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October 2020 - Year 22 - Issue 5

ISSN 1755-9715

The Use of TV Game Shows in the Classroom

Viktória Gergelyová is a teacher at VAGeS language school and a third year PhD student at the Faculty of Central European Studies at the Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra. Her research mainly focuses on mapping and improving reading comprehension skills in primary schools. In addition, she is interested in creative language teaching by using games and promoting fun during the lessons. Email:



This article deals with the question of how TV game shows can be adopted in the ELT classroom. Modern methodologies deal a lot with the question of how to increase students’ motivation and learning. One of the best ways is to utilize students’ interest in and use of technology in the classroom. TV game shows are very popular with most people and using them creatively in the classroom can inspire active learning, develop student-centred attitudes, and help students to acquire a knowledge of English more easily.

Games are one of the most effective ways to motivate learners because they blend both competition and collaboration in the classroom.  Moreover, they are versatile and can be used in different ways depending on the size of the class, age of the students and the topic of the lesson. Everyone can be involved at the same time and students can become responsible for their learning.

There are many possibilities for how TV game shows can be applied in the classroom. In this article, I would like to introduce just some popular game shows, but of course, there are many more of them which can be used successfully in teaching, and especially in teaching grammar.


The idea of active learning by using TV game shows

It is necessary to take into consideration that we are living in a technological society and that, as a result, learning styles have changed in recent years. The teaching process must be attuned to the students’ interests and learning styles, consequently teachers are responsible for making sure that there is compatibility between a student’s learning styles and the teaching styles of the teacher.

The idea of using technology and games in the learning process is not new. There is considerable research that shows how they can be used in education to promote students’ motivation and engagement (e.g. Fotaris, Mastoras, Leinfellner, Rosunally, 2016). It is important that students should be active participants in the learning process; merely transmitting knowledge from the teacher to the passive student is ineffective. The aim of an active learning approach is not just information transfer, but a process which promotes cognitive development and transforms the students into an active (co)-constructor of knowledge.

While TV game shows are part of most people´s everyday lives, they can also be powerful teaching vehicles by helping to facilitate the student learning process. TV game shows can help to incorporate active learning into the classroom by introducing an element of competition When watching a game show, people are cognitively engaged, maybe because they are (albeit vicariously) participating along with the contestants in the show The importance of playing games has been long acknowledged in cognitive development and learning. Game shows provide the conditions which allow learners to be engaged over long periods.

Active learning methods improve students’ willingness to attend the classroom, they intensify students´ motivation and encourage them to study at home to prepare for the class.

Game shows can create a favourable atmosphere and a supportive environment which helps students to learn. Moreover, game shows encourage both cooperation and competition. There is rivalry among the teams, which means that there is creative competition between different groups of students. At the same time, there is cooperation among members of each team. Working in teams encourage the students to learn with and to learn from each other. In addition, from time to time, all students have to take on individual responsibility within the team and this can develop leadership skills. So, cooperation within the teams works like the well-known motto: one for all, all for one.

Another advantage of game show is that they allow the exploitation of different learning styles. This is very important because every person learns differently, and good teaching addresses a variety of learning styles. Some students learn from lectures, and they learn by listening. Others can benefit from seeing pictures, shapes, diagrams. The use of TV game shows allows students to learn by watching, listening, and discussing how to tackle different tasks.


The difference between ‘TV game shows’ and ‘TV game show-based learning’

TV game shows are not the same as TV game show-based learning. Teachers need to evaluate TV game shows from an educational perspective. People simply enjoy watching TV game shows, and maybe try to answer some questions. However, they do not necessarily learn a lot from them. It is necessary to be aware of these fundamental disparities if you wish to adapt and use them effectively in the classroom.

Most of the TV shows have formats that are ultimately flexible. The teacher can change the way the game is played by adding his/her own rules, and add other ideas, according to the age of the students and the topic that is being taught. These modifications are necessary to create the appropriate pedagogic conditions. In the classroom, the questions can be presented via PowerPoint slides and projected onto the screen classroom- one question per slide, with the possible answers. The tasks used in games can help students to review the material they are studying and stimulate further discussions in the classroom.

