How are you holding up during the coronavirus pandemic? Are you taking it all in your stride or climbing the walls?
And how are your children coping?
Whether you’re in the midst of a lockdown or a full-blow quarantine, chances are you could do with a little light relief. That’s the purpose of our post today – we’ve rounded up some fun language games that the whole family can play.
These are fun family games to make you laugh and help you bond. They’re a chance to step away from your phone and enjoy spending time engaging in non-screen activities together.
They can all be played indoors, so if the weather is keeping you out of your garden, or you’re cooped up together in a flat, pick something from our indoor family activity list. Our language games will distract you from the outside world for a short while and create a safe space where a kid can be a kid. Plus they’ll help your little ones keep their language skills fresh!
To get your kids excited from the outset, why not put the names of all 15 language games into a hat and let your little ones take turns to choose? You could also have rewards ready as prizes for the winner of each game, as well as treats for everyone simply for taking part.
Ready? Then let’s get started!
1. Truth or Lie
How well do your family know each other? With Truth or Lie, you can test that knowledge while also helping your children to brush up on their language skills.
The concept is simple. Write down two statements about yourself on a piece of paper and get each family member to do the same. The statements should be in the language you’re learning. One should be true, the other false.
After you’ve read out your statements, the other family members can question you (in whichever language they prefer) to try and glean the truth of the matter. If you trick them into believing the lie, you win. If they uncover the truth, they win. Keep score to find out who the overall winner is.
This is best played with children who can write well enough in their second language to form sentences. However, if you’re after a language game for pre-schoolers, play this one in their native language but use the words ‘truth’ and ‘lie’ in the language you want them to learn – and keep the statements simple!
2. Animal Charades
Charades is always a fun family activity and this version is so simple that even toddlers can join in.
Forget the whole book/film/TV show concept – this language games for toddlers is focused purely on animals. Family members to take it in turns to act out an animal, without speaking or making any animal sounds. The other family members have to guess which animal – but in their second language.
Language games like this are ideal for dull moments. The concept is simplicity itself and the game requires absolutely no setup – you can entertain bored youngsters at a moment’s notice!
3. Double Treasure Hunt
If your children are bored of sitting around, this is a great activity for kids that will get them up and moving.
To prep for this game, write names of everyday objects that you have in your home on numerous pieces of paper – in the language that you’re helping your little ones to learn. Next, hide the pieces of paper around the room/entire house (depending on the age and attention span of your kids!).
While you’re hiding the papers, why not distract your children by getting them to dress up as detectives or pirates, ready to hunt down the treasure?
Next, let the hunt begin! This linguistic game can go on for a set amount of time or until they’ve found all the papers – again, it’s up to you to judge their abilities/engagement level.
Once they’ve found all the papers (or their allotted time is up), it’s time for them to open them up read them. That’s when the second part of the treasure hunt begins – they need to find one of each object named (in the second language) on the paper and put it in their treasure bucket. Use a timer for this part to get them using up some energy!
The winner is whoever finds the most ‘treasure.’ Have a bonus prize ready for the person who can put all their objects away the fastest at the end of the game too, so you don’t have to tidy it all up!
Already chock-full of info today? Perhaps you can make a little more room for this video instead!
4. Crystal Ball
The next of our fun language games is one of the Google Home games. If you have Google Home, check out Crystal Ball. The idea is that you ask the Crystal Ball questions about the future and it gives you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses.
You can turn this into a fun activity for kids who are learning a language by getting them to write questions in that language first. Swap around the written questions. That way, each of you has to translate a question that another family member has written into English in order to ask the Crystal Ball the question.
5. Noun Descriptions
If you’re looking for a linguistic game for older children, prepare a bunch of post-it notes with a noun on each (in the language being learned). Stick a post-it note on the wall behind the first player, so that the player has their back to it. Another player then has to describe the word to them so that they can guess it.
You can vary the game by setting timers, including themes and even swapping out nouns for verbs.
6. Lucky Dip
This is one of those really fun activities for kids that can get them moving to burn off some energy, as well as bolstering their language skills. If you’re stuck working from home while also educating you children, this is an ideal choice (you can click the link below for more work from home tips while under quarantine). It’s also one of the best family games for having fun together, as every gets involved.
