Games for Acquisition

Games For Acquisition

A few months ago, I asked the people on my email list what questions they had. I got a ton of great questions, and the best part was… some I knew the answers to, and it made me feel good! Others I didn’t, and it has helped me become a better, more educated teacher while I learn alongside you! But today’s post is about games for acquisition. There are all kinds of games we can play in WL classrooms, but which ones actually help move the needle when it comes to building proficiency? I’ll share a few today!

Contextualized Games

One of the most popular games is called Magic 6’s, or Dame el lápiz!. In this game, I usually pair students as opponents. Both students get a copy of the questions. One student rolls a die until they get a 6. While they’re rolling, the other student is writing the answers. Because there’s only 1 die and 1 pencil, a combination of skill and luck are needed. Students LOVE this game!

I used to play this game with questions that were just a subject and verb, and students would conjugate. Or Spanish to English vocab translation. But to be more in line with contextualized, comprehensible input, I’ve adapted this to be more like a cloze activity. HERE is one example. In this activity, students are practicing conjugating in the present tense, but within the context of a story written at the Intermediate-Low reading level. At the end are some comprehension questions to ensure that they really understood what they were reading.

Mystery-Solving Games

Another one of my games for acquisition is a reading scavenger hunt. My students found this challenging the first time, to be honest. They needed some help and some hints. But now they LOVE getting up to move around the room and really love solving a mystery!

Create a story for reading comprehension. Work in whatever you want your students to be practicing in terms of vocabulary or grammar (or both!) Break the story into 10 sections, and hang up the sections around the room. Each section should have a question at the bottom, but the answer will appear on a different section. Students grid their answers, and then use the shaded letters to unscramble to word (s) that answer the final question… and mystery solved! Content delivered! Skills practiced! But they were too busy having fun to notice that they were learning! HERE is one about Spring Festivals in Spain if you want to take a look.

Speaking Games

I’m always thinking about ways for students to speak in the TL. They are anxious and avoid it when left to their own devices. But turning things into a game means they don’t know that they’re learning and working hard! I use this spring speaking game and a similar winter snowball speaking game to encourage spontaneous and creative language.

I provide the scaffolding they need, whether it’s vocabulary expressions or grammar structures, and I turn things into a competition! And in these games, sometimes I let the students make the rules! For example, one twist on this game is that I let the opponent choose the words the other has to use in their round! They love having control over some or parts of their game!

HERE is my Spring Speaking Game!

Dictation Games

Another great idea I found at some point along the way was a game called a Running Dictation. Instead of students sitting in their seats, sweating with nerves while they try to keep up and write what they hear, let’s get them up and moving!

Write a short story with lots of comprehensible input. Create a sheet with text boxes, and break up the story into boxes. Create a matching sheet with empty boxes. Pair your students. One will stay at their seat with the empty sheet. Their partner will run around the room to look at the story sheets you’ve hung up. They come rushing back and tell their partner exactly what to write. Ask them to switch roles half way through!

HERE is one I just used last week with my students!

Group Reading Games

I actually tried this game for the first time today. I got the idea from Señora Chase during the WL Teachers Summit held by Jarred Romney. To foster collaboration and reading comprehension, I put my students in groups of 4. We are currently working on a unit related to healthy living, and our grammar focus will be on giving advice. We are hoping that students will reach Intermediate Low by the end of the year, meaning they are beginning to create with language, and are using the present tense well. The group of 4 must read the story carefully and make sure everyone understands the whole thing.

Each member of the group is assigned a number (1-4). When you’ve given time for students to read together, call all the #1’s to the front. Give them a white board and marker and ask a question related to the text they read. Anyone who gets it right picks a card from a deck of cards. At the end of the game, total the number of points shown on the card.

As students read together, they learn reading strategies from their peers. They’re motivated because they all want to get their answer right and earn a card for their team! This is how games for acquisition can transform your classroom from dull to dynamic! HERE is a set of readings that you can easily use for this kind of game!

Games are a great way to increase motivation and engagement! And there are plenty of ways to make sure our games really are helping to build proficiency!


Spanish Reading Comprehension Game: Magic 6’s CI Sabor Express

Spanish 3 Reading Comprehension Passages for Games

Spanish Running Dictation Partner Game: Healthy Living Theme

Spanish Spring Festivals in Spain Reading Scavenger Hunt w/ Follow Up Activities

Spring Speaking Game

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Games for Acquisition