English is a complicated language and learning it can be extremely hard. In fact, due to its quirks and oddities, English is one of the hardest languages on the planet to learn as a second language. There are so many broken rules, subtle differences, and strange structures that make the English language taxing. Learning the language as a whole requires patience, practice, and plenty of time.
But, you can speed up your English learning and practice by playing word-based games. Learning is improved when having fun. When we have a positive association with learning we tend to absorb information better, leading to better uptake of the language. Below, we have a list of seven great games which we – and experts in language and teaching – believe can help you improve your English language learning. Some you will have heard of while some may be new to you, but they can all help your English progression and are all worth giving a try.
Scrabble is one of the most popular American / English board games ever. Since its invention in 1948, it has sold millions of copies and is now sold in over 120 countries around the world. It is sold in many languages but, of course, we’re here to discuss the English version. Scrabble isn’t going to help you learn full sentences or write paragraphs, but it will certainly help you start to recognize English words and the patterns within them better.
In the game, you draw a selection of letters from a bag, all of which are assigned a different value. The aim of the game is to unscramble letters and place them down on the board to create scoring words. Less frequently found letters such as K, X, and Z have high scores, while frequently used letters such as E and A have much lower scores. Spotting a word within your letters or a way to create a word on the board whilst using these higher scoring letters will help you win and help you learn new English words.
Pictionary is another classic board game having been invented in 1985. It was inspired by Charades, another game on our list, but added a graphical or drawing element to the game. For Pictionary, you need two or more teams of two people. In each team, someone will be the drawer and someone will be the guesser.
The aim of the game is to accurately guess what the partner who is drawing has drawn, without seeing the words. You will roll a dice to determine which category of the word you – or your teammate – have to draw from. Then, you will be given 60 seconds to correctly guess what is being drawn. Whoever is drawing is not able to speak, mime, or write down words or numbers as part of their image. Correctly guessed drawings mean you can roll again for another turn. This kind of game means you are thinking about English words for things, as well as assigning them to imagery, thus helping you remember them better. A great game for learning a language.
As we said, the Pictionary was inspired by Charades, with Charades having been around much longer – since the mid-18th century, in one form or another. The aim of the game is similar to that of Pictionary’s but without any drawings. Instead, someone from your team draws a category card and picks something to act out. They must then, usually within a certain timeframe, act out each syllable or word from a phrase, name, place, film, or another category. This means lots of guessing what certain movements mean, breaking words and phrases down into single syllables, and lots of shouting in English! This game would work well for someone with a medium level of English language skill, rather than a beginner.
Hangman is a simple guessing game using pen and paper. It involves guessing a word or phrase based on the number of blank spaces shown to you. Meanwhile, the person who set the word will be drawing an image – usually that of a hanged man – one line at a time to create a certain amount of turns. You must guess all the letters correctly before the final image is drawn. Each incorrect letter is written under the game so you do not repeatedly guess the same letters. This is a fun way to try and learn or notice patterns in English words.
Last Man Standing
Last man standing is another nice and simple game to be played in a group. For this game, you’ll probably need someone slightly more experienced in English – like a teacher – to lead. They should start proceedings by choosing a category, like food, for example. You will then go around the group in a certain order and each person must name a food in English. If, on your turn, you cannot think of a word, you must sit down. The last person standing, who will have answered the most correct words, is the winner.
Crosswords are great little word games to help cement spelling and definitions of words into your mind. You will be given assorted rows and columns of empty squares, needing to fill them in with the correct letters to complete the game. Each row or column will have a corresponding clue or word definition to help you fill the blanks. A perfect way to get to know more English words.
Boggle / Word Searches
Finally, the humble word search. Like crosswords, they will have clues but this time you have to find the words in an already assembled board of letters. For a more fun version, try the game boggle, where you play with a physical letter-sided die. These are shuffled or scrambled leaving you with a random selection of letters each round to find words in. Again, perfect for helping spot common spelling and patterns within English words.
Having fun with languages helps with learning and these games are certainly fun. Ideally, play these games with someone willing to help teach you English or a group of people learning English like yourself. Every word, spelling, pattern, or phrase will certainly stick more having learned it in a game. Enjoy!