Updated: Nov 8
What better way to continue our theme of just relaxing and enjoying the holiday season than with family games? I don't know about you, but my family LOVES to play games! We don't always agree on what kind of game (board game, card game, traditional, modern, etc.), but when we do find a game that works for all of us, we play it all the time! So gather your loved ones around and begin incorporating Spanish into your playtime. After all, language learning is hard work, but it should be fun! :)
A Note on My Affiliate Disclosure Policy
This section includes affiliate links to Amazon. In essence, at no extra charge to you, I receive a small commission if you choose to purchase the product using my link. I used to only recommend products this way that I had bought and used myself and that I found useful, but then realized that there are a lot of products I have used, but not yet purchased (such as the below game of Scrabble). While I have not prioritized purchasing them for my own life, I would still highly recommend them for others who might be interested in using them now. So I have updated my policy (click here) to only promote items via affiliate links if I have used them and found them useful. Thus I haven't necessarily bought all of the games we'll be talking about in this episode, but I have played every single one and think they are awesome for this, with the exception of Story Cubes. You'll notice that there is no affiliate link for Story Cubes, because I can't personally attest to how awesome this game is or not, as I haven't played it myself. I've just heard other language learners recommend them, so I figured I'd include them in the list.
Fun Family Games You Can Practice Your Spanish With!
For this episode, I tried to focus on games that most people might have just lying around their home. You'll notice that many of these are word-based games. This is because I have a lot of friends and family who own at least one of these games. If you have a different experience, and can recommend other games to help practice Spanish, please send me an email! Obviously, this list is not all-encompassing; it's just 4 games! There are many, many more games that we could discuss to help you practice your Spanish. Who knows? Maybe I'll do another episode on this topic; we'll see how much you guys like this episode! :)
How to Play: Uno is really simple, and really quick (generally). You start the game with so many cards in your hand, and the goal of the game is to get rid of them. You do this by matching the card in your hand to the one in the discard pile either by having the same number, the same color, or a wild card. When you get down to one card, be sure to say "Uno!" If you manage to get rid of that, you win!
Spanish Practice: I suppose this one is pretty obvious, but it is very easy to use UNO to practice Spanish! In fact, it's a really good game to begin teaching Spanish to little kids. The colors and the symbols mean kids can play it from a pretty early age, and they don't have to know all of the Spanish lingo to be able to play it! (I'd say beginning around 3, keeping in mind that the manufacturer says it's for 7+, but I have seen a 3 or 4 year old play it. As soon as they can differentiate colors and that you put cards down based on if they match a number or color, I would say that they can play. With the disclaimer that letting kids that young play does run the risk of them damaging your cards, so do so at your own risk! ^_~ ) The only thing you really have to read in UNO are numbers and signs, which you can easily translate into Spanish for yourself or for the little ones (or even for other beginning Spanish-speaking adults you might be playing with!) And to help you out, here are some key Spanish terms and phrases for the game. (I have put in parenthesis other terms I've seen, but otherwise the card titles were pulled from a PDF I found of the rules in English and Spanish. I know it depends on where you are from; the card titles might vary. So I've tried to include different versions as well.):
Roba 2 (Chúpate 2 or Toma 2)
Carta Reversa (Carta de Retorno, Dar la Vuelta or Retorno / Invertir el Orden)
Carta Salta (Carta de Intermisión, Prohibido or Saltar)
Comodín de Color (Elección de Colores, Comodín or Cambio de Color)
Wild Draw 4
Carta Comodín Roba 4 (Tomar 4 Colores or Chúpate 4)
Skip a Turn
Perder tu Turno
Draw a Card
Robar una Carta or Tomar una Carta
Toca a Ti or Tu Turno
La Pila para Robar (El Mazo)
La Pila para Descartar (El Mazo de Descartes)
How to Play: This is a word game where you have a bunch of lists with different categories on them (for example, list 1 might have categories like Boy Names, Capital Cities, Super Heroes, etc.). At the beginning of each round, you start with a brand new list and a random letter. You then have to use this letter to answer each category on the list (using our previous example, this would look like: Ned, New Delhi, Nightwing, etc.). If you or someone else comes up with the same answer, you don't get any points!
Spanish Practice: Some friends introduced me to this game in college, and I've loved it ever since! It was a big hit with my immediate family, with my mom being especially good at it (I've seen her complete her list, then go around the table and help at least 2 others before the time ran out!). There are two ways you could play this game to practice your Spanish: 1) You can use the English lists, but only give responses in Spanish, or 2) You can write out Spanish categories / lists beforehand and do everything in Spanish.
While this game can be challenging in English, I imagine it is even more so in Spanish. So here is a site I just found that can help you in both languages in coming up with answers. Just don't use it while you're playing, as that's cheating! And no one likes playing with a cheater! ;) Wait until the end to get some ideas for the next game.
If that's too much temptation for you, here are the Spanish lists, as well as several other ideas for categories in English (just in case you play so much that you get bored with the original ones!). :)
How to Play: You have lettered tiles that have different values on them. The rarer the letter is in English, the higher the point value for playing it. The goal is to place your tiles on the board and create words that get you the most points.