The idea is just to create the atmosphere of the show by using the main concept but with slightly different rules. In a TV game show, there is no time to elaborate on the material related to a question, no time to have discussions about the topics, and usually, there is no major topic that the content is centred around. However, in the classroom there is time to stop the game anytime to explain, to   review language, to provide the correct answer to a question. The number of players can be changed, too. On TV, individual contestants play against each other, but in the classroom, the main point is to involve as many students as possible.  While the TV game show has just one or two contestants (and the audience is passive), in the classroom, it is possible to have more contestants, more teams that can involve the whole class. The teacher’s role is not just to be a host of the game show but also to be a teacher. In other words, it is not just about facilitating the game show but also ensuring that learning is taking place.

Game shows can be used anytime in the classroom. They are useful for checking what students already know. During the teaching process, we can use them to incorporate new knowledge with the students’ previous knowledge. Game shows can also help us to carry out a review without calling it a review. When a question is asked, people’s brains automatically reflect on it.

The question ‘hijacks’ people’s thought processes and focuses it entirely on the answer. So, when students see or hear the question (even if not all of them answer it aloud), their brain forces them to think about it. In this way, it can be good for revision and useful preparation for a test because it helps students to be aware of what they already know and what they do not. Both the students and the teacher can become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the learners.


Using “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in the classroom

A good example of   a TV game shows we can use in the classroom is “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”. When adopting this game in the classroom, the teacher can have the role of the host and one or several students can become the contestants. The presenter prepares questions related to the topic of the current lesson.

However, there are many possible ways to use this TV game show in the teaching process. In the TV show, there is just one contestant and the audience are passive. However, in the classroom, it can be an individual game, a game of two players, a team game, or a whole class game by involving everyone at the same time. In the case of a whole class game, it is a good idea to divide students into four groups and give them a letter. If they think that their letter is the correct answer, every member of the group must stand up. Of course, they must present arguments and persuade each other to stand up or sit down. The idea of two teams allows us to divide students into two groups and two students are the contestants at the same time. If they fail to answer a question, they change their roles from contestant to audience, and a new student from the group becomes the player.

The TV show offers three possible lifelines, but in the classroom all of them or none of them may be used. According to the teacher’s choice, there can be the same number or even different lifelines. Other options for help can be, for example, giving a clue, picking the name of a classmate to help, or searching for the answer in notes. Templates for this TV game shows are available on the Internet. The teacher can enhance the atmosphere of the game by using the sound effects of the real game show and by using the standard question: “Is this your final answer?”.

Another idea for using this show is in grammar teaching. The teacher writes a question such as “how to write it correctly?” There are four possible answers. The students choose the correct answer and explain why that is the correct one and why the other options are not. If they are not sure about the answer, the teacher can stop the game and give the appropriate explanation.


Applying “Jeopardy” to the classroom

Jeopardy is one of the most popular game shows on TV. The main idea is that there are different categories with different questions. The easiest questions lead to fewer points, while the harder questions gain more points. The contestants compete for money by answering questions. If their answer is correct, they win the points for the question. If the answer is incorrect, they lose the points.

In the classroom, this game show can be used in different ways. As with the previous game, it can be an individual game where students compete by themselves. It can also be a game for pairs, or a team game according to the class.

Using this game show for a grammar class allows us to give categories and questions for the topic of spelling. It is possible to give open-ended questions or different tasks from grammar such as correcting a text or explaining a task.



ELT methodology nowadays, deals a lot with the question of how to make a lesson more interesting, how to connect students’ interests with the curriculum. TV game shows provide an enjoyable and interactive approach to teaching which can be powerful because they enrich both the teacher and the students in the classroom. The games allow for immediate feedback and make everyone more aware of their strength and weaknesses.

As we have seen above, game shows can be very versatile.  They can be used, for example, to reinforce and verify students’ knowledge of the curriculum. The traditional roles of the teachers are changed. They switch their role from the authoritative leader to a game show host.  Games can support all types of learning styles. For example, students can see the materials, hear the answers, and they can even work with it in different ways.

TV game shows are not to the same as TV game show-based learning. There are some significant differences between them, and teachers must be aware of these differences. They must be seen from an educational perspective. These game formats, however, are very flexible and teachers can change anything they want or use them differently.

In this paper, some ideas for using Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Jeopardy were shown. Both games are well-known TV game shows. In the classroom, they can be used in many ways, like we can change the number of players, the points for questions, the type of questions.



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