How long for a beginner to make a sentence in French or Spanish?

Education Personal

If you don’t know the meanings of words – how long does it take to arrange them to make a sentence?

Less than 20 seconds.

Even for an absolute beginner?


OK If you don’t know the meanings of words – how long does it take to learn how to make tens of thousands of sentences in a foreign language?

Less that 20 seconds.




Using KLOO’s unique award-winning colour card system. Learners love them..

Read the image below…that’s how long it takes. I can read it in 15 seconds.

Or you can also watch the cartoon video further below.

And the spin off is that you will learn the words at least 200% faster because they are in context. That’s really smart – and fun.

How to make sentences and phrases in French and Spanish:


KLOO uses European Community Registered Designed cards to make language fast easy and fun. It was developed by a professional games designer working with MFL teachers and language experts. In 2011 it won 6 major international awards including ToyTalk Best Board of Card Game and Dr Toy Best Classic Toy. MFL teachers are finding that their classes love playing KLOO (and learn fast).

KLOO French Games

KLOO Spanish Games

KLOO MFL Games in French and Spanish

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Getting reluctant MFL students to learn fast and have fun – there is a way!


Winning students over to MFL!

For MFL teachers the aim is to get their students to learn a second language. Hook or by crook.

It is natural then for teachers to want to explain why learning a language is so important. The problem is that, although learning a language bestows huge benefits on the learner, some students seem impervious to persuasion and are, well, disinterested – and no amount of persuasion will move them. Many teachers (and parents) have told me how hugely frustrating this can be.

This is what a reluctant MFL student hears when you explain the many benefits of language learning:

“An important subject (blah, blah); good grades (blah, blah); career prospects (blah, blah); cultural understanding (blah, blah); useful on holidays (blah, blah and more blah).”

Students: What did she say? Is this lesson nearly over?

That seems terribly cruel – but unfortunately true because I was one of those 13 year old linguaphobes who could not wait for German to finish (sorry Mr Dobson!). My love of learning a language came after school and indeed after university. It was only when I married an Italian that I saw the light.

What to do?

If we can’t persuade them – we can entice them into learning a language!

This is where games kick in. A well constructed game can essentially lure the student into learning – without them feeling like its work. Let me explain.

I have been involved in sport and games for many years (I ran the 1995 World Chess Championships – see picture). Over that time I have seen countless times how games will motivate, energize and encourage players to excel beyond the norm.  The trick that games seem to do, is change the objective and tap into our innate competitive instinct.

Games have the same affect on me. I, for instance, despise running as a means of keeping fit – I mean really detest it. And yet I will run like an idiot to win a game of squash. This game of hitting a small ball between four walls, taps into some deep rooted instinct to try to win. We are all susceptible to it – and if harnessed, can be an amazingly powerful learning tool.

Harnessing the power of a MFL language game

With a language learning game, such as KLOO’s Race to Paris, the aim of the game is to reach Paris first – not learn a language. However, you get there by making French sentences and learning words as fast as possible to score points. In this way, learning a language becomes the means to winning the game.

If you do introduce a game like KLOO into the classroom or home, I urge you to sit back and watch the power of games in motion. It’s not that all of a sudden your students have miraculously fallen in love with language (if only it were true!). No – it’s because learning a language enables them to achieve an objective that is important to them at that moment – winning the game.

Often after a game both the students and teachers are taken aback by how much can be learned in a short period of time…and that it was it was fun. In fact not like work at all – just playing.

Careful – this learning a language gig might become a habit.

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Games are not just for the playing fields – they’re for the classroom


Let the Games begin – in your class!

With all the euphoria around the Olympics and the renewed focus on the benefits of kids playing sports, we should not forget that games not just for the playing fields.

Games are important in the classroom too. They can play a hugely important and effective part in a child’s education and have in-built advantages to many other educational materials. When we play games our senses are heightened and as a result:

  • We focus more
  • We are more alert
  • We try harder
  • We have fun

Of course a  game for school has to be more than just stimulating and good fun. It has to be educational.

A Language Olympics in the Classroom

So for learning languages you could, for instance, have a game which is about learning words and making sentences in order to score points and race your car to Paris or Madrid. This is essentially what KLOO is – a point scoring race! But the way you get there is by learning a language. Compete, race, overtake! First one to the capital wins.

As a games designer, I initially created KLOO to help make learning a language fast, easy and fun for my own children. Teachers who have taken the game into the classroom have been genuinely taken aback by the reaction of their children – much as I was by my own. That is the power of games working in the classroom

Take a look at our Amazon collection. Happy, enthusiastic kids learning a language fast from £12.99.

Click here to find out more about our MFL Games for the classroom 

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Don’t be fooled – speaking English is not enough

Education Landing Personal

The world wants to speak English – but don’t be fooled

I am off the the Frankfurt Book Fair on Tuesday to exhibit KLOO Language Games. Have you ever been to one of these international fairs? The Frankfurt Book Fair is huge – about 250,000 people will attend the show. That’s the population of Iceland walking around 11 colossal halls.

From a language point of view two things strike me. Firstly, the standard of English for whom English is not their first language is truly astonishing. Nationality after nationality turn up at my stand and converse in fantastic English: articulate, expressive and confident. Learning a language for many Europeans is natural and their ability to switch to English when I am present both impresses and, to some extent, embarrