Traditional French games are a great way to learn the language in an entertaining and effective way. They can help you practice your speaking skills, and even your writing skills, while having fun and socializing. Depending on your preferences, your level and the specific skill you wish to develop, you can choose between different spelling, guessing and card games. Unlike video games, they can often be played with little to no material. Most are available either as a board game or as an app, and some can even be homemade, with just a few sheets of paper and a pen. Here is our selection of seven games to practice French.
Learn languages at your pace
Even if you’re adept at Scrabble in English, you will need to draw on your knowledge of spelling and vocabulary in order to play the game in French. Depending on your level, you may make it easier or more difficult for yourself by adapting the rules. For instance, you may follow the official rule and allow verb conjugation, which will give you more words to put on the board and help you practice verbs in different tenses. Alternatively, you may make it harder on yourself and not allow it… It’s worth noting that letters don’t always have the same value in the English and the French version of the game, which reflects how commonly a particular letter is used in each language.
2. Le Pendu
Le Pendu is the French name for Hangman. Like Scrabble, it’s one of the best games to practice your vocabulary and spelling in French, including the French alphabet. One added benefit is that all you need to play the game is a piece of paper and a pen. Alternatively, the game is also available as a free app on Google Play.
Alongside those traditional word games in French, Taboo comes with a bit of a twist. The aim is to have your partner guess a keyword in a limited time, without mentioning a specific list of forbidden words. As such, the game requires a higher level of French. Even if you’re on the other side and have to guess the keyword, you will need to rely on your knowledge of vocabulary and your sense of deduction to win. In terms of resources, you have the choice between buying the board game or downloading the free app.
Like Taboo, Contrario is a word guess game for more intermediate and even advanced learners. Rather than just a word, you need to guess an expression that has been changed into a twisted version of it, through the use of synonyms or opposites. For instance, une pommade lunaire (a moon ointment) is really meant to be une crème solaire (a sun cream), while des pleurs d’alligator (alligator cries) replaces des larmes de crocodile (crocodile tears). Each card of the game contains five expressions and you need to guess as many as you can within the allotted time.
One of the most popular French party games around, Pictionary tests both your knowledge of vocabulary and your drawing skills. You can buy the board game to play it properly. Or you can make up your own DIY version by putting up a whiteboard and preparing a list of words or expressions to draw and guess.
6. Qui suis-je ?
As the name suggests, Qui suis-je ? (who am I?) is about finding the name of a famous French person by asking a series of closed questions (to which you can only answer by yes or no), such as :
Est-ce que je suis une femme ? (Am I a woman?)
Est-ce que je suis un.e artiste ? (Am I an artist?)
Est-ce que j’habite en France ? (Do I live in France?)
Est-ce que j’ai les cheveux blonds ? (Do I have blond hair?)
The game is great if you’re a beginner and want to practice these types of questions in French along with vocabulary to describe character and physical appearance. You can also play the alternative version, que suis-je ? (what am I?), with objects, animals, professions or just about any theme.
7. Mille Bornes
Une borne used to be a kilometer marker on the side of French roads. By extension, it’s also a vernacular word for kilometer. Mille Bornes (a thousand kilometer markers) is a French card game on the theme of driving, in which you need to accumulate a thousand kilometers markers while preventing your opponents from doing so. It’s a great way to learn the vocabulary of the French road system and signs.
Learning French is all fun and games!
Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, our selection of seven French games gives you plenty of choices if you wish to practice your speaking, writing and comprehension skills.. As an added benefit, playing these games may also give you an opportunity to learn more about one of the many fascinating French-speaking cultures.
Learn languages at your pace
Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries, such as hospitality and travel, as well as health and well-being. Settled down in London since the end of her university years, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.