Teaching Materials Series: Board Games

We love a board game at Struck Fluent. We all learn better when we’re enjoying ourselves and applying language in context, and board games are a great way to tick both these boxes. They’re enjoyed by adults and Young Learners alike, and can be adapted for all levels and to suit a whole range of learning objectives. Beginners reinforce numbers by rolling the dice and counting the spaces they move, and everyone gets to reinforce functional language such as checking and clarifying (‘is it my go?’) and requesting things (‘could you pass me the dice?’).

Here’s our pick of the crop:

Guess Who:

This is a Struck Fluent staple and is fantastic for practicing describing people in any language. For ESL learners, it also helps to practice English names and to reinforce gender pronouns (he/she): Chinese, for example, does not distinguish between ‘he’ and ‘she’ in the spoken form so many of our Chinese ESL students struggle to remember this in English, even at quite a high level.

Monopoly:

monopoly german

A brilliant choice for higher-level students and a chance to get super-competitive! Monopoly is great for introducing more advanced financial vocabulary, and I usually play entirely in the target language so players get the chance to interact in a ‘real’ but relaxed situation which usually boosts confidence. I also like to adapt the game to use local currency in order to reinforce larger numbers.

Snakes and Ladders

serpentes

A fab option for beginners, Snakes and Ladders allows learners to practice basic numbers and functional language such as ‘my turn’/’your turn’; ‘go up (the ladder)’/’go down (the snake)’. The version shown also has a verb on each square: to revise the verbs they’ve learnt, players have to make a sentence using the verbs when they land on each space.

Make your own!

I often make my own board games, and love to include features like question cards and tasks (making objects from plasticine, for example, or miming an action). I also like to include ‘go back’ and ‘go forward’ squares as a way of introducing this kind of useful vocabulary.

One of my favourite things to do though, is to get my students to make and play their own board games based on the topic we’re currently working on: they start by devising the rules, practicing instruction-giving language along the way, then move on to discussing and designing the board – all in the target language. Finally, they play the game together, reinforcing the original topic plus a lot of extras!

Lucy McCormick is Head of Client Services at Struck Fluent, a community of tutors specialising in Modern Foreign Languages and ESL. She has extensive experience as a teacher and tutor of French and ESL in the UK, China, Korea, Vietnam and India. When not teaching or language geeking, you can generally find her in the company of a book, a gin or (preferably) both.

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