Top Tip for Beginners – the First Words to Learn in a Second Language

Discover the best start to learning a language for beginners

If you are a beginner and thinking about learning a new language, you have to start somewhere. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi said: A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. So true.

Learn foreign words for beginners

Foreign Words for beginners

However, while you cannot determine the length of the journey, you can decide where to start from. For beginners, most systems will start with a series of pictures of familiar objects to learn such as “ball” and “book” or of people such as “nurse” or “teacher” etc. They will then build on these nouns with some relevant verbs such as “to read” (the book) or to “to wait for” (the teacher).

It’s not the best place to start. A few nouns – yes, that’s OK….but the verbs selected are not the best. Ideally you want to firstly learn verbs that will work in nearly all situations. This means your language ability will grow massively, quickly.

Let’s take the verb “to read”. The issue with this verb is that it only works with a select few nouns. You can read a newspaper, a book, a magazine, a kindle….but you can’t read a ball, a nurse or a teacher (or indeed much else). So in 99.99% of the time you will not be able to use the verb “to read”.

Multi-functional Verbs

language learners beginners learn these verbs first

Multi-functional verbs are more useful like a Swiss army knife

There are, however, verbs that WILL work in 99.9% of the time. I like to think of these verbs as the Swiss Army Knife of verbs…a multi-tool that you can attach to nouns to express yourself.

Here’s a great multi-functional verb:

“To See”

I see the nurse, I see the ball, I see the teacher, I see the traffic jam, I see your point! So lets learn the verb “to see” ahead of “to read”. I hope you see my point

When I was inventing KLOO, (a game for learning a second language) I discovered that there actually aren’t that many multi-functional verbs – so they are very precious. It also means that you don’t have to learn too many before you have the complete set. It is for this reason that we packed our language games with them….and also why they are recommended language games for beginners as well as intermediate language learners.

Here’s a list of Multi-Functional Verbs to learn first:

To prefer

To want

To adore

To like

To hate

To ask for

To choose

To bring

To look for

To love

To find

To look at

There are some great second league multi-functional verbs too…although not quite as useful s the premier league list above, these are terrific too.

To pay for

To sell

To buy

To refuse

To have

To hold

To take

Learn these and your ability to express yourself quickly and easily will grow exponentially. That’s why it’s a great place for language beginners to start.

At KLOO language games we use ALL these verbs in our games because we know how important they are. Furthermore, each deck you play with has a different theme such as “Eating & Drinking”, “People”, “Clothes” and “Everyday Objects” through which you will learn relevant nouns, adjectives and connectives.

Q. Guess how many sentences you can make with one deck of KLOO – because we use multi-functional verbs. (Hundreds?, Thousands? Tens of thousand? Hundreds of thousands? More? )…see below

French and Spanish for beginners

I see a brown dog

A: More…see how many

Have fun learning a new language….see too how easy it is to learn these words using KLOO’s unique Discovery Learning system. Have fun. Learn faster.

Posted in Build Vocabulary, french for beginners, homeschooling, Language Learning, language techniques, Spanish for beginners | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homeschooling for Spanish and French – how parents can easily help their children learn a language

(and not be fluent)

Homeschooling Spanish French and Italian with KLOO gamesHomeschooling is a big undertaking. Parents aim to educate their children at home and aspire to provide an education at least as good, if not better, than the local school system. Apart from the monumental responsibility of being a parent and the primary educator…parents need to become proficient at a raft of subjects usually taught by specialist teachers.

In most subjects a parent needs to master a subject in order to teach it…science subjects, geography, mathematics all require the comprehension of complex  systems. Even in English the parent will need to have a grasp of what constitutes good English, grammar, spelling and articulation. It’s admirable but many home schools manage it, just fine.

Homeschooling Resources for Spanish and French

Language are a little bit different. It’s not easy for a parent to be fluent in a foreign language (if they aren’t already). But here’s the good news. Research shows that parents don’t have to be fluent in a second language to help their children learn (see Helping your child learn a language). Indeed, the child will benefit from you just learning alongside them.

What is more, research again suggests that one of the best ways to learn a language is to play games (see: What’s the best way to teach children a language?). So your lesson can be consist of playing as opposed to studying…and at the same time be more effective.

