Hello there! Today, I’d like to share with you a list of games we’ve been playing and transforming for language exchange/practice purposes. It all started with some friends back then in 2014, when we were practicing languages with the simple game Hangman in both Chinese pinyin and French. And it’s now one of our monthly language exchange events in Paris, during which learners bring a board or card game to play with others.
Obviously our games list can’t be directly adapted to all languages, but with a little creativity and some brainstorming between language innovators and I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with fun and original ideas 😉
5 good games to use during language exchange
1. Petit bac
A popular game in France, discovered during my childhood in Paris. On a sheet of paper, you draw different columns and define categories, which could be for example “Country”, “Fruit”, “Sport”, or a bit more original like “City I’d like to visit”, “Occupation I’d rather avoid”, “Disgusting food” (which reflects much more the mentality of our language exchange group in Paris!).
Someone picks a letter randomly and you have to fill up all categories with a word starting with that letter. You set a timer or everyone stops as soon as someone successfully filled up all the categories and yells “Stop!”. For each unique answer you get two points, and only one if at least one other person answered the same. And the winner is the one with most points obviously 😉
How we play it? We play in teams and fill each category in two languages (our native and target one).
2. Cards against humanity
An American game in which you complete fill-in-the-blank statements using words or phrases politically incorrect. One person draw and read a question card, the other players choose among their answers what they think is the funniest one. Laughter guaranteed.
How we play it? We printed out the cards in different languages and for each question (the one who asks chooses any language), you pick your favorite answer in each language. You can find the printable cards online here.
3. Scrabble cards
We all know Scrabble, but not everybody knows Scrabble cards. The principle is almost the same, since the goal is to create words with the cards in your hand. But, you have a “Rule card” forcing you to create verbs only (conjugated), 4-letter words, words including a specific letter.
How we play it? In teams and by target language. One player has 7 cards, members of the same team can help each others and exchange cards, and each team is creating words in their target language only!
4. Story cubes
Pretty simple concept, but highly efficient to practice languages. The principle is to roll dice with different objects on each face, and to invent and create a story altogether starting by “Once upon a time” and with the objects you see.
How we play it? We simply switch languages between stories 🙂
5. Say anything
Inspired by the one from “North Star Games”, one gets to ask any question that starts with “In my opinion, …” and the other players have to write down what they think is the right answer. Players reveal their answer, choose which one is the best (the player who wrote it get one point), and finally the one who asked the question chooses the one closest to what he thinks. It’s a good game to get to know each other better, therefore good for language exchange.
How we play it? We write answers in different languages, it could be our native one or our target one.
Since we couldn’t name them all, other games we fancy playing: Taboo, Dixit, Sandwich, Pantomine, Cardline Globetrotter, Tic Tac Boom, etc.