Getting a handle on foreign languages is a challenge — regardless of one’s age. While a case can be made that the only way to improve is through reading, writing, speaking and repetition, turning the subject into a game is always wise to engage youngsters. Below are suggestions for molding your foreign language routine into an exciting escapade!

NEED FOR SPEED GAME: This method uses the “speed dating” theme to get students acquainted with one-another fast, but there’s a twist — it must be done in the new language of study! Aid the class in preparing several sentences describing themselves before re-arranging the classroom in rows of desks facing each other — roughly four pairs to a row. The students in “outside” facing seats will be labeled “rovers,” meaning they will do the story telling for each pair. After three minutes, all rovers should scoot over to the next set of desks. This process will go on until the rovers have made it all the way back to their original seats. The stationary students will then explain what they learned about each rover. Have the class swap roles and play again!

LEXICON PIRATES GAME: Arrange student desks so that rows of four face the middle in a circular pattern — similar to how kids draw rays of sunshine. Teams of four will each represent a pirate ship crew — so make sure they all select ship names and label the first desk with a piece of tape. Now the game can begin!  The teacher will announce a ship’s name and assign a category such as “food.” Each team member will then say the name of one food item in the assigned language. Other teams must beware; if the final person in a team’s row, known as the “gunner,” successfully names a food item, then they win the right to fire a cannonball towards another ship! When this happens, the team receiving the cannonball must perform the same routine successfully. If any team members fail, then the entire ship is sunk and each drifting pirate will be scooped up by a rival ship! The strategy is to stock up on vocabulary words before the game in order to remain afloat.