Mediamorphoses, or the Comeback of a Hangman

Games are often considered pure entertainment and waste of time. Everybody enjoys them but nobody takes them seriously, except for children. Playing for them is not just an exciting activity but also a unique learning experience. So, why don’t we, adults, follow their example and transform our ‘learning by doing’ in ‘learning by playing’?

Luckily, the age of modern technologies gives us all the cards. In the recent years there has been a real boom in gaming industry that could not let language learning intact. Together with thousands of new grammar games emerging on the market, there has been a revival of their forerunners. Traditional paper and pencil guessing games like crosswords, Hangman and Scrabble became popular again in their new online versions.

Crosswords have been around in different forms since Egyptian times but took on the familiar name “crosswords” in the 1920’s, when Simon and Schuster printed the first book of them in the US. Recently there has been a renewed interest in this game and thousands of crosswords with hints, floating clues, and a “print” option streamed into the web space to occupy their niche among other interactive learning activities.

Another word game, the Hangman, born in Victorian times under the name “Birds, Beasts and Fishes” has recently celebrated its comeback in a Basic JavaScript application and a number of regional varieties (Chinese, Irish and even Simpsons‘). The world’s top word game Scrabble that has already conquered 121 countries and 29 languages entered the social networking and is now available in its online variation Scrabulous on Facebook.

The list can certainly be continued but after two-three hundred you will probably get lost: what game to choose?

The most important point to consider in picking up the word game is what language skills you would like to develop.
If you need to improve your skills in vocabulary, reasoning, spelling and differentiating between similar terms go for crossword puzzles. Dr. Robert Myers, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, mentions crossword puzzles as a tool for improving attention for words and sequencing issues. Scrabble will help you to build skills in spelling, vocabulary and phoneme recognition. For those who would like to focus on vocabulary online vocabulary quizzes might be the best option. Solving quizzes, you will remember the word meaning in sentence context, which is considered one of the most effective ways of expanding the vocabulary. Hangman is a fun way to build spelling, logic and decoding skills while match games can be useful for improving visual memory and pronunciation.

Whatever you choose, online word games are a great way to increase your command of word meanings and spellings. Learning this way is much more effective than simply looking up words in a dictionary or filling in the gaps of boring exercises.


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