“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” —Benjamin Franklin
If you’re looking for ways to get your German students more involved in the learning process, there’s no better way to do so than by getting them engaged in games that will reinforce what they are learning in class, bolster their language confidence and expose them to German culture.
Young learners are competitive, and when they play games, their focus isn’t on getting everything exactly right—that can come later. What games do instead is provide a way for your students to experience German rather than just studying it.
Ready to make your classroom a fun, exciting and productive learning environment? Here are some games to share with your students.
Go Online with FluentU
There are all kinds of great games online that your students can play to develop their language skills, but FluentU is one of the best resources out there. What makes its games and lessons so special?
FluentU takes real-world videos like movie trailers, news segments, inspiring talks and music videos and turns them into language learning lessons.
The best part? It’s all in a super addictive, gamified format that your students will love while you’re able to share authentic German culture with content that native German speakers actually watch and listen to. Your students get to hear how modern German is spoken in everyday life.
Explore topics like the following:
- Arts and entertainment
- Everyday life
- Health and lifestyle
- Politics and society
- Science and technology
Wer Bin Ich?
This is a great game that can be tailored to almost any unit your students are learning. Wer ben ich is a popular German office or party game and translates well into a classroom setting. You may even have played it stateside as the game Who Am I?
Each student gets a small piece of paper with a German historical person. Without seeing the name written on the paper, students tape the paper to their forehead. They then can ask yes or no questions in German to see if they can figure out who it is. Students can ask questions in turn, one at a time, or they can ask a set number of questions in a row. Whoever manages to answer the question first or with the fewest number of questions wins.
You can switch things up and change what’s on the slip of paper to match your current unit, which means you can use historical figures or focus on current figures in German political or popular culture, German fairy tale characters, German musicians, names of occupations, cities, Bundeslands and more.
Pull Out the Board Games
Die Siedler von Catan
You already may have played the English version of this game, Settlers of Catan, but Die Siedler von Catan actually got its start in Germany and is a great cultural and educational tool for your German language students.
Three to four students can play at a time, and expansion packs are available so that your students can play in groups of up to five or six. The goal of the game is to win points by establishing your own settlement with roads, armies and more, and if you’ve never played, it can get pretty intense! Students will love the competitive nature of the game, and because it’s easy to learn, they can play a full game during class.
To develop language skills, ask your students to communicate in only German, or learn the vocabulary words ahead of time.
Mensch ärgere Dich nicht
Much like the U.S. games Sorry! and Parcheesi, this game is all about getting ahead and sending others back. Students work to get their four game pieces from the “out” area of the board game to the correct “home” spaces, but they can send each other back to start too.
You can add in review questions in preparation for your students’ next test or quiz to reinforce your most recent unit. If they get a question right, they can take their turn. If they get it wrong? They have to sit out their turn.
This game is great for young learners who have energy to burn and works fine in a classroom but works even better in a gym or outside on a court or field.
To play Four Corners, ask your students a series of questions with four possible answers that correspond to four different corners of your space. Once the question is asked, students have 10 seconds to get to the corner with the right answer.
Each student gets one point for every question they get right, and the first student to reach 10 points (or whatever point value you set) wins the game. You also can try this with two corners of the room for true/false questions. As an added bonus? You get immediate feedback about what topic areas need a little bit more review.
German is infamous for lots of compound words to express new or complex ideas. You can get your students accustomed to these compound words with grammar dominoes.
To start, divide your class into groups of three or four. Each group gets a set of 36 cards with each card bearing two different words or word parts. Distribute all the cards evenly to all the participating students, matching neighboring cards on the domino train together so that words combine successfully, verbs agree and the cards correspond correctly. Players who can’t play must skip a turn. The first player to get rid of all their dominoes wins.
You can use this game for more than compound words. Students can play with pronouns and conjugated verb forms, infinitives and past participles, adjectives and comparative forms, two-way prepositions, questions and answers, and any other theme that works for your lessons.
Hone your students’ German listening skills with a game of past-tense bingo. Write a list of infinitive verb forms on the board, then have your students create their own bingo card with these corresponding verbs. Read a story to your class using the past-tense version of these verbs, and have students mark off the infinitive on their bingo card.
The first student to mark off five infinitives in a row is the winner.
Games are a fantastic way to get your students immersed in the German language. Looking for more ways to get your students enthused about learning? Why not share German books with your students that are designed to improve their language skills and have fun at the same time?
At Kinderbooks, we have books for German students at every reading level, from early readers to advanced readers and beyond. And we have a teacher’s affiliate program to make it easier than ever to share books and other resources with the families of your students.
Learning doesn’t have to stop in the classroom. We have the resources you need to help your students take their love of language to the next level. With stronger language skills, your classroom game days will be more competitive than ever before!