If you teach a foreign language class, whether it be French, German, Spanish, or even English as a Second/Foreign Language, or for that matter any language at all, you’ve almost certainly observed that students learn best and fastest when they actively participate in the class, especially if such participation includes the opportunity to converse in the language. Activities which encourage such participation are therefore very popular with language teachers including, of course, educational games.
One game that you may not have considered is bingo. Many people tend to think of it as a game played in bingo halls or church basements, as well as online, often by older people, mainly as a social activity, but also for the opportunity to win relatively modest prizes. However, bingo is a very simple game that can easily be adapted to a wide variety of different situations, is quickly learned by students, and is ideal for use in education.
To play in the classroom each student is given a bingo card, and the teacher acts as the caller. However, there are differences from the normal game the main one being that usually special cards containing words are used. The teacher also has the option of changing the gameplay process, for example, to encourage class discussion by calling each item.
Here are a few ideas for variations of the game suitable for use in a language class:
- If teaching a language that uses a different alphabet, you could prepare bingo cards with letters of that language’s alphabet. Play a quick game at the start of every lesson, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly students will learn to instantly recognize any character.
- You could use cards with words in a foreign language, but make the calls in English. Conversely, you could use cards containing English words, and make the calls in a foreign language.
- Language classes are of course mainly about learning the language, but if students are learning French or German, you probably also want to teach them at least a little bit about the people, geography and culture of France or Germany. Fortunately, there’s no reason why you couldn’t, for example, play using cards containing the names of cities, foods, historical figures from the country, etc.
- Even bingo cards containing numbers can be used. If you want your students to learn to recognize numbers in the language, call out the numbers in that language.
To summarize, there are a wide variety of ways that the game can be used to help with language teaching, and no doubt you can probably think of some more ideas too! One thing that you are probably wondering about though is where to get special bingo cards containing foreign characters or vocabulary. Well, the answer is simple the simplest and cheapest thing to do is for you to print them from your computer. Free ready-to-use bingo printables can be downloaded from the Internet, or easy-to-use software for printing bingo cards is available at a surprisingly affordable price.