Language games: When Jacking Up Your Language Skills Is All Fun and Games

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April 27, 2021
Language games: When Jacking Up Your Language Skills Is All Fun and Games

If you’re just about getting straight to the game suggestions then follow this link.

That will shoot you right to the bottom where the language game examples start.

But before throwing a few of those gems at you there are some things to be said about learning style and why language games could be a good idea for shuffling the motivation bag and keep your fluency goals sharp.

Let’s play.

Contents

Your Style of Learning

A Game of Languages

Language Games for You

Get Playing With Beelinguapp

Your Style of Learning

If you’re anything like me, learning a new language starts to feel trivial, even boring, when you encounter the same repetitions, the same practice of conjugation, the same narrative, basically, anything that has the same style over and over again. It just doesn’t feel as sexy and exciting anymore.

So, how about playing a game with a new language? You know, just once in a while to keep the flirt going.

Well yes, of course, we will go down this road but remember, learning a new language does take deliberate practice there’s just no way around it.

Now that we got that tiny detail out of the way…

You probably already know about different learning styles that can work as a ‘novel’ way of sparking your early days love affair with the language you’re set to become fluent in.

Maybe you’ve also heard that if you use the style that specifically fits you best, it’s all going to ‘click’ for you a lot easier.

Before we get to how something and breezy as a game could improve a foreign language, let’s talk about our preferred styles of learning.

For your sizzling desire to learn better, Beelinguapp provides a combination of visual and auditory learning which in linguistic terms are called ‘assisted learning’. If you’re someone who thrives in either or both of these learning realms I’d suggest you give it a try.

Anyway, where were we? Right, learning styles.

Typically students, (or just regular language nerds such as yourself), can be put into three categories of learners. According to that theory, we all have different learning styles.

The Visual

A visual or spatial learning style rests upon the idea that you like taking in information by well…looking at things.

So, having anything graphic and visual to both obtain and explain new knowledge and concepts is how you like to roll with this style.

This is typical if you’re prone to think in pictures and usually always prefer a visual expression when learning as opposed to learning through speech or listening to accents and pronunciation.

For example, you’d probably burn through a pile of flashcards faster than anyone else to increase your vocabulary. You likely also prefer reading to most other alternatives and if there are pictures to further explanation of the texts, then even better.

The Auditory

An auditory learning style, (as the word reveals), applies when you prefer listening to and hearing the sounds and pronunciation to learn a language.

If you’re someone who prefers this style then you’d probably nail an accent after just hearing it and you’d be able to understand new vocabulary better from listening to someone speak.

If this is your style you may like using music , listening to a lecture in a classroom, (without necessarily writing anything down), engaging in conversation or using audiobooks.

Pretty much anything where soaking up information works best if you lean back and focus on listening.

The Kinesthetic

This last one often refers to a more practical “hands-on” learning style. Basically, if you place learning within a physical context then you’re learning kinesthetically.

If this is your preference then you’d probably want to link a physical activity or task to whatever new language you’re learning.

For example, you might be labeling everyday items or use physical props to make a connection for using a new language.

Even exercise or an activity where you build a connection between using and learning a new language through a practical task that will help you remember later.

It could be cooking using your target language, assembling a puzzle or even using flashcards if you can physically arrange and move them around.

If you’re curious to know where you fit in each of these styles you can use this learning style checker to get an idea.

So What Are You Gonna Do About Whatever Preference You Have For Learning?

Well, there’s another side to learning styles.

Noticed how I emphasized the word ‘preference’ for each one above?

That’s because while you may prefer one of these styles over another and maybe you’re even convinced that this style always works best for you – a lot suggest that this is all just in your own head.

If you ask a psychologist, Daniel Willingham, there’s pretty much none of these single styles that are going to help you learn better or faster. It’s only about preference. If you want to dig deeper into why that is, he talks about it here.

Whether or not you believe that specific styles fit better for each individual the point seems to be that 1. You’re likely always learning with a combination of some or all of them and 2. It depends on which skill you’re learning.

