What is Targeted Play?

children playing tug of war, all smiling

Children having fun with targeted play!

In today’s globalized world, learning a foreign language is becoming increasingly important. Whether it is for work, travel, or personal enrichment, being able to communicate in another language can open up a world of opportunities. However, learning a new language can be challenging, and many students struggle to engage with the material. This is where targeted play comes in.

Targeted play refers to the use of games, activities, and other play-based approaches to facilitate language development. In this post, we will explore the benefits of targeted play in the foreign language classroom. 

Increased motivation: 

One of the most significant benefits of targeted play in the foreign language classroom is increased motivation. Traditional language learning methods can be dull and repetitive, leading to disengagement and boredom.  

However, by incorporating play-based activities, teachers can make the learning process more fun and engaging. When students are having fun, they are more likely to be motivated and enthusiastic about learning. This can lead to improved retention of language skills and a more positive attitude towards learning. 

Improved language acquisition: 

Another key benefit of targeted play is improved language acquisition. Traditional language learning methods often rely heavily on memorization and repetition, which can be ineffective and uninspiring. 

 However, play-based activities can help students acquire new vocabulary and grammar structures in a natural, contextualized way. By engaging in fun and interactive activities, students can practice using language in real-world situations, which can help them internalize new forms and structures more effectively. This can lead to improved fluency and confidence in using the target language.

Enhanced communication skills: 

Targeted play can also help students develop their communication skills in the target language. By engaging in games and activities with their classmates, students can practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing in a low-stress, supportive environment.  

This can help them develop their language skills in a more natural and intuitive way, leading to improved communication skills overall. Additionally, play-based activities can help students develop their nonverbal communication skills, such as body language and facial expressions, which are critical components of effective communication in any language. 

Increased cultural awareness: 

Many targeted play activities are designed to teach students about the culture of the target language. By engaging in play-based activities that involve cultural elements, students can develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the culture associated with the language they are learning.  

This can help them better understand and interact with people from different cultural backgrounds, which is a valuable skill in today’s globalized world. Additionally, cultural awareness can help students develop a more nuanced understanding of the language they are learning, as language and culture are often closely intertwined. 

Development of social skills: 

Targeted play can also help students develop important social skills, such as cooperation, collaboration, and problem-solving. By working together to complete tasks and achieve common goals, students can learn to communicate effectively and to work well with others.  

This can help them develop valuable teamwork skills that will serve them well in any aspect of life. Additionally, play-based activities can help students develop their problem-solving skills, as they must use critical thinking and creativity to solve puzzles and complete challenges. 


Overall, targeted play can be a valuable tool in the foreign language classroom. By incorporating play-based activities into their teaching, teachers can improve student motivation, enhance language acquisition, develop communication and cultural awareness, and foster the development of important social skills.  

This can lead to improved language proficiency, increased confidence, and a more positive attitude towards learning. As such, targeted play should be an essential component of any foreign language curriculum. 


Want to read more regarding this topic? Comment and let us know what your favorite targeted play methods are!

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