Gamify ELT!

gamification-2As gamification was one of the topics discussed and referred to in the context of this TELL and teaching course, many students may now think gamification is all about using technology. I am happy to say that this is not the case however; ‘old school’ games are still here to play! The correct definition of gamification is simply the use of game elements in a context which does not typically contain these elements, in this case: in the context of learning and teaching. If you think game elements are indeed typically part of learning and teaching a language, we agree completely. Game elements make learning and teaching more effective, varied, challenging, engaging, activating, motivating,… do I need to go on (after all TEFL courses you have had so far)?

Sem van Geffen in his book Gamification in de klas, distinguishes four categories of gamification that may help you understand the link with technology (or not) a bit better. At the same time it may give you more ideas to use gamification in your teaching. The four categories van Geffen describes are:article-2660807-1ede681c00000578-630_634x410

  • physical games, e.g. a board games, speech cards
  • digital games, e.g. online vocabulary game, like Freerice.
  • blended games, in which you combine technology with physical presence, e.g. using Mentimeter or Kahoot to interact in class kahoot
  • hybrid reality games or mixed reality games, which take place in both reality and virutal reality simultaneously, e.g. a debate or a hackaton. Click here for a definition.

More examples of games per category can be found here. On this community website of Mission Start, you will also find examples of good practice with educational gaming and tips & tricks. On 6 April 2016 a gamification conference is held, but unfortunately the event has been sold out (no surprise). An event you can still register for is a five-day (!) hackaton for educational purposes (so less programming) in Utrecht in May. More information can be found here.

If you would like to find out more about gamification in general, you can read the aforementioned book or download van Geffen’s new book (for free!) on the following website: from 12 April next! I am sure you can use your instrumental skills to make a reminder for this useful date in your favourite app or ‘old school’ diary.

UPDATE: the (digital) booklet is now available from



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