Board Games That Promote Chinese Language Learning

Do you use board games to boost Chinese language learning?  You can prepare in advance and introduce the key words to your child first at the beginning of the week then play the game on the weekend.

When I teach Chinese to young children I use the Montessori approach.  The simple steps are introduction, recognition and recall.  There is a lot of Chinese  language repetition and input in this process and it helps the children to be familiar with the new words and sentences for the day or for the week.  Board Games can be incorporate into the learning and make the learning exciting for the kids.

We have a family game night and it is one of my kids’ favorite activities.  They decorate the dining room, design tickets for sell, and pick the board games that we can play as a family.  They also pop popcorn and sell them.  We are playing all the games in Chinese with English support if needed.  There are many board games you can use to play in Chinese.  Playing board games or card games is fun and it encourages kids to use Chinese in a relaxing setting.  Here is a list of my favorite board games that you can play in Chinese or in any other languages.

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Spot it! is an exciting game for kids.  It has a total of 55 cards and there are five games you can play with.  There is only one image on every card that will match with only one image on any other card in the deck.  Prepare visual flyers for each image in Chinese, pinyin and English and post them on the wall.  Players can refer to the word wall while playing.  Go slow at first and then gradually speed up.  Have your sharp eye ready!

Candyland in Chinese?  Yes!  I use the original English version but it works well in Chinese.  The prep is minimal and it is a good day to practice direction words, like go forward, go back,  move to…  At the end of the game on the board you can place all sorts of candy or treats to boost the fun.  We enjoy this game and at one point I had request to play Chinese Candyland every night!  Prepare direction words in Chinese and post them up for reinforcement and reference.

Rory’s Story Cubes are a fantastic story generator and a great way to get the kids use what they know in Chinese to make up a “mini” story sentence.  Roll three dice and tell a sentence or a story.  It is a game with imagination.  It is also a game encourage listening and verbal skills for kids.  Rory’s story cubes has two more sets in addition to this original one and you can mix it up as you go along.  Kids of all ages can play.

Jenga, the classic game can be played using Chinese and it will give you a whole new experience with your child.  List of Chinese words, phrases, and sentences to use during the games are “be a careful,”  “watch out,” “pull one out,” “this side,” “the other side, ” “how about…,”  “it might fall.” “this is dangerous.”…  You can always add more to the word list or word wall as you go.  This is a lot of fun when you play classic games and board games in Chinese with your child.  Another thing you can try is to write Chinese characters or words on a few Jenga blocks with Chinese on one side, pinyin on one side, and English translation on one side.  Use them as Chinese word blocks is another learning element you can add to the game.

Blokus is a strategy game that encourages creative thinking.  There is a junior version that works better with younger kids.  Play Blokus using Mandarin Chinese on game night with your child.  Word signs are always welcome and you can prepare the Chinese word signs and get the kids excited about the upcoming game night.  Chinese words, phrases, and sentences can be included for the visual tool are “colors,” “numbers,” “turn the piece left/right, “place it here, ” “place it in another place,” “how about…”  When kids are engaged in the game the Chinese (target) language becomes a part of it.

Sequence for Kids is an easy board game for young Chinese language learners.  The cute animals on the board are fun and the toked placed on the board keep the children excited and thinking about what card they will get next.  Prepare word wall with the matching words on the cards – animal words.  With the special cards in the deck, you can add “surprise!” “bonus card” “lucky you” “super” “great” “oh no”…  to the word list to use.  This is one of the most popular board games with my young students and they request it a lot.

Blink is a game that your kids will enjoy with their proud smile when they finish it in lightening speed or when they leave you in the dust.  Play Blink in Chinese and sharpen the skills of words they have acquired in Chinese such as color words, shapes, words, and numbers.  Sometime I get “stuck” during the game and the kids just laugh and laugh and keep going.  This is a fun game to play in Chinese with kids of ages 5 and up.

Mastermind is another strategy game to play in Chinese.  It is a board game of logic and deduction for children and the whole family.  You will include words, phrases, and sentences like: “What do you think?” “Is it possible to be a (red) one? ” “You might need a different color.”…  Have a the word, sentence signs up on the wall for reference is a good strategy to have a text-rich home.

GO! is a game invented in China and this is a game that can be complicated.  However, it can be played in a light and easy style as well – It is called “Five Pieces Go” and you win when you have five pieces of the same color pieces in a row.  You can keep going with the 5-in-a-row Go until you fill up the board.  Play GO! in Chinese and use the question words.

Suspense Family Game is exciting when you have a group of kids playing together.  Chinese sentences to use: “Where are you gong to play the stick?”  “How about here?”  “You need to balance?”…   I will see Chinese popping out from the kids when they play the game in teams.

Zingo is a game that you can play in Chinese with its original English set.  What you do is to say everything in Chinese when you see the tile you need.  There are over 30 words in the set and you can prepare the Chinese list to support the game.  It is a BINGO game in Zingo style and kids young and old can enjoy.

Do you already have some of the board games at home?  What are your favorite board games to play in Chinese?  Share your recommendation with us!

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