A Fun Language Game for Older Kids and Adults

Image: ♥ MARIA ♥


Having a multicultural family can often include learning a new language.  As a former English as a Second Language teacher, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite games to play that helps improve language vocabulary.

The game is called BASTA! A simpler, budget-friendly version of  Scattergories.  It is best played with at least two players, preferably someone who is a fluent speaker of the language you are trying to learn.  Each player will need a pen/pencil 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 or hat.

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

As your language skills improve, you can add as many categories as you like.  When we play BASTA with our teenage nephews and nieces, 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
  • Celebrities
  • Song Title

One player picks a letter from the bowl and everyone must fill out one row on their card using words with the letter chosen, as fast as they can.  The words must be in the language that you are trying to learn.  The first person to complete the entire row must yell, “BASTA!”  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 category.  If two players wrote down the same answer, they both get 50 points for that category.  And if 3 or more players wrote down the same answer, they all receive 25 points.  If you use the five columns/categories, 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 using Spanish words.  The first letter drawn was “M”, followed by the letter “C”.



Remember…games and learning can be lots of fun!



  1. says

    This is funny because after you mentioned this game, I remembered playing it before in Spanish classes and it was a lot of fun.  I used to challenge my now-hubby to play with me, but it's been a while.  I'll definitely be playing this again!  Thanks for giving us the breakdown.  ;)