Award winning French and Spanish Homeschooling Resources

There is a language game that is ideally suited for homeschooling. It enables learners to start making Spanish or French sentences in seconds as well as build their vocabulary as they play. Amazingly they can learn Spanish or French up ten times faster than by using traditional methods. Indeed, parents can play and learn fast too. The game is called KLOO and it has won many awards, is the UK’s No 1 best selling foreign language game on Amazon UK and is increasingly used by many top schools.

It’s really fun too. Take a look.

Posted in board games, Educational Games, homeschooling, homeschooling resources, language games, mfl games, mfl resources, Teach yourself French | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How playing games is driving academic excellence

As exam results roll in, games are shown to boost performance

In the UK, it’s the season for academic results…students opening letters followed by squeals of delight or moans of despair. There is a lot of post exam analysis…where could I have improved this? What could I have done differently?

At the same time an article in the Sunday Times caught my eye:

“Maths GCSE for girls 8 and 9!”

mfl games improve performance

Improve academic performance through games

GCSEs are UK exams taken by 16 year olds…to pass a GCSE at aged 8 or 9 is remarkable. So you wonder how did they do it? One might presume that they are from a privileged background? Perhaps they have been hot-housed with wall to wall study?

Not a bit of it. Out of the paper are smiling two primary school girls, from the borough of Newham, East London (a poorer part of the capital). Furthermore, it says they achieved this remarkable feat simply by attending an after school club which encourages children to see maths as a game!

Hats off to them…

use games to improve perfoirmance

Max Whitlock’s secret to success: Enjoy what you do

At the same time I heard an interview on BBC radio from an British Olympic athlete,  Max Whitlock who achieved 2 gold medals in Rio. He took up gymnastics when he was youngster and loved it because it was fun. He said:

“What you love doing you do more of ….and what you do more of, you get good at”

That sums it up and that’s why games work in academic performance. Those two young girls from Newham did more maths because they were having fun and because they did more, they got really good at it…so good they passed exams designed for 16 year olds.

While games are increasingly recognised as a power for good in schools – they are often thrown in as an after thought instead of being at the centre of learning. If you can find a really a strong game you can jet propel your learning without having to work or study.

There’s a language game where parents and teachers have said things such as:

“My daughter came home from school yesterday and said they spent all of double French lesson playing KLOO – and the whole class loved it.”
Anne Green, Parent, Highgate School

“I love this game – all my French students have benefited so much from using it.”
Helen Burlefinger, MFL Teacher

“My students quickly became engrossed in the game and were correcting each others sentences in a way that would make an Ofsted inspector proud!”
Kate Norman, Director of Language College, Peterborough

Now thousands of schools and homes are using the game to achieve great results.

The secret to success is often this: Achieve more by having fun.

Learn French with KLOO board games

Play the game improve your French

Find out more:

Video Game v Board Game – how board games fought back

Research on how Games improve Language Learning in Class

The many surprising benefits of playing board games

Posted in board games, Educational Games, language games, mfl games, Spanish Games | Leave a comment

10 Compelling Reasons to learn French

There are lots of good reasons to learn a second language and there are some special reasons to learn French. It’s a shame, therefore, that in the recent Rio Olympics French Officials tried hard to enforce the speaking of French just because it was written into the rules a hundred years ago (a legacy of the Frenchman, Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern games). Making people use a language because it’s in the rules? That’s never going to work! We have to persuade people it’s worthwhile. And it is.

Here I have collected 10 top reasons to learn French.

