It’s good for your Mandarin Chinese language progress if you immerse yourself in the Chinese language. Graded readers, podcasts, movies or music, and even games! Games to learn Chinese are plentiful and are a perfect supplement for online Chinese language courses for kids. (Click here if you’re looking for video games.)
Chinese learning games for kids
There are plenty of language games out there. Kloo is a perfect example. But there aren’t many language learning games for Mandarin Chinese, so you’ll have to innovate a bit yourself.
‘Battles’ for learning Chinese
You can ‘battle’ with your child who can name the most colors or animals in Mandarin, or for advanced learners, who knows the most Chinese idioms. You can play ‘Whispers‘ in Chinese with a group, find many other simple games and simply use the Chinese language.
Using board games for learning Chinese
You can use board games not made for language learning and turn them into a Chinese learning game: the right answer can only be given in Chinese. Think about a game as Mastermind, and just change the rule that the color names must be given in Chinese. For sure you know how to say blue and red in Chinese after the game.
You can also tweak games. You can tape questions to Jenga bricks, and when a player has successfully taken the brick, they need to answer the question. You can also make your own board game, such as the people of CreativeChinese have done:
Spot it! to learn Chinese
A great game is Spot It! in which you flip two cards and need to spot the single item that is in both the cards. See the below image: the right answer would be ‘balloon’ but in Chinese, the answer would be ‘气球Qìqiú’. Is this a fun way to learn Chinese or what? You could also play this game with a language partner, for instance, you as a Mandarin learner needs to give the answer in Chinese, while your opponent, maybe a Chinese local, would give the answer in English.
There are many games you can play in this way, another suitable one is Sequence for Kids. Simply play the game as you would in your own language, but then play it in Mandarin: your children will learn animal names super fast this way.
Advanced Chinese learners can play games like Cluedo, Werewolves, Monopoly, or Settlers of Catan totally in Mandarin. That last one is also available in Simplified Chinese.
Twenty questions for learning Mandarin
Write a word on a card (for instance ‘黄瓜Huángguā’ (cucumber), and your opponent has 20 questions to figure out the correct answer. If it’s too easy you can reduce the questions to ten. Questions could be:
- 这是一个人还是一个东西？Zhè shì yīgè rén háishì yīgè dōngxī? (Is it a person or an object?)
- 这个东西可以吃吗？Zhège dōngxī kěyǐ chī ma? Shì ròu háishì sùcái? (Can you eat this object?)
- 是肉还是素材？Zhège dōngxī kěyǐ chī ma? Shì ròu háishì sùcái? (Is it meat or vegetable?)
In the same way you can play hangman or other riddle games to teach your kids Mandarin.
So see, whether on a tabletop or a video game, it’s definitely possible (and fun) to learn Chinese playing games.