The communicative approach is one of the most characteristic features of contemporary language teaching. This paper aims to study ways of achieving communicative competence of students by using informal language practice and games in teaching. It attempts to look more closely at the relationship between language acquisition, language games and communicative language teaching. This study is based on the theory that language games and informal language practice allow natural learning to occur and provide opportunities for developing communicative competence in a foreign language. While games and informal language practice are widely used in language classrooms in many countries, it appears from the writer’s observation and experience of teaching English in China that there is still, among Chinese teachers and students, a great deal of suspicion and uncertainty about the functions and the effectiveness of such classroom activities. Problems detected in language classrooms in using these activities and games suggest that Chinese teachers and students have misunderstood and misused these activities. In this study, it is hoped to analyze in some depth the problems involved in using language games in China, including the attitudes, teaching methods and expectations of the teachers and students. Also, it is hoped to investigate the optimal use of games and practice in Chinese classrooms. As the use of games has received little serious attention in China to date, it is hoped, finally, to suggest ways of using games effectively to improve learners’ communicative ability.
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