Blog Archive

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Why I think Speed Games are great for my slow students

I'm a bit fan of speed games, especially as a warm up for class. For me, there's nothing better than getting my students' heart and adrenaline racing with a game which forces them to think on their toes. Unfortunately, my CT's aren't always big on doing speed games.

But there's many other reasons why I like using them--

It eliminates mental bullshit.
I'm a firm believer that kids absorb more than we think. Aside from popping my students wide awake at the beginning of class so I have their attention, speed games fool the mind into thinking it knows the answer!  Often the mind does know the answer; but given too much time, self-doubt, laziness and shyness sneak in to kill confidence.  Speed
games cut out the mind's B.S. 

The stakes are raised and there's no backing out.
Speed pushes students to concentrated focus and best of all, it makes them WANT to focus.  Most students like a bit of a challenge and want to test how good they can be, but enduring a longer period of self discipline is hard. Speed games are quick, short and painless.

It's a form of sport (and yes, competition).
Korean kids are ultra competitive and that's why every lesson involves a game. So what's new? Speed games allow students to experience drama and climax vs. one monotone class. As I said, speed games have raised stakes; it gets your heart pumping.  Stakes are highest here because its limited by time.

It encourages fluidity, team work and for students to think on their toes.
Do anything quick enough, and you'll find the answers just flow. You become one with speed, your teammates and environment.

If I direct my speed games towards teamwork (i.e. a speed chain where each contributes the answer down the line), my slower kids participate more. Oddly, they like speed challenges. Unlike individual challenges, they get immense praise from their classmates when they guess a correct answer. This builds confidence. Students know who the weak links in their class are; thus, the weak student also senses this stigma and when they're expected to fail, they generally do. But if they succeed and contradict their classmates' ideas about them, the entire class cheers; this gives the weak student hope for change.

Additionally, it encourages fluidity in a way that my slower students are injected into the team network without notice. If they contribute their part, they feel good to be "helping" their team to success. If they don't try, the whole team gets on them. Korea being a community-oriented society, higher students generally help their weaker classmates. They will occasionally intervene to help push the slow ones over the wall so that the team can succeed. 

No, speed doesn't kill; it improves life!


  1. Yep, speed games are fun - as long as the 'weaker' kids HAVE to participate in an equal fashion. Otherwise, the team may simply ignore that person's efforts.

  2. @Chris in South Korea: Yeah. I crack the whip & I don't. I DON'T give pity breaks for weakness-- that would only discount the true challenge of the game & me as the challenger. BUT,I also need my weak kids to feel confidence in their attempts & occasionally, find success. They need to know they have the "potential for success". It's a careful balance. So I give the weak ones the questions which I know are fresh in their memory because I've just practiced it w/ them individually. Also, I give them time to pre-form their answer before getting to their team. Really subtle things like that. It's worked so far- knock on wood.

    Their confidence improves during the game because no one actually expects them to answer or to get their answer correct. The positive returns for them are high.

  3. Thank you for this. I wonder if you might be able to direct me to an online resource of speed games.