‘Edutainment’ is a dirty word.
Edutainment (education + entertainment) in the TEFL world is what happens when a teacher can’t be bothered to deliver a good lesson, and instead just plays games that barely meet the criteria of being educational. Entertaining, but ultimately worthless once you’ve factored in the time that they waste.
Is edutainment really that bad? Yes. Here’s why:
1. It’s Lazy.
There’s no real justification for it. Plan a decent lesson with your students at the centre. It’s your job, so if you don’t like it, get a new career.
2. It’s Theft
When you get right down to it, it’s stealing time from your students. Time that has a defined hourly value, that either they or their parents have paid for. Shame on you.
3. Loss of Respect from Students
It might seem that your students love your classes more the more games you play with them, but it’s an illusion. They know what a good class is, they know that they’re goofing off, and they now know that you’re an ineffective teacher.
4. Loss of Self-Respect
You know you’re taking the easy way out, right? A class with nothing but ineffectual games, cobbled together at the last minute. You can do better. You can give the students substance, a well-thought out plan that addresses their needs as language learners. You’ll also feel great about it when you see them achieve their objectives.
5. It Hurts Learner Motivation
There’s no substance, so students demand even more entertainment the next lesson. Compare it to eating habits – if kids are allowed to eat sugary sweets between meals, they’ll stop eating and appreciating healthy, well-balanced food. The same with learning – the ‘filler’ activities distract from useful activities, and learners will no longer have the discipline to concentrate through the more challenging, learning activities.
I’m not saying that there’s no place for fun activities. I’m also not saying that if you give one ‘cheat’ class as a reward or end of term fun that you’ll be immediately condemned to the fiery pits of TEFL hell.
What I am saying is that I’ve seen too many people try to coast along with the minimum amount of effort required, to the detriment of the students and themselves. It’s such a shame – TEFL can be so rewarding. I guess the old cliché is true, you really do get out what you put in.