Regardless of the subject, children tend to be more engaged if they are having fun during the learning process. For decades games have been touted as an effective educational tool.

Proponents of game-based learning believe play with a purpose can help children retain what they are being taught while developing important non-cognitive skills such as persistence and communication skills. This explains why games have become such a popular method for teaching foreign languages. Students are required to use the language they are learning in a variety of ways such as writing, speaking or reading in order to succeed in the game. Educators are also finding this kind of gameplay to be helpful when it comes to teaching children American Sign Language.

When we hear the term “educational games” when might think of stuffy, computer-based exercises that bear little resemblance to the games we grew up playing as children. While there are a number of excellent sign language games available online, many of the most popular games used to teach ASL are simply new twists on old favorites. Since these games are so well known it is likely that most children will already be familiar with the rules which will allow them to focus more of their attention on actually practicing sign language and winning the game.

If you remember “Telephone” from when you were younger, it is obvious how you could adapt this game to teaching sign language. Assemble students in a circle and begin by having the first child sign something to their neighbor, rather than saying it, and then see how the information changes as it is passed from person to person. As with the spoken version of the game, the original information can go through some hilarious changes by the time it travels around the circle.

“Word Association” is a game that helps children develop memory and vocabulary. The teacher gives the students a single word. A child begins the game by choosing a word that they associate with the original word and the game continues with each player taking a turn building on the other players progress until an agreed upon word limit is reached. By simply requiring players to sign the words rather than speaking, “Word Association” becomes a fun and challenging ASL activity.

“Bingo” is sometimes used in American schools to teach English as a second language. It can easily be modified to teach ASL. The “caller” uses sign language to let players know what letter-number combination they need to check on their bingo card. Students must be able to understand the caller’s signing in order to determine if they have a match on their bingo card. Special cards are available which replace the regular bingo card letter-number combinations with words, pictures, or math problems which offer more of a challenge for advanced students.

These are only a few examples of how traditional games could be adapted to teach ASL.

Several games have also been created specifically to help children learn sign language in a manner that improves their chances of retention. These games can be played in the classroom with other students or alone on an electronic device. Incorporating a few of these games into your ASL curriculum not only creates a fun educational experience for children but may also contribute to their success.

Article written by ASLGames.Net