  1. French is a true global language. In Europe French is spoken in 6 countries: France, Switzerland (west), Belgium (south), Monaco, Andorra, Luxembourg (west). Worldwide French is spoken on 5 continents. There are 29 countries where French is an official language. In North America French is an official language of Canada.
  2. For English monolinguals, French is one of the easiest languages to learn because of its Latin base which English  shares. French was also, for a few centuries following William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066, the official language of the English royal courts (court is a French word!). Most studies have French in the top 5 of easiest languages to learn. It’s even easier to learn using this award winning French language games that help learners learn fast.
  3. English shares many words with French. Indeed French is considered to be the biggest influence on  English with up to 30% of English words stemming from French origin.
  4. France is a drop dead gorgeous country…and the biggest tourist destination in the world. 84 million tourists arrive there every year…that’s more than the USA that lies in second place.
  5. The French people appreciate you speaking French – more so than other countries. (I have learned Italian and the Italians don’t give 2 figs whether you speak Italian or not). The French, on the other hand, are protective of their language (perhaps overly so) – so when you make an effort you are rewarded – usually with a smile and a willingness to help. Don’t just learn “Parlez-vous Anglais?” for your French trip – make an effort.
  6. It sounds cool – really cool. Without doubt one of the most beautiful languages to listen to…we all fall in love with a French accent, do we not? And listen to this cool pop song Ca plane our moi .
  7. It’s good for your career. Fluency in French looks good on your cv…France itself is one of the world’s top economies. Many studies have shown that a second language will boost your earnings.
  8. France and French history, culture, romance, and literature help us understand our place in the world. If we see the world through French eyes, we understand it better.
  9. There is fantastic support for learning French worldwide. See Alliance Française to find how to get started. The materials for learning French are superb too. If you are a beginner check out French games such as KLOO’s Race to Paris. You’ll learn hundreds of words and be able to make millions of sentences very quickly (yes millions).
  10. To cap it off – it’s good for your mental health. OK, it’s not strictly a “learning French” thing – just a general benefit of language learning. But the idea of staving off dementia in later life while accruing all these other benefits, has to make it worthwhile.
Family French Board Game of KLOO

Learning French together

Posted in French Games, Learn French, Teach yourself French | Leave a comment

How 70 words make into 7 million sentences

How to quickly learn a language using word groups!

Using words groups to learn a language

Einstein said compound growth was the most powerful force

Einstein once observed “Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” He was referring to how growth on growth produces astonishing results and is used by investors to grow their money piles.

However, not many people realise that the same principles can be applied to language learning. Indeed, by carefully selecting the words you learn into words groups, then your ability to speak another language will also be exponential. You will be putting to use the same forces that Einstein wonders at.

Let’s say we wanted to learn 60 words. If we learned 60 nouns, how many sentences could we make?

None.

Nouns don’t work together to make a sentence. That’s why its best too work in word groups.

OK let’s try this differently…let’s start with a pronoun and a verb. Let’s start with

I see

2 words 1 sentence

Now if we add say 20 nouns (let’s base this around people – so eg I see the teacher, I see the police officer) now how many sentences can we say? 21 (the original sentence, “I see”, and 20 new ones).

Now what if we were to learn another conjugation of the verb to see – eg we see? We double the number of sentences to 44 (I see the police officer, we see the police officer). Now we begin to see how our ability to speak a foreign language can grow exponentially, if we carefully continue to select words that work with each other.

Let’s say we have:

  • 20 verbs (eg I meet, we meet, I know, we know)
  • 20 nouns (eg the teacher, the doctor, the plumber, the policeman)
  • 7 adjectives (eg kind, clever, funny)
  • 4 connectives (eg and, as well as, with, alongside)
  • 4 expressions (eg It’s true! On the contrary!)

Mathematically, this is what happens:

Simple sentences with just the verb (eg I see, I know etc)

20 x 1 = Total: 20      Running Total 20

Verbs + nouns (I see the police officer).

20 x 20 = 400     Running Total 420

Verbs + nouns + adjectives (I see the clever doctor)

20 x 20 x 7 = 2800      Running Total 3220

Verbs + nouns + connective + noun (I know the doctor and the nurse)

20 x 20 x 20 = 8,000     Running Total 11,200

Verbs + nouns + adjective + connective + noun (I meet the clever plumber and the electrician)

20 x 20 x 7 x 20 = 56,000      Running Total = 67,200

Verbs + nouns + adjective + connective + noun + adjective (I watch the kind teacher and the funny boy)

20 x 20 x 7 x 20 x 7 = 392,000      Running Total = 459,200

Add three more connectives (eg I watch the kind teacher alongside the funny boy)

20 x 20 x 3 x 20 = 24,000 plus

20 x 20 x 7 x 3 x 20 = 168,000 plus

20 x 20 x 7 x 3 x 20 x 7 = 1,176,000

Running Total 1,827,200

What if we were to learn a few expressions (eg It’s true, I see the funny boy / On the contrary I see the funny boy)

We can qualify every sentence we have made with these expressions…so now we can have

4 x 1,827,200 = 7,308,800

That’s over 7 million sentences from about 60 words. That is why Einstein said such growth is the most powerful force in nature…and YOU CAN harness it.

