Learn as You Play
The Poetry Game decks are designed so you learn about and celebrate the language and culture as you play. Each deck can be used by novices, language learners, and fluent speakers.
See details below for information about the “flavor” and special features of each deck, as well as resources for learning more about each language.
Spanish Poetry Game
El Juego de Poesía en Español
The Spanish Poetry Game is designed to help players taste and rejoice in the rich diversity of the Spanish language. You do not need to know Spanish to play; it works from beginner to fluent level.
The game includes words from Spain, the Americas, Nauhuatl, and other indigenous languages, as well as words with roots in Arabic.
We feature “off the beaten track” and fun words that range from slang to botanical terms: el escincle, la chamba, and la zarzamora.
The Spanish Poetry Game assumes you’ll have someone playing with you who knows how to pronounce the sounds of the Spanish alphabet, which is similar to but not exactly the same as the English alphabet. If you do not know the Spanish alphabet, start here:
Recoursos Para Jugar El Juego en Espanol
- Instrucciones en Español para el Juego de Poesia en Español (Spanish Instructions for the Poetry Game)
- Notas para Maestros para usar El Juego de Poesía en Español. (Tips for Teachers who want use the Spanish Poetry Game in Class)
Are you feeling inspired to learn more Spanish?
- Online Spanish Learning
- Learn Spanish while you Volunteer (article by Poetry Game Chief Poetic Officer, Zahara Heckscher)
Footnotes for Spanish Poetry Game. The definitions in the Spanish Poetry Game are adapted from the following sources: The Free Dictionary, SpanishDict, UrbanDictionary, Travels of Adam, Wikipedia en Espanol, and our friends at Google translate. We had a fabulous team that helped with the development of the deck, staring with intern Sophia Sandoval-Ferris, who came up with the initial list of words and definitions. Further assistance with editing and translation was provided by Marcial Candido, Amy Markowitz, Yael Flusberg, Rachel Heckscher, Angelica Landauro Friedman, and Melinda St. Louis.
The Yiddish Poetry Game is part of the renaissance of Yiddish that is fighting back against the threats to the language. Many millions of Yiddish speakers were killed in the Holocaust, and now, with the exception of some pockets of Orthodox Jews in the US and Israel, most Yiddish speakers are elderly.
Some say the death of a language is a form of genocide, as a language contains not just words but also the culture and embedded memory of a people. Therefore, we see playing the Yiddish Poetry Game as an act against genocide. We encourage you to play whether you are Jewish or not.
Yiddish has many variations, but the organization YIVO has established a standard spelling, English transliteration, and grammar. The words in our game are YIVO approved, thanks to the help of YIVO Staff Member Eddy Portnoy.
In each Yiddish card in the Poetry Game, you will find the spelling in the Yiddish version of Hebrew letters. If you read Hebrew, you’ll be able to read them, but you may find some little surprises in Yiddish spelling, which is a bit different from biblical or modern Hebrew. Each card also has the English pronunciation, translation, and fun facts about the word. We included a few words widely known in English, but focused on lesser known words, with a mix of humor and seriousness, secular and spiritual, Hebrew and European roots, and some hybrids, such as “vilde chai” which means wild beast or overactive child. Even fluent speakers might learn some new vocabulary. We hope playing will inspire you to learn more Yiddish.
Information about Yiddish
- YIVO Basics: What is Yiddish?
- Details on Yiddish language (PDF)
- Yiddish in American Labor Union History
Training for Trainer Materials
- Sample Agenda for Poetry Game workshops (to adapt for workshops)
- Handout: Evaluation Form for Poetry Game workshops
- Handout: Yiddish Poetry Game Instructions for Workshops (same as instructions in the box, but it is often helpful for every participant to have a copy)
- Handout: Springtime Jazz Poem in Yiddish and English by Ezra Korman, for optional use during the workshop
- Handout: Templates for Participants with writing or cognitive challenges (a simple way for people to write poetry) so all can participate
- Tips for Facilitators of Poetry Game workshops
Are you feeling inspired to learn more Yiddish?
- The Yiddish Book Center. Offers a plethora of online and in person workshops and a lovely center in Western Massachusetts.
- YIVO. Based in New York, YIVO offers an extraordinary wealth of online resources and in-person classes. YIVO scholar Eddy Portnoy helped develop the Yiddish Poetry Game.
- Yiddish Pop. Child-friendly free online Yiddish learning.
- Yiddish Farm. Learn Yiddish Live Sustainably.
- Online Yiddish Dictionary. Start with English or Yiddish.
Footnotes for the Yiddish Poetry Game: Many people helped with the development of the Yiddish Poetry Game. Julie Brown created the first version as a MA student at the University of Maryland. Our main Yiddish guru was Eddy Portnoy of YIVO. Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, author of The Education of a Dafodil, assisted. Miriam Isaacs lent a hand and spiritual support. Funding came from the Reb David Schneyer Discretionary Fund of Kehila Kedasha. We were inspired by Max Ticktin of blessed memory.
The Arabic Poetry Game
The Arabic Poetry Game was created to humanize Arabic speaking people among those who do not know Arabic, to share some of the rich history and literary tradition of the Arabic world, to help Arabic language learners, and to contribute to the flourishing of Arabic poetry.
Arabic is spoken by over 400 million people in countries from Morocco to Egypt to Yemen and is the language of prayer and liturgy for about 1.7 Muslims around the world. But not all Arabic speakers are Muslim; some are Christian, Jewish, Baha’i and many other religions.
The Arabic Poetry Game can be played in English or entirely in Arabic. We hope it inspires you to learn more, and to celebrate the Arabic language and Arabic speaking people.
We also hope that communities in the US and Europe that are welcoming
Arabic-speaking refugees will use the game to learn some Arabic, help refugees feel welcome, and assist with English language learning.
هل تتحدث العربية
- Arabic Instructions for the Arabic Poetry Game تعليمات باللغة العربية
Want to learn some Arabic Basics?
Inspired to learn more?
The English Poetry Game
For Native English Speakers, English Classes, and for Teaching English Language Learners
We’ve played the English Poetry Game with children as young as 8 (Ok, they were precocious, but most 10 year olds can do well with it), in classes from 5th grade and up, college students, adults, and seniors.
Custom and Future Language Versions of the Poetry Game
We’d love to create more versions in more languages. We also will help other organizations that want to create their own language decks. We have a special interest in helping people use the Poetry Game to assist with the preservation of rare and threatened languages, especially Hawaiian and Native American Languages. You can even make your own version; we’ll provide a free template for educational and non-commercial uses, and reasonable partnership agreements for other collaborations.
Please contact us if you have an interest in another language version of the game.Buy Any Language Poetry Game