You’re ready to build connections while living or traveling abroad but you get nervous when it’s time to speak.

That’s completely normal. It still happens to me sometimes and I’ve lived in Spain for 10 years now!

If you read the title of this post, you already know the solution I’m going to suggest is … GAMES!

The top 5 reasons to try learning a game next time you travel abroad:

  1. Games eliminate the need for deep discussions

Deep discussions can feel scary and awkward. Did I say the wrong word? What if I pronounce something incorrectly? Don’t worry! These feelings are normal. Be sure to check out this post on pronunciation confidence.

A game, however, removes that element of fear and replaces it with a distraction. Any small talk you end up having comes up naturally and silences or errors are unimportant because you have the game to focus on. Yay!

  1. Small speaking opportunities

While playing a game you aren’t interested in having a deep 20-minute discussion, which allows you to relax and enjoy speaking. Any unimportant small talk that occurs between rolls of the dice is perfect language practice!

Besides, the whole reason you’re playing a game is to put yourself in a pressure-free speaking situation. You’re not there to have an in-depth debate on climate change or bullfighting anyway.

  1. So much new vocabulary repetition!

Now, I know what you’re thinking – but I’m not going to be practicing much speaking or learn anything new if I’m not having long conversations. I have wonderful news for you though! Not only will you still have speaking opportunities, but you are also going to have an intensive vocabulary lesson.

Games tend to involve a lot of repetition and commands and you know what that means! There will be a number of repeated phrases you’ll have memorized by the end of the game just from listening to the other players.

  1. You become one of the group

Games are my favorite way to feel and live the culture I’m in. Playing a game with someone invites you into their special world – a world where you can laugh and share memorable moments.

On top of that, you get to see many different sides of people throughout the game. They’ll also get to know a different side of you, like just how competitive you are. Getting to know people through games is a natural, laidback way to connect with each other.

  1. It’s fun!

The biggest bonus of playing games is simply that it’s a fun thing to do. How could you say no to that!

What games can I play?

A couple of popular board games you can be excited to learn and play in Spain include Parchís and La Oca. 

You may also be surprised that some Spanish games are games you already know and enjoy playing. Games like Monopoly, for example, that Blanca and I talk about growing up playing in the following video.

I want you to enjoy your time in Spain or any foreign country you travel or move to! So, the next time you’re in Spain and there’s a lull in the conversation when you’re at a friend’s house, ask if anyone can teach you a game like Parchís. You’ll love it!

What game would you teach someone visiting your country?

Vickie Kelty is an English speaking skills teacher originally from Nebraska, USA. She specializes in using games to help English language learners speak with ease and enjoyment. You can find her at or follow her @yesstilltalking on IG where she posts regularly.