It’s for this reason that KLOO builds its decks of cards around word grouping. Indeed the examples above all come from our Deck 1’s in French, Italian and Spanish which are all about People. Our other decks cover “Eating and Drinking”, “Places” and “Everyday Objects”.

The beauty of KLOO is that you can instantly build sentences just like the ones above by following KLOO’s unique colour coding system. You also learn words as you play using discovery learning. See how it works and check out our ranges.

KLOO is the UK’s No 1 Best Selling Foreign Language Game.

See how easy it is to make millions of sentences with KLOO cards here:

Posted in Build Vocabulary, Educational Games, language games, Language Learning | 2 Comments

Video Game v Board Game – how board games fought back

35 years ago I played Binatone Tennis…now look at what I play

Virtual games v Board Games

A ground breaking game in its day

One day my father came back with the latest in screen game technology…an amazing game that could plug into your television and allowed you to play tennis – Binatone Tennis. The screen became blank with a line down the middle…and then each player had a small bat that consisted of a line like this |. You could move the bat up and down to hit a ball which looked like a full stop…..we played for hours and we thought it was amazing and brilliant.

By today’s standards of course it was prehistoric. How could something so basic be so gripping…so entertaining?

It was new! We hadn’t seen the like of this type of game before. Now each generation of new game ups the ante. Today, we have insanely intelligent and responsive games that even blur the difference between virtual reality and just plain old reality.

Here’s the weird thing though…board games are making a comeback

People still like board games

Board Game cafes have sprung up

For a long time board games were in decline. It seemed that “The Video Game killed the Board Game Star”….except it didn’t. Board games have more than bounced back. In 2009 board game sales started to rise again – and have been doing so every year since. In recent years, board game cafe’s have sprung up (who could have guessed that?). In Essen, Germany, there is a board game convention which attracts 160,000 visitors in 4 days. Meanwhile, on game forums, gamers are saying that they prefer board games. A recent contributor discussed how he has recently returned to board games saying: “Somehow board games have something “special”. A thematic boardgame feels like reading an interactive book where you can be a part of the story.”

As a games designer I have sensed some of this move back to board games. Parents and teachers are embracing real games again – turning away from screens. One teacher stated on facebook that her students “Beg to play KLOO”. Those are strong words and indicate a a strong desire above the norm…but why?

I think its two things.

Firstly, board games are the new new. When I played Binatone tennis 35 years ago it was new…board games were old hat. Now we have reached screen time saturation and the new entertainment system is in fact board games…it’s now novel and interactive and fun. The new generations love them.

Then there’s something else though which will I think will stand it in good stead – for ever really. Board games are more social, more friendly and in a human sense more intimate. You sit across from one another, you get to see each others facial expressions, you have eye to eye contact. It’s more personal…..and real! And more enjoyable for all that.

Long live the board game.

Our board game KLOO won ToyTalk’s Best Board Game of the Year…we’re very proud of that. And you get to learn languages too as you play. We’ve never been really tempted to turn it into a video game though. My instinct is (and I could be wrong) is that learning a language is a social game and it’s best suited to playing with each other around a board.

Here’s our best selling Race to Paris game board. There are, even if we say it ourselves, some clever language learning principles inside the game. Teachers and parents and indeed self learners are appreciating that games can be used to educate while having fun…so it never feels like work.

Learn French Board Game

Turning Learning French into a Game – KLOO’s Race to Paris

Posted in board games, Educational Games, French Games, mfl games | 1 Comment

The many surprising benefits of playing board games

WHAT CAN THE HUMBLE BOARD GAME DO FOR ME?

Those old board games are sooo last century right?

Learn French Game for adults

Adults learn French by playing KLOO’s Race to Paris Board Game

Well no, they’re really not. Board games bring lots of benefits that on-line games and screen games just can’t. And some of those benefits are really quite surprising.

