Playing games isn’t just for kids. When learning a foreign language, playing games can be a fun and interactive way to review new vocabulary, common phrases and even grammar concepts. In this article, you will find a variety of high quality games and learning tools available online to assist with Spanish. These include games for all age groups, from young child to adult, so you can get the whole family involved! So put away those boring and repetitive worksheets and flashcards and start playing.
Mi Mundo en Palabras, or My Life in Words, is interactive, online material created by the Instituto Cervantes, a public institution in Spain that focuses solely on the teaching, learning and preservation of the Spanish language. Children follow the life of a young boy named Carlos, where they must complete a series of activities based on realistic life situations. Learners listen to vocabulary words or expressions and are asked to choose a photo that depicts what they’re listening to in a variety of formats. Activities are based on vocabulary topics such as, the house, family, school, the park, field trips to the farm and to the zoo, birthday parties and much more. For each lesson topic there are entertaining games like bingo as well as a written format section which can be printed out and completed. Further, the mochila de palabras, or backpack of words specifically reviews vocabulary terms from that lesson in a more direct way.
Although Mi Mundo en Palabras was designed for children ages 7-9 who have just started learning Spanish, it is realistic enough for teenagers and young adults. The activities are listening focussed rather than grammar focused and thus make it an excellent listening comprehension tool for all ages.
Founded almost 25 years ago, PBS Kids is one of the most respected and trustworthy institutions for teaching young children in America. PBS Kids recently stepped up its game by launching a fully bilingual learning tool following the beloved character Curious George, or Jorge El Curioso, through his “busy day.” In both English and Spanish, children from preschool to 1st grade can play sixteen different interactive, high quality games. The games focus on core number skills, such as matching numbers with their spoken name, representing quantities, counting, estimating, basic addition and subtraction and much more. These topics are creatively intertwined with important vocabulary words such as animals, food and common household objects. Upon completing a learning game, children receive new pages in their online sticker books which reinforces the new vocabulary words they have learned.
The PBS Kids Jorge El Curioso series is an excellent, free online tool for parents looking to incorporate Spanish into their children’s vocabulary at an early age. The special design of the games encourage children to develop their own strategies to solve each game. In this way, children develop more practical, working knowledge of Spanish rather than simply learning vocabulary.
As a music based Spanish learning resource, Rockalingua is a fantastic material to supplement Spanish classes for children ages 8 and up. The website content covers an array of topics including: animals, school, the house, feelings, colors, Spanish-speaking countries, likes and dislikes, numbers, cleaning, family, food, recipes and so much more. Each topic has a variety of resources including a video comic, song, printable picture dictionary and worksheets as well as interactive games. By presenting the material in different formats, Rockalingua seamlessly integrates the four basic skills of communication - listening, speaking, reading and writing - and promotes constant repetition.
Mixing cartoons with music makes Rockalingua an engaging and effective learning tool for the whole family. Although Rockalingua has a variety of free content, the website does charge yearly membership fees in order to gain access to all of their content ($49 - limited subscription, $79 - family subscription, $159 - teacher subscription).
With ten years under it’s belt, Quizlet is the go-to study tool for thousands of people studying Spanish and other foreign languages. Their website and free app allows you to design customizable flashcards on any subject. Once you have entered the content, you are able to review it through six different study modes which appeal to different learning styles. These six modes include: 1.) flashcard mode is the traditional method of flipping through cards with the word on one side and then it’s translation on the other, 2.) learn mode gives you a word in English and you must translate it into Spanish, 3.) spell mode gives you a word in Spanish and you must write it in Spanish, 4.) test mode gives you 20 questions with all styles of questions - written, matching, multiple choice, and true/false, 5.) match mode is a game of matching English terms with Spanish terms, 6.) gravity mode is a game of speed translating.
Quizlet is a fantastic tool for learning Spanish as it allows you to go at your own pace and focus on vocabulary that you struggle with the most. Learners can create personalized vocabulary sets or search for vocabulary sets made about the same topic and copy them into their account. Quizlet is suitable for grade school children to adults which makes it a versatile tool for many age groups.
Arguably one of the most popular language learning apps out there, Duolingo has helped millions of people all over the world improve in 11 languages. This free app has gained so much popularity because it is simple and straightforward to use. There are 25 levels in Duolingo for you to work through. Each offers simple modules in which you rotate through a variety of activities. These activities include transcribing spoken text, translating written and spoken speech into English, identifying the meaning of a vocabulary word in English as well as repeating/translating spoken and written text into a microphone. As you complete the different skills you unlock more modules. Duolingo is grammar focused, and thus you learn more advanced grammar topics as you increase in level which does make it more suitable for teenagers and adults. However, the exercises are designed with a more deductive style in which you are prompted to notice patterns rather than receive direct grammar instruction.
Duolingo helps you reach your language goals by offering “goal setting” features and also pinpoints your weaker skills. The variety of exercises and ease of use makes Duolingo the perfect addition to your language learning.
Whether you’re looking for Spanish-resources for yourself, your children or the whole family, these five high-quality online learning tools would all be great additions to your Spanish-resource box!
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