10 Online Games and Activities for National Foreign Language Week 2021
National Foreign Language Week 2021 is here! From March 7-13, teachers all over the United States will be celebrating foreign languages. This year is going to be different than most since the majority of students and classrooms are still being taught online. However, at HSA we make virtual classrooms empowering rather than limiting, and today we’ll share some activities that will make National Foreign Language Week 2021 a fun experience. Some of these activities are also useful for regular classes, while others will help your students stay engaged in your online classroom during National Foreign Language Week 2021.
Language is the medium through which we communicate, cooperate, and grow—and celebrating different languages brings light to this fact. Surprisingly, over seven thousand languages exist in the world! That means there are over seven thousand ways to say hola and te amo.
By learning a new language,you open the door to communicate with millions of other people, which is what celebrating National Foreign Language Week 2021 is all about.
This year, let’s make celebrating in the virtual classroom easy with 10 online games and activities for National Foreign Language Week 2021!
1. Minecraft: Education Edition
Minecraft is the highest selling game of all time, with sales going over two hundred million to this day. Chances are most if not all of your students know about and have played Minecraft before. Mojang, Minecraft’s developer, came up with Minecraft: Education Edition to bring the magic of videogames into the classroom.
You can host in-game classes with the option of having blackboards, as well as download premade lessons such as Hola Mundo, and Crafting Spanish Literature. You can ask your school if they have Minecraft: Education Edition available for their students and host an online lesson to change things up.
Read their page on distance learning to learn more about how you can incorporate this game into National Foreign Language Week 2021.
2. Tabletop Simulator & Tabletopia
Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia are virtual environments made to play different board games with your friends or students online. Playing board games in Spanish is a tried and true technique to give your students an extra boost of learning and fun.
These games have a “workshop” feature where you’ll find hundreds of free board games to download and play. The downside to Tabletop Simulator is that in order to play it with more than one person each player must own a copy of the game.
However, some board games don’t require input from each individual player, so you can look for games that would work with only using your words. Tabletopia, on the other hand, allows players to join the game through their web browser without buying the game themselves. If you’re not sure if buying a videogame exclusively for National Foreign Language Week 2021, ask your students if they have the game on their computers.
Chances are someone will have it and you’ll be able to plan the game with their help.
3. Jackbox Games
Jackbox Games is a collection of word and drawing based games that are perfect for celebrating National Foreign Language Week 2021. Most of these games are better suited for teenagers and adults who are learning a new language, but the open writing prompts can be tempting for a class clown to write something that’s not classroom friendly. However, these games offer trivia challenges that will guarantee an all-ages experience.
Jackbox games such as Quiplash come in 5 different languages. If you’re a Spanish teacher, a group of independent translators have translated most Jackbox games into Spanish and released downloadable translations that will make National Foreign Language Week 2021 a fun time for everyone!
The best part about these games is that you only need a computer with the game installed for everyone to play it. Players can connect to the game through any web browser on their phones, tablets, or computers up to a total of eight players. The rest of the players will become “audience members” that will also participate in each game, so you can rotate your students and give everyone a chance to play whilst keeping high engagement levels.
Teleparty started to gain popularity during the 2020 lockdown. Since we’re still practicing social distancing, having the option to watch a movie in Spanish with other people is fantastic. Teleparty also offers a chat function where students and teachers can ask questions about vocabulary or cultural context.
This is a great way to adapt the classic movie-watching experience that many teachers prepare for National Foreign Language Week 2021. Check out our post on celebrating foreign languages through film to look at some great family-friendly films to watch with your students.
5. Virtual Background Games
This is an amazing way to get your National Foreign Language Week 2021 started. By playing virtual background games you’re getting three birds with one stone: student engagement, building rapport, and learning a new language. Virtual backgrounds are images that replace the backdrop of a speaker during a video conference.
Zoom and many other virtual conference platforms offer this option, and it’s up to you to gamify it! First, prepare some questions for your students such as “What’s your favorite Spanish word?”
Ask them to think about the question without saying it out loud, and prompt them to look for an image that represents that object, movie, or place. Then, each student sets the picture as their virtual background and the rest of them take turns to guess what the background represents. This will help with students that keep their cameras off during class, and it’s a great way to have everyone pay attention when class starts.
6. Life Collage
“Life collages” are a great get-to-know-you activity that has the potential to create amazing bonding experiences. You can ask your students to create a collage with pictures and images that represent them in different aspects of their lives.
In my psychology class we touched subjects such as interests, values, prejudices, and important life experiences. You can adapt these subjects to fit the theme of National Foreign Language Week 2021! You could choose subjects such as positive cultural experiences or foreign language in your family.
The objective of this activity is to get to know each other, but it works even if your students have known each other for a long time. You’d be surprised to learn how much we don’t know about each other even after many years of studying together!
A “country collage” is a more focused and potentially less personal approach to the life collage idea. You can use this as an alternative to the life collage if you consider sharing personal information isn’t the best setting for your students.
That doesn’t mean to say intimate moments won’t happen at all with this activity, though! Take the same premise as the life collage assignment, but let the students choose a country of their own. Some will choose a country to learn about while others will choose the country that they or their family came from. If you encourage your students to use tools such as Canva or Presi, they will for sure be grateful for the tools for future presentations.
8. Vocabulary Presentations
Vocabulary is one of the main pillars of language learning. That means it’s also one of the main pillars of National Foreign Language Week 2021! If you prefer to lean into traditional teaching methods, vocabulary presentations are different enough for a special event but solid enough for thorough learning.
Let your students become teachers for a day and teach about a subject of your—or their—choice. Giving broad subjects and guidelines will help them cover solid ground, and allowing them to freely choose the subject will open the doors to creativity and unexpected lessons.
9. How to Get The Best Out Of Your Kahoot
Kahoot is a gamified quiz app—and it’s one of the most popular teaching tools out there that assists educators with virtual alternatives and silly screen names. In my experience as a student, I’ve noticed that most teachers rely only on the standard “true or false” and multiple choice questions when there are so many different ways to spice up your Kahoot game!
Double point questions, puzzle images, and puzzle answers will turn your standard Kahoot quiz into a more engaging experience. If you’re planning to make a Kahoot quiz for National Foreign Language Week 2021, consider checking out Kahoot’s question types and game options.
10. Family Language Tree
Learning about our past connects us with other cultures. You can use this knowledge to create a “family language tree” and help your students learn about themselves and the languages that their families speak. Prompt your students to investigate their heritage, focusing especially on the languages spoken by their families and ancestors.
Some students will find rich diversity in their family tree and will come with interesting stories to tell. Other students will find themselves with less information to give, take that moment to empower them and give them the chance to shine even if their family language isn’t as diverse as they thought.
You can achieve this by prompting them to look at their mother tongue and the history of their language. You can also achieve this by reminding them that, by learning a new language, they are bringing a kind of value to their families that wasn’t present before. The main objective of this activity is to encourage students to be proud of their origins and to get to know themselves and the languages that influence their lives.
Let’s Celebrate National Foreign Language Week 2021 Together!
National Foreign Language Week 2021 is going to be unlike any other National Foreign Language Week we’ve had. However, we now have more experience and know how to thrive and be productive in a virtual environment. At Homeschool Spanish Academy we have had the privilege of teaching Spanish online years before the lockdown started in 2020, and we love to share that experience with other language lovers. If you’re a Spanish teacher looking for activities, you can encourage your students to have a conversation with a native speaker by signing up for a trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy. No credit card or commitment required, just the desire to speak Spanish!
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