for allstudents irrespective of their age. Differentage groups require various topics, materials,and modes of games. Children, forexample, benefit most from games whichrequire moving around, imitating a model,competing between groups.

    The teacher needs to behave in differentways at different stages of a lesson to ensurethe success of using games.A teachers role is very significant in

    achieving the desired outcomes while usingthe grammar games. The teacher rolerefers to the different functions a teachercan have in the class. To achieve themaximum benefits from the use of gamesin EFL grammar classes, the following rolesof an EFL teacher are desired. A teachermust:Figure: 4 Roles of teacher in grammar classes withthe use of games

    5. Conclusion

    For many students, learning grammaris a really boring and a hard job. To show

    pupils that learning grammar could be a funand interesting, different activities like gamesshould be used as one of the ways. Theexperience from the relevant researchreveals: that teaching grammar throughdifferent activities like games is better thanteaching grammar as a formal system

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    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

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    through sticking to the given exercises in thetextbooks, if our aim is for students to usegrammar more effectively andconventionally. When planning the use of

    games, the teacher needs to consider whathis/her objectives are. Also the teachershould have experience and be familiar withthe ways of using games, puzzles, their rulesand concentrate on the time, place, tools,and the groups as well. Although, it cannotbe said that games are always better andeasier to cope with all students, many pupilscan find games relaxing and motivating.Therefore, games should be an integral partof a lesson, providing the possibility of

    intensive practice while at the same timevery enjoyable both for the students andteachers. To sum up, the preparation forteaching grammar using games, can be alittle bit time-consuming which requiresmuch thinking and creative approach fromthe teacher, but it is definitely worth as it canhelp in achieving the true aims andobjectives of EFL teaching and learning ingeneral and grammar in particular bymaking the process learner centered.

    About the Authors:Mustafa Mubarak Pathanworks as a lecturer inEnglish with the Department of English Languageand Translation Studies of the Faculty of Arts ofthe University of Sebha, Sebha, Libya. He hasbeen teaching English as Foreign Language andApplied Linguistics for last 10 years and haspublished many articles in various international

    journals. His major areas of research interestsinclude- Discourse Analysis, Stylistics, TeachingEnglish as Foreign Language and ComputerAssisted Language Teaching, Learning and

    Testing.Zamzam Emhemmad Mari Aldersiworks as aninstructor with the Department of EnglishLanguage and Translation studies of the Facultyof Arts of the University of Sebha, Sebha, Libya.Her major research interests include- Teaching of

    English as Foreign Language and ComputerAssisted Language Teaching and Learning.

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    T eaching.London: LongmanKhan, J(1996).Using games in teaching Englishto young learners in (eds) Brumfit, C, T eachingEnglish to Chi ldren. From Practice to PrincipleEngland: LongmanLee, W. R. (1979). Language teaching gamesand contests. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Musilov, L (2010). Grammar Games inELT.Masaryk University Brno. (PublishedBachelor thesis)Nguyen, T. T. H., & Khuat, T. T. N. (2003,December).Learning vocabulary through games.

    Asian EFL Journal. Retrieved January 25, 2014Palnov, K. (2010) Use of Games in EnglishLanguage Teaching.Masaryk University in BrnoFaculty of Education. (Published Bachelorthesis)Petty, G. (2004). Teaching today: a practicalguide.Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.abatov, J. (2006).Teaching Grammar at TheBasic Schools according to The FrameworkEducational Programme. Masaryk University inBrno Pedagogical Faculty.(Published Bachelorthesis)

    Salopek, J. J. (1999). Stop Playing Games.T raining and D evelopment Journal.Siek-Piskozub, T. (1994).Gry izabawynauczaniujezykwobcych. Warszawa:WSiPUberman, A.(1998, January- March). The useof games for vocabulary presentation and

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    Cite this article as: Pathan, Mustafa & Aldersi, Zamzam (2014) Using Games in Primary Schools for EffectiveGrammar Teaching: a Case Study from Sebha. I nternational Journal of English Language & T ranslation Studies.2(2), 211-227 Retrieved from http://www.eltsjournal.org

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    revision.Forum, 36(1), 20-27. RetrievedDecember-2013 at 4:00 a.m. fromhttp://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol36/no1/p20.htmVernon, S. A.(2006). Discover how your PupilsCan Learn to Speak English 2x as Fast whenthey re excited about Learning. UsingHundreds of Fun English Games. TeachingEnglish Games. Learning is Fun.Retrieved fromhttp://www.teachingenglishgames.com/4-12.htm.Williams, J. D. (2005).The Teachers GrammarBook (Second Edition). Lawrence ErlbaumAssociates, Publishers: Mahwah, New JerseyLondonWillis, D. (2009).Rules, Patterns and W ords.Grammar and Lexis in English LanguageT eaching. Cambridge University Press.

    Woods, G. (2010). English Grammar forDummies. Second Edition. Wiley Publishing,Inc.Wright, A., Betteridge, D &Buckby, M.(2009).Games for language learning.CambridgeUniversity Press.Zdybiewska, M. (1994). One-hundred languagegames. Warszawa: WSiP.http://www.TheD isadvantagesofU singLanguageGamesinT eachingVocabularyeH ow.com.H ttp://www.W hatAretheD ifferentT ypesofGrammarGames.htm

    Appendix: 1

    Acros2. die6. crisis8. bacterium9. loaf10. donkey12. life

    14. stimulus16. ox19. shelf20. passerby21.mouthful

    Down1. goose2. deer3. child4. radius5. mouse7. roof

    11. spoonful12. louse13. echo15. tooth17. piano18. fly