One of Willingham’s examples is that if you want to learn a french accent this has to be done so auditorily. You can’t learn this by writing or reading or even seeing an image. You have to hear it.

Bien Sûr!

This goes to say, that if you want to learn how to write a new sentence in a second language it has to use some aspects of a visual element.

To get better at speaking, you must be “hands-on”.

But still, even draw on context from the physical world as well as listening and visual features.

“Wow, that’s not at all a conflict that pretty much ruins everything about my approach to learning”…or does it?

Well if we go by the idea that getting closer to fluency is constantly shifting combinations. Depending on which subskill you tackle, then that’s where a good old, (or new), language game could come in handy.

A Game of Languages

So, why use a game to improve your language? And does it even work?

For starters, there’s a whole ton of other skills and different contexts you can draw on when playing games to see any language you’re learning from a different side.

Plus, it certainly does a lot to fire up the excitement for testing out your abilities in a new language.

This means we’re in the realm of so-called ‘game-based learning’.

It’s something that has become quite popular for research and studies since now most people surround themselves with amazing technology, (like Beelinguapp).

Here’s why a game could help improve the language you work so hard to get fluent in.

In short, game-based learning is a trial and error approach to learning that uses repetition, failure, and accomplishment to drive the player(s) to the end goal.

It’s the exact opposite of your classic passive rote textbook grind, that you’ve likely experienced a lot in school.

The point is that people tend to be way more engaged when playing a game than the classic textbook scenario.

And research backs that aside from improved attention when learning this way; there are ties to real-world performance and cognitive flexibility. Meaning you get better at juggling multiple language subskills at once.

Nada mal. Pas mal du tout. Not bad.

Now, there’s obviously a lot of testing and proving to be done here but that’s neither here nor there at this point in time.

I’ve played games that taught me tons of new vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and just plain useful sentences – and so have many others.

I’d say look at language games as just one tool in your belt of, books, audiobooks, grammar lists, verbs, conjugations and all the rest.

Then use it as a fresh take on learning a new language and start with these below; (some of which you’re unlikely to find elsewhere).

Language Games for You to Bob, Twist and Pull Your Way to Fluency

These games can help you overcome boring obstacles whether it be grammar, pronunciation, repetition, or something else that got a little boring lately.

The Beelinguapp-Challenger Game.

Players required: 2+.

Language level: Beginner to advanced.

Languages to play: English, Chinese, Spanish, German, Portuguese, French, Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Arabic, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Swedish.

Language style: Auditory/visual.

How to play:

If you’ve ever used Beelinguapp you know that one of the main features is the split-screen karaoke-style reading. Keep reading if you’ve never heard of it.

The aim of the game here is to translate more and also more accurately, than your opponents.

Step 1:

Each player gets a piece of paper and a pen.

Step 2:

Pick someone as the game leader. This person will manage the app, stop/play and give points.

Then fire up Beelinguapp and pick your favorite audio story and the language you want to improve.

Download the story and get ready to start.

The whole audio is played once on the play-and-read split-screen, so everyone is warmed up to translate the story.

Then change the split-screen so you only have the selected learning language, ready to play.

Here’s an example for Spanish.

Step 3:

Now, play the first sentence once.

(Don’t worry the app highlights each paragraph. Just make sure the game leader hits pause by the end of each one.)

Step 4:

After each sentence, a timer is set for 30 seconds and every player writes down their best translation. Do this with each sentence until the story is finished.

Whoever gets the most accurate and correct translations, wins.

[Tip: If it’s a longer story pick a cutoff point in order to make each game faster. I suggest starting with a total of five or fewer sentences and then add more to increase difficulty. Alternatively, you can also increase or decrease the time you have to translate each sentence to change the difficulty].

Score system.

½ point – Each correctly translated word with minor accuracy. (Eg. if the tense or conjugation is slightly off like “human vs humans” or “broken vs broke”).

1 point – Each correctly and accurately translated word.

3 bonus points – Entire sentence correctly translated.

Most Words In [‘Target Language’]

This fun little game that takes the approach of the 80/20 rule to learning a new language.

Players required: Single or Multiple.

Language level: Beginner to advanced.

