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Game Night and Language Learning

A Family That Plays Together Stays Together, says one of those quotes I found on the Web after reading about ways to enhance the parent-children relationship during teenage years. And I think it is true. When you are playing a board game with your family, you are strengthening your relationship, but also as a parent, you are promoting communication and social skills that kids cannot find in today’s screen games. Hence, parents and children get to communicate in an easy going situation.

Same thing applies to language learning.

To learn a language by playing board games is fun, cost and time effective, and hands on. Children feel motivated to win the game and since the pressure of not making mistakes is not there, it gives them the reassurance of speaking the target language more freely with no fear. So next time you ask yourself how to support your child’s language learning process, plan a a family game night!

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Life: helping children develop real coomunicative skills. By Flor García 

But what are the real benefits of playing board games for language learning?

The advantages are many, however I will enumerate the ones that I believe to be more notorious and encouraging. Feel free to make your own list of pros and comment below your ideas.

  • Board games are time effective. The language benefits we obtain for an hour of playing doesn’t compare to what is practiced in a 45 minute-lesson. Yes, in a formal classroom our kiddos learn the grammatical aspects of language learning, but it is by playing and communicating that we will reap the communicative benefits they need to speak the target language.
  • Board games are cost effective. Something many families worry about. For us, a family of five, staying home playing Risk, UNO or Scrabble is a cheap way to entertain our children without breaking the piggy bank. You just need to be creative! Also, if you are a monolingual parent helping your children to be bilingual, game night is a more cost effective way of promoting communication than hiring a native speaker to tutor your child for 30 minutes. No, it won’t substitute the advantages of communicating in a real life situation, but when money is an issue, a board game could be a great solution. Don’t forget to visit your local flea market or second hand store to find good deals.
  • Board games are fun. Do I need to say more? There are so many games to choose from, that even your most picky child will find something of his interest that would motivate him to play. Remember to involve your kiddos in the search for games. Hunting for entertaining games should be a task for the whole family.
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Our favorite way to play Scrabble: mixing three languages! By Flor García
  • Board games develop communication skills by encouraging children to use the target language in a real life easy going situation. When we play together we create a safe atmosphere where our kids feel confident enough to speak without having the duress of trying to be perfect. Children feel more at ease to talk in the target language, they laugh, they make jokes, they have fun.
  • Board games are hands-on. They are real. Nothing more exciting for children of all ages than to have their opponents right there, at home, and try to beat them. It is more fun than playing against an avatar online… we just need to give our sales pitch, take our kids away from the video game console or mobile phone and bring them to the table. I am sure they will be up to the challenge!
  • Board games are a great tool to develop other important skills. While we use board games to learn a language, the benefits of playing a game (besides language acquisition) are countless. Game night is the perfect opportunity to develop fine motor skills. By playing we also encourage our children to reason  and interact with other people, therefore also working on social and reasoning skills.

So, do I need to give you more reasons to take those dusty boxes out of the attic and get a game night planned right away?!! This is your chance to support language learning at home and build or strengthen the communication bridge between you and your children, something so much needed in today’s society. For us, game nights have been an amazing resource for learning vocabulary in German and Spanish, and additionally an exceptional way to connect with our teenage kiddos. Those minutes together mean the world to us. I assure you those minutes will mean the world to you as well.

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Quality time together: priceless! 

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