Choose your game or activity carefully to fit the needs, abilities, and age of your students. If the activity is too complex for young learners or too childish for older learners, it won’t be successful.
Be purposeful. Don’t treat an activity, game, or gadget as just silly play. Yes, it’s fun, but it should also have a serious learning purpose. Help students feel that they’re learning and accomplishing something as they play.
Build accountability into your activity. Give students a specific task to do, something to produce, or a chart to fill out to ensure that they’re on task.
Explain what the students are going to do and why. For example, you might say, “This game will help you practice the /v/ sound” or “When you imitate this video, it will help your intonation sound more natural.”
Give simple, clear instructions step by step. Plan ahead of time how you’ll give instructions. (Exactly what are the steps for students to follow? What words will you use to explain them? What misunderstandings could arise, and how can you avoid these by making the instructions very clear?) Check to be sure students understand the instructions. Some teachers like to ensure understanding by having students repeat the instructions back to them. Demonstrate what to do by doing it yourself or by trying it with a student.
Remind students of your expectations for behavior, especially with younger learners. They shouldn’t be allowed to goof off or misbehave just because they’re doing something “fun.” Make your expectations stick.
During the activity, walk around the room and monitor students’ work. Nip problems in the bud. Keep students on task.
Don’t overdo the “fun stuff,” or students will get bored. Use games or gadgets as the dessert, not the whole meal.