Languages to play: Any language you can find on Google by searching, “100 most common words + (target language).” Plus these I found for you already, English , Japanese, Spanish , French, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, German.

Learning style: Visual.

How to play:

This game aims to simply get as many of the 100 most commonly used words as possible.

Step 1:

Get a pen, paper, timer and a sheet over the 100 most used words in your target language, (if possible with translations).

Step 2:

Set the timer for 10 minutes and start writing down any of those words you can think of in that language.

When the time is up, you simply check the word sheet.

Score system.

1 point for each word within the top 100.

[Tip: as a bonus addition you can set a timer for creating a sentence with each word in the top 100 that you guessed, which would give an extra point. Again you can adjust difficulty or game speed, eg. by doing the top 50 and five minutes.]

Guess The Movieline

Players required: 2+.

Language level: Beginner to advanced.

Languages to play: Any language you can translate. (English is the reference language.)

Learning style: Visual.

How to play:

It’s about matching the quote to the original in English using this top 100 for reference and translation.

Step 1:

Take the top 100 movie quotes and write down the translation into the language you’re learning on pieces of paper.

You can do this by either finding a dubbed version of the movie scene or by translating using a dictionary and Google Translate.

For example, if you’re learning Spanish and want the line from Titanic, “I’m the king of the world”, you can either use the dubbed version like this one or look it up this way to get the translation, “Soy el rey del mundo.”

Double-check with a dictionary to avoid mistakes.

Step 2:

Shuffle all the movie lines into a bowl and take turns picking a random line out of the bowl. Each time the player, (or team), has 30 seconds to answer what they think the original line is.

Score system:

1 point for each correctly guessed translation.

1 bonus point for guessing the movie.

[Tip: to change difficulty, reverse the translation so you go from English to, (‘target language’), and/or adjust timer].

Language Charades/Pictionary

Players required: 4+.

Language level: Beginner to advanced.

Languages to play: Any language you can translate, same as in ‘Guess the Movieline’. (English is the reference language.)

Learning style: Kinesthetic/Visual

How to play:

These are essentially the same games only in a new language context.

Make sure you translate vocabulary in your target language so it matches your current level +/- some harder and easier ones.

In case you never played before or don’t remember how to play here are the rules, (in English), for Charades and Pictionary.

Score system.

1 point for each correctly guessed word/sentence.

-1 point for using a reference language, (your native language), during each round.

[Tip: you can match this with ‘Guess the Movieline’ above and act out/draw the movie lines for your team to guess].

6 Popular Games Morphed Into a Different Language

Here are a few honorable mentions that can easily be played using the language you’re learning for two or more players.

Last Man Standing

Describing items/things that are in your proximity. Eg. if I’m in a classroom I might say, “it’s something you write on”. Correct guess: a ‘blackboard’.

Alternatively, say what the item/thing is in your target language and have the next person guess what it is in your reference language.

If you can’t guess it you’re out/lost the round.

I’ve found this works great for road trips or a daily commute.

Scrabble

If you don’t want to order a new scrabble game just write down each letter and point value for the different languages you can find here.

Jenga

Write a word on each block that has to be translated before placing it on top. If the translation is wrong that person has to take a new block until getting a word correct.

[You can wrap each block in paper and tape it close if you don’t want to write on your Jenga blocks].

Chess

Add a verb on each square that has to be conjugated or used in a sentence each time you move to that position.

Risk and Monopoly

Go to the rules on Wikipedia and choose your language on the menu to the left.

The point here is not to play the entire game speaking in that language, [although if you’re advanced that’s a challenge], but rather practice pronouncing your basic actions within the game.

For example, if you play in Spanish and want to invade Great Britain you’ll say; “Quiero invadir, Gran Bretaña.” Also, translate the mission cards without any lifelines to a reference language as the main challenge.

The same principle is used for Monopoly.

[This is better for advanced speakers and may be limited to a few languages].


To Play or Not to Play…

Get going with Beelinguapp or turn your favorite game into a sharp and shiny language game, ready in your fluency tool belt.

Languages learning app with audiobooks and music

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