Spanish Practice: Who hasn't spent a few hours carefully looking over a Scrabble board? It's a great way to build up your vocabulary (I recommend using the official online Meriam-Webster Scrabble Dictionary to resolve any disputes!). So why not give your brain a challenge and do it in Spanish? (Here is another dispute-resolution resource, but in Spanish, of course! ^_~ )
While you can purchase multiple different versions of Scrabble in Spanish (at least, according to Wikipedia), the point of this article was to help you play games in Spanish that you already have at home. I recommend trying to emulate the Latin American version of the game. It has 108 tiles, and the only differences between it and the English version are that it has 4 CH tiles, 3 LL tiles, 3 Ñ tiles, and no W tiles. So in theory, if you use one of your blank tiles and temporarily make it and all of your W tiles the Ñ tiles, I think you could get away with missing the other 7. And if you happen to have 7 extra tiles hanging around, you could just commandeer them into being CH and LL tiles, too. :)
If you really love Scrabble, though, and want to get the tiles you need, use the Wikipedia letter distributions for the Spanish version you want, and then purchase those tiles from a place like Etsy where you can customize them rather than buying a bulk order of English tiles. :)
4. Story Cubes
Now, I have never purchased or played these, so I can't say from experience if they are any good (and also, as I said earlier, I will not be posting any affiliate links, just a link to a search on Amazon so you can see what I'm talking about). But I have heard of them from other language users recommending them, and in theory I think they sound great! I'm hoping to buy some for my kids when they are older so that I can get them to practice their language skills. But basically you roll the cubes and use the icons on them to create stories. Telling stories is a wonderful past time, and a great way to practice all sorts of Spanish vocabulary, grammar, different tenses, etc.
Remember, learning a language is a lifelong journey.
¡Aprovéchalo, Disfrútalo y Compártelo!
Since Thanksgiving is this week, I thought I would share some Thanksgiving songs with you! Here in the US, we have a bad habit of skipping over Thanksgiving and beginning to decorate for Christmas, listening to Christmas music, etc. in early November. You know who you are. :D So, to help combat this "monstrosity" :D, here are some Thanksgiving songs you can play until after the 25th! And then you can switch to Christmas music. ^_~ I did try to find some songs in Spanish, but the ones I found were really, really cheesy and aimed at kids, and I don't plan on listening to them again, so I didn't feel right putting them here.
Anyway, here is one by Matthew West. It is just too funny not to share!
This one is very sweet.
Here's a country music style version of the song. :D
And, most importantly, giving thanks to God for the good things in our lives. It's really what the day is all about.
This one is kind of adorable. :)
Now you have no excuse not to listen to music on Thanksgiving Day! :D (I'm really not that much of a stickler...although we really do not play Christmas music in our house until after Thanksgiving. :D)
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, if you are celebrating here in the U.S.! And if you're not, why not join us anyway? There's cranberry relish, pumpkin pie - one of my favorites, along with sweet potato casserole! MMMM! So good! Now I'm all psyched for Thursday! :)
[One final note: If you are wishing for some Fall vocabulary, seeing as how we just finished Halloween and are on our way to Thanksgiving, check out Episode 19: Fall Vocabulary. It is one of my older ones, and so you can see the PowerPoint on YouTube as well.]
One of the things I really do appreciate are my listeners/readers. Thank you all soo much! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! <3
© 2021 by Language Answers, LLC
Intro and Closing Music by Master_Service from Fiverr
"2L ENGLISH, LAAM (SPANISH) INSTRUCTIONS" PDF for UNO game by Mattel
"UNO - Reglas oficiales del juego de cartas" by Uno-Juego
"Cómo jugar a Uno" by QuiQue for El Juego de Mesa
"Cómo se juega al uno: las reglas del juego para principiantes" by Ada Funes for El Español, November 10, 2019
"UNO Cards" y Lets Play Uno, December 29, 2017
"Categorías de Scattergories" by Jugar Scattergories
"Scattergories Listas" uploaded by gerardofdes to IDOC.pub in November 2019
"Scattergories: Rules, Variations + HUGE Category Lists" by Susan Box Mann for Icebreaker Ideas, April 9, 2019
"Scrabble WordFinder" by Merriam-Webster, official online Scrabble Dictionary
"Scrabble Buscador Palabra" by WordFind.com
"Scrabble letter distributions" by Wikipedia
[Affiliate links to Amazon: --Mattel Games UNO Card Game Customizable with Wild Cards --Scattergories Game --Scrabble A8166 Classic Scrabble]
"Matthew West - Gobble Gobble (Official Music Video)" by Matthew West, the song premiered on YouTube November 13, 2020
"Ben Rector - The Thanksgiving Song (Official Video)" by Ben Rector, uploadewd to YouTube October 28, 2020
"The Thanksgiving Song - The Petersens (LIVE)" by The Petersens, uploaded to YouTube November 12, 2021
"Thanksgiving Medley" by Saddleback Worship, uploaded to YouTube November 24, 2020
"Thankful (children's Thanksgiving song by Shawna Belt Edwards)" by Shawna Edwards, uploaded to YouTube October 21, 2017