At KLOO, we make language games to help people learn a second language as they play. The game is increasingly being adopted by schools and the feedback from young students is fascinating. Teachers are often taken aback by the enthusiasm a board game can have on a generation that is used to smart phones, video-on-demand and touch screen technology. Surely a lowly board game involving moving plastic cars around a game board isn’t going to cut it? Again, no. They love it…..I mean really love it. These are just a few genuine quotes from teachers:

“My students beg to play KLOO” MFL Teacher, Canada

“Much laughter was heard, disturbing my head of department who congratulated me on making French so much fun” French Teacher, UK

“I’ll often say to my students, “What would you like to do?” and 9 times out of 10, the answer is KLOO!! Students love it” MFL Teacher, UK

Naturally we are pleased to hear this and it is flattering. But I would suggest that the format of board games in general bring added benefits which stir up enthusiasm.

Learning to Speak Spanish without embarrassment

Play and learn together though board games

They’re Social: Board games help people to interact, socialise and have fun. Fluctuating fortunes and competing for bragging rights keep people engaged and on their toes, looking for ways to win and outwit opponents. In our KLOO games, players have to learn words and build sentences to power little motor cars.

Suddenly, building vocabulary doesn’t sound so boring!

Breaks down barriers: Another aspect of board games is that they break down barriers and give people lots to talk about…often people will relax and start to tease and joke with

Family Board Game of KLOO

Board games bring families together

one another. People who are absolute strangers can quickly become comfortable with each other because they are, after all, just playing. For learning a language this aspect of board games is terrific. Many teachers tell me about how many adult learners can be very self conscious of speaking a second language out loud for fear of mispronouncing. When playing KLOO, however, they quickly forget their inhibitions and start making sentences and talking out loud within a few minutes.

Family board games

Family board games

Hands on reality: With board games it’s away from screens with their distracting alerts. Instead it’s hands-on, tactile and fun and totally absorbing. You enter a different world. Moving the dog or hat around a Monopoly game board feels good. Twisting real cards feels good. The virtual world is great too….but the real thing is better.

Motivating: When you can see the people you are competing against (not an avatar) – it becomes very motivating. You want to do well because honour is at stake. Whenever I play chess on-line I am never that bothered about losing to some faceless opponent. When I play opposite a real person, however, I am much more focused on winning. With KLOO too, people up their game, learn more words, build longer sentences, because they want to win. Board games are brilliant at tapping into our competitive instincts.

KLOO language game

Schools use KLOO Board Games

Child development: One of the great aspects of playing board games is that we learn on multiple levels. This is especially beneficial to children who learn key skills such as the principles of cause and effect; social skills and how to behave; spatial awareness; critical thinking and the ability to focus for longer. The latter point is hugely important with attention spans are in decline as we get hit by so many messages in our everyday lives.

Board Games are good for mental health

Board Games help fight dementia

Mental Health benefits: Research conducted in France and reported in the British Medical Journal (thank you for sharing) on the impact of board games on mental health shows that regular playing of board games helped reduce the incidence of dementia as well as reduce risks of depression. The report stated: “playing board games could be a particularly relevant way to preserve cognition and to prevent cognitive decline or dementia.” Interestingly they also stated: “Other stimulating leisure activities like reading, travelling, gardening, doing odd jobs or playing sports do not offer the same advantages and ease of practice.” That’s pretty compelling! Go Board Games!

A humble board game has a place in this century – and probably every century. Play that game, have fun and get a load of benefits thrown in.

Board Game of the Year

KLOO – BEST BOARD OR CARD GAME

If you are interested in learning a language while playing a game, we suggest you take a look at KLOO. We are a multi-award winning game. You can play Race to Madrid to learn Spanish and Race to Paris to learn French. It has actually won many awards including Toytalk’s Best Board and Card Game of the Year and the Academic’s Choice Award for educational value. That basically means you’ll have a lot of fun learning a language.

You can check out our range of board games below. Have fun!

KLOO Learn French GamesLearn Italian GamesTEFL Games for teaching English

KLOO Learn Spanish Language Games

 

Learn French with KLOO board games

A KLOO Board game for learning French

Posted in board games, kids games, language games, mfl games, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments