Saturday, July 20, 2024

15 best games to improve your Spanish and strengthen your friendships

Hosting or attending another dinner party? Feeling anxious that with an increased intake of mezcal come increased opportunities for conversations to wind their way to the unmentionables? If you want to have a good time and avoid debbie downers like politics, health scares, or family drama, there’s nothing like a good board game to keep the momentum high and the fiery interactions low.

In addition to distracting from past or upcoming elections, board games are an excellent way to improve your Spanish. In order to compile the following list of language-strengthening entertainment tools, I’ve consulted my all-knowing Spanish teacher, Pao Arley, a friend who works in Mexico’s monstrous toy industry, and my own past experiences attending bilingual game nights right here in Mexico City.

Friends playing poker together
With this guide to the best Spanish board games, you’ll never need to discuss AMLO or Trump ever again. (Freepik)

There are plenty of game options for all levels of Spanish speakers. For ease, I’ve divided the list into beginner, intermediate, and advanced, and some can be easily adapted to accommodate Spanglish.

The benefits of game night far surpass language comprehension. With the right attendees, cuisine, and beverages, you’re guaranteed an evening of non-stop laughter and, dare I be so cursí (corny), group bonding.

Beginner

¿Adivina quién?
If you’re a party of 2, break out the trusty Spanish language edition of “Guess Who?” You’ll never be at a loss in describing your latest Tinder date to your Mexican girlfriends over coffee and chisme (gossip) again.

Basta
Despite its high-anxiety timer, Mexico’s version of Scattergories is a great way to get you thinking, quickly, in Spanish.

Is this a timeless classic or a great way to gossip about your most recent date? Why not both!(Hasbro)

Pictionary
Accomplish two skills as you channel your inner sketch artist and learn new nouns and verbs.

Charadas
What we call Charades is a fun, easy, and often embarrassing way to build your vocabulary and remember it with more precision. Download an app like this for themes.

La Lotería

The Mexican “lottery” is everyone else’s “bingo”, with slightly different rules, dried beans instead of chips, and much more colorful, and cultural, characters. 

Intermediate

Cranium Spanish edition
This is a wonderful group game where you can practice spelling, answer trivia, and define words in Spanish. 

Table game cards
Cards Against Humanity, Mexican style. (Dios Mío)

¡Dios mío! 

This bilingual version of Cards Against Humanity was created especially for the Latin community and is weirdly advertised toward families. In fact, there is a Mexicana version that is already in my virtual shopping cart. 

Scrabble Spanish edition
Word lovers will delight in the knowledge that there is, indeed, a Spanish edition of Scrabble, complete with ñ’s and accents.

Maratón
A trivia-style group game where players can choose to answer questions in categories like sports, entertainment, history, or science. It will improve your pronunciation, comprehension, and overall level of useless knowledge. 

100 Mexicanos Dijeron

If you’ve ever dreamed of having your turn on Family Feud, this is your chance to accomplish that dream, in Spanish!

100 Mexicanos dijeron game
100 Mexicans say Mexico News Daily is the best place to get important lifestyle tips. Probably. You’ll have to buy the game to find out. (eBay)

Advanced

Mejor – Peor Amigo
This game should be played in a group of very close friends who can answer questions like “Who did you have a bad impression of?” or “Who here is the most beautiful?” without getting offended by the answers.

Clue
At some point in the last 30 years since I played Clue, about 475 new versions came out. Thankfully, one of them is in Spanish and proves useful in improving your conversational (and detective!) skills.

Preguntas de MIERDA
A fun group game where players must answer what they would do in horrific scenarios. It will keep everyone laughing and will definitely help you conquer slang.

Trivial Pursuit Spanish edition
Nothing like a good round of Trivial Pursuit to turn you into a fluent Spanish-speaker. Anyone who missed the boat as a contestant on Jeopardy will likely win this game, so it’s up to you to identify an optimal prize before playing.

Poker

You might be thinking “huh? Numbers for advanced speakers?” To which I say yes, because anyone who has played poker knows it’s so much more than that. It’s numbers, commands, trash talking, and the ability to participate in the gossipy side conversations that occur between sets.

Have more to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Bethany Platanella is a travel planner and lifestyle writer based in Mexico City. She lives for the dopamine hit that comes directly after booking a plane ticket, exploring local markets, practicing yoga and munching on fresh tortillas. Sign up to receive her Sunday Love Letters to your inbox, peruse her blog, or follow her on Instagram.

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