Are you and your Spanish students ready for a change? Use board games like Scrabble and Scattergories to jazz up your lesson plan.
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Playing Spanish board games is a reward for both you and your students. Whether you incorporate games into your lesson plans once a week, twice a month, or as part of a celebration at the end of the semester, they make a fun, low-pressure way of reinforcing vocabulary and stimulating creativity at any level of language learning.
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There’s no Spanish board game better suited to developing--or exploiting--word fanaticism than Scrabble. Playing Scrabble in Spanish will encourage your students to sharpen their own vocabulary and conjugation skills while also learning from the words other players put down.
If you’ve ever tried to play Scrabble in Spanish with the English-language set of tiles, you know it’s a real burden: There are no “CH", “LL",“RR" or “¨Ñ" tiles, and those pesky “K" and “W" tiles just keep cropping up. Fortunately there’s a Scrabble edición en español, complete with language-appropriate tiles and new point values, too.
The bad news is that there is no official Scrabble dictionary in Spanish. For the most authoritative help in keeping things proper, you can refer to the Real Academia Española website for an online dictionary, or purchase a print version of their dictionary.
If your students aren’t quite up to speed for a full-fledged, fight-it-out-over-the-dictionary game of Scrabble en español, try the following modifications:
Play in both Spanish and English, awarding double points for words in Spanish
Use only the infinitive form of Spanish verbs
Give them a list of vocabulary words to choose from, but award points only if they can offer the correct translation of each word played, or use the word in a full, appropriate Spanish sentence.
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Scattergories is a quick-moving word game--and it qualifies as a “board game" thanks to the small “board" each player receives to use as a writing surface. Each player also gets a sheet of paper with three columns and twelve categories. One player rolls the 20-sided die to select a letter, another player starts the timer, and everyone has a total of three minutes to come up with a word for each of the twelve categories that also starts with the letter on the die.
Play continues for a total of three rounds, with a new letter selected for each round. Players score one point for each answer given that isn’t matched by anyone else. So if, for example, the die came up as “R" and the category is “types of flowers", if two players give the answer “Rose" they’ll cancel each other out and neither gets a point. But if the third player replied “Rhododendron" and nobody else canceled him out by having the same answer, he gets a point.
As with Scrabble, arguments about whether a word is appropriate for use in a given Scattergories category can be heated--and very entertaining. Unlike Scrabble there’s no Spanish-language version of Scattergories, but the English version can be very easily adapted to Spanish; just create your own sheets to fill in, with categories in Spanish.
If you don’t feel your students have enough of a vocabulary to play on their own just yet, give them a list of Spanish-language vocabulary words to choose from. The catch: In order to score a point for an un-matched word, they have to provide its English translation. You could also play in English, but make students provide the Spanish translation of each English word before they claim a point. For a list of other readily available Spanish board games, click here.
Play Your Way Into a New Language: Spanish Board Games and Other Tricks
Games help keep young students and adult learners engaged and interested. This series looks at Spanish board games, word games, chalkboard games, and other fun activities to include in your lesson plans.