Two fun ways to improve your Spanish

As some of you might already know, I am/was an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.  And I know that some of you are currently struggling with your Spanish.  I'm not sure if I am capable of writing frequent Spanish lessons, with detailed explanations on the proper use of Spanish grammar.  I'll leave that to experts like Mexico Bob, Rodney from My Spanish Notes and Pablo from Effective Swearing in D.F.  But I can share a few tips on improving your Spanish, starting with two fun games.  (Note: These games work with any language you are trying to learn!)

The first game I'm going to teach you is called BASTA! (Enough!)  It is best played with someone else, preferably someone that is a fluent Spanish speaker.  Each player will need a pen and a piece of paper.

The first thing you need to do is write the alphabet on a piece of paper.  Cut out each letter and place them in a bowl. 

Draw the columns (see pic below) on each sheet of paper, then choose a category for each column.  For beginners, I suggest using only 5 categories: Name(s), Places, Animals, Food & Drink and Objects.

For advanced Spanish speakers, use as many categories as you like.  We play BASTA often with our older kiddies and teenage nephews and nieces and we get pretty creative with our categories.  Some of the ones we use include: 
  •  First Name (Male)
  •  First Name (Female)
  •  Last Name
  •  Geography (City, State, Country or Continent)
  •  Animal
  •  Flowers/Plants
  •  Occupation
  •  Sport/Game
  •  Movies/TV shows
  •  Food & Drink
  •  Objects
One player picks a letter from the bowl and everyone must fill out one row on their card using Spanish words with the letter chosen, as fast as they can.  The first person to complete the entire row must yell, "BASTA!" (Enough or Stop.)  And the other players must put their pencils/pens down.

At the end of each letter, the players must compare their answers.  If a player had an original answer, he scores 100 points for that catergory.  If two players wrote down the same answer, they both get 50 points for that catergory.  And if 3 or more players wrote down the same answer, they all receive 25 points.  If you use the five columns/catergories, like the example below, each player can earn up to 500 points per letter.

Now it's time for another player to pick a letter from the bowl.  Continue playing for as long as you like.  At the end of the game, the person with the highest score wins!

Below is a sample of a BASTA game board.  The first letter drawn was "M", followed by the letter "C".


A second game that you can play all by yourself is the Alphabet Game.  Again, you will need pen and paper.  And you will need to choose ONE catergory, for example: People around town, toys, school supplies, verbs or objects that you have in your home.  Now make a list, using Spanish words, from A to Z of the category you chose.

People Around Town:

A - Albañil (construction worker)
B - Bombero (fireman)
C - Carpintero (carpenter)
D - Dentista (dentist)
E - Electricista (electrician)
F - Fontanero (plumber)
G - Granjero (farmer)
H - Huarachero (huarache maker) 

Don't worry if you get stuck on a letter, even the most fluent Spanish speaker can have a hard time with this exercise.  Just be sure to keep your Spanish/English dictionary handy so you can learn new words.

And most importantly, don't forget to have fun.



  1. Nice and informative blog. You have really mentioned some good points.

  2. These games sound like fun, and my fourth grade daughter is taking Spanish language classes this year. This will come in handy..thanks for sharing.