How to play UNO in Spanish

What game interests people from age 2 to 92?  UNO!  It’s fun, and it gives you an opportunity to improve your Spanish skills.

Announce the numbers on the cards as they go face up.  Sometimes announce the colors too.

This should be a fun listening activity for your children.  They will soak up the language.  You can use UNO to teach more than just colors and numbers.

Say some Spanish phrases before and after the game, like

¿Quieres jugar conmigo? – Do you want to play with me?
Buen trabajo.  – Good job.
Timothy Ganó. – Timothy won.
Guarda las cartas. –  Put the cards away.

I know that you have a lot on your mind already, so it’s easy to forget to say these things.  Take the advise of a wonderful YouTube channel called Chocolate Sushi Roll, and write a few phrases you plan to say on a little ‘cheat sheet’ and post it on a wall by where you play UNO. If you play UNO frequently, you’ll soon find that you aren’t even looking at your ‘cheat sheet.’ When you don’t need it anymore, you can throw it away.

Here are some phrases for your second ‘cheat sheet.’

Me toca a mi – It’s my turn.
Te toca a ti – It’s your turn.
Le toca a él – It’s his turn.
¿A quién le toca? – Whose turn is it?

These phrases will work for any card game.

If you want to learn more vocabulary for playing UNO, watch YouTube videos of games, or of explanations on how to play.  Post a sheet cheat for that new vocabulary, use it, and once you don’t need the cheat sheet anymore, you can take it down.

Can you find any native speakers to play with?  Using your new vocabulary with native speakers will make you feel so accomplished, and you can learn a lot by listening to them.

Some final thoughts

Be in a good mood when you play.  Don’t make your kids say the colors or numbers when they don’t want to.  Just listening is enough.  Don’t turn it into a quiz.  You will find other ways to motivate them to speak, don’t force it now.  Don’t show any disappointment if they mispronounce something or say something incorrectly.  Be a friendly encourager.  People learn languages best when they feel comfortable, not pressured, annoyed or embarrassed.  Let this be a nice time with your children.  Lighten up. Have FUN.

There is no need to translate what is obvious, so don’t say any numbers or colors in English.  Use gestures to add a little more context, and that should be enough to convey the approximate meaning of what you are saying.  It’s better to let your kids start learning through immersion, than to teach them that everything has to be translated for them.  They don’t need to memorize that ‘cartas means cards’ and ‘conmigo means with me.’ Kids (and adults) are made to acquire language naturally, not to memorize translations.  If your children are cool with learning through context, they are going to learn faster and better than they could ever hope to learn by memorizing translations.

Two year olds really can play UNO. Sure, they won’t see the difference between 6 and 9 (And who could blame them?) and they need to put all their cards face down on the floor ( because they can’t hold them in their little hands). They’ll need some help to select the proper cards to play, but two year olds can play. They can get surprisingly good at the game if they get enough practice.  And they look so adorable playing it!  If you have a child under 3, you are lucky.

Check out Chocolate Sushi Roll’s channel.  Tell her I sent you.

And here is a video about UNO from a native speaker.  It’s a good source of vocab for ‘cheat sheets.’


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