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It was my friend’s birthday recently, and in preparation for his birthday party he decided to purchase some party games to entertain his guests with. I was invited to ‘playtest’ some of these games and to see which ones would work well in a general party environment and which other games would be better suited to a dedicated games night, with a smaller but more committed group of people.
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After a while, I thought about how the games could be adapted for polyglots and language learners

The first game that I played was called “Train of Thought”. BoardGameGeek’s description of this game is pretty apt:

Train of Thought is a party word game. Players take turns trying to get opponents to guess a particular word, giving only a 3 word clue – and one of those words must be from a prior answer! For each clue given, each player may make 1 guess. If none are correct, the clue-giver creates another clue, using one of the guesses and up to 2 other words.

When the word is correctly guessed, the guessing player and the clue giver each get one point, and the clue giver draws a new card and continues making clues. Get as many as you can in 2 minutes!

Train of Thought really makes you think differently than other games in the genre. An excellent party game!

It took a while to grasp the rules, but this was a very entertaining game once we found out how to play it properly. My guesswork was pretty poor, but I felt much better at giving clues (it reminded me of an ESL teaching technique called eliciting which I consider to be one of my strengths).

The next game we played was called “Man Bites Dog”. I’ll also include it’s BoardGameGeek description here:

It’s the hilarious headline card game! This game is a little different: you’re dealt a hand of cards with words on them, each with a point value. When it’s your turn, construct the headline that earns the highest points… and often the biggest laughs! The first player to get to 500 points wins. If more than one player earns 500 points when the hand’s points are totaled, the highest score wins.

Each round, players are dealt 5 cards. They may discard and replace up to 3 three of them, and then each one makes a sensible headline with the cards in their hand. The value of the headline is doubled for anyone using an “Exclusive” card. The first player to reach 500 points is declared the winner.

This game was definitely a lot easier to play, and the rules are very easy to grasp. It also uses lots of verbs which could be intransitive (in the picture at the top of this post it says “swinging tween attacks” for example) and linguistically it is a very well designed game. It also helps a lot that you are given the cards with words on and all you have to do is order the cards so they make the most sense (and to make the game more interesting, it helps if you have the funniest/most ridiculous headlines).

I think that with some careful advice and guidance from bilingual people, these games could be adapted or localised and be turned into very powerful language learning tools! I remember playing Thai board games with the locals in my neighbourhood coffee shop when I was living in Bangkok and that really helped me gain a lot of confidence and enjoyment with the language.

Although this blog is meant to be more of a language learning log as I eventually become a polyglot, I would absolutely love to make some quirky and entertaining language games / tools along the way to achieving my long term polyglot goal.