All you need to do is write random activities in the language the children are learning on pieces of paper and then put them into a hat. Family members take it in turns to choose an activity, then everyone has to do it. You can be as creative as you like with the activities. Fancy doing star jumps or playing leap frog? Just write them on the pieces of paper.
You could also let the children write their own activities for inclusion in the game – provided they write in the language being studied.
Read more: Coronavirus: 20 Work from Home Tips During the Quarantine
7. Descriptive Drawing
If your children are old enough to have developed competent language skills, this is one of those language games that has the potential to get them giggling.
Give each child a pile of picture cards and don’t let the other see. The first child looks at their card and describes what they see in the relevant language. The second child draws what the first child is describing.
You definitely don’t need to be an accomplished artist to enjoy these kinds of language games. In fact, the worse your drawing skills are, the funnier the game can be!
8. Second Language Mad Libs
Have you played Mab Libs before? If not, it’s well worth a try when you’re stuck indoors with the family. It could well become one of those fun family games that becomes a staple for rainy days and family visits.
For second language Mad Libs, you need to write short stories (in the second language, obviously!) with blanks in place of certain key words. Players then have to contribute words for the blanks, but without seeing the context – instead, their only guidance is whether they need to provide a noun, verb, adjective, etc. Cue fun for the whole family.
9. Google Home Name Game
Do you enjoy rhyming games? If so, Google Home’s Name Game is an excellent option, particularly if you’re looking for fun family activities that help your little ones learn a second language.
The game is simplicity itself, so even young children can play. To get started, all you do is say, “OK, Google, play the name game with [name]” and then come up with rhymes for the name. The challenge is that the words you supply have to be in the second language, as well as rhyming with the name.
10. Consecutive Storytelling
Are you looking for funny language games that don’t require any preparation? If so, it’s time for consecutive storytelling.
As games go, the rules couldn’t be simpler. The first player makes up a sentence in the language being learned. The second player makes up the second sentence, the third player the third and so on. The game goes on for as long as you can manage before the story descends into complete chaos!
11. Ding Dong Coconut
Another great Google Home game for the whole family is Ding Dong Coconut. The idea of the game is that you associate words with sounds. You hear a sound with an associated word, with a new sound and word for each round.
For those learning a second language, you can add in your own fun by translating the associated word in each round.
12. Secret Word
Language games for kids who are old enough to be speaking their second language at a more advanced level need to stretch their abilities. That’s where Secret Word comes in.
The premise is simple. You give the first player a secret word and a subject to talk about for a full minute. The secret word is entirely unrelated to the subject, but the player has to work it into their speech. The other players have to guess what the word is.
13. Connecting Words
If your little ones are bored of sitting at a table to learn, why not mix up your language games a bit by including Connecting Words? All you need is a ball of wool or string and a few words written on post-it notes in the language the children are learning. The words need to be the names of objects within the room.
Stick the post-it notes around the room and then give the children several lengths of wool. Their job is to stick one end of each piece of wool to a post-it note and the other to the object named on that post-it note.
Of course, once you’ve got a room criss-crossed with pieces of string, you can add to the fun by trying to cross the room by manoeuvring between the strings without touching any!
Hangman is one of those classic language games that never goes out of fashion. No matter which language your children are learning, they can play this simple game almost as soon as they are old enough to read and write.
The rules are super simple. You think of a word in the language the children are learning and then draw a blank underlined space for each of its letters. The children guess a letter. If it’s in the word, you write it in the relevant space(s). If it’s not, you draw one element of the hangman structure. The children win if they get the word before you draw the poor man meeting his demise.
15. Help Me!
This is one of those language games that can work with children of almost any age – you just suit the language you use to the age and ability of those with whom you’re playing.
To prepare, grab a box and fill it with various items from around the house. Then give the box to the children. Next, cry out “Help me!” and describe the item you need. The children’s job is to locate the correct item from the box in the shortest time possible.
There are plenty of ways to vary this game. You can give each child their own box or hide the objects around the room. You can also give them a set time to find the item you need. As fun language games go, it’s one that you can play again and again without it getting dull, simply by including different objects each time.
If you’re stuck at home and looking for fun language games and activities to play with the family, then hopefully the above list has given you some inspiration.
Balancing work and home responsibilities is really hard for many people right now. We hope that the above helps on the home front. If you need support on the business side of things, the Tomedes Crisis Communication Center is always available to help. Simply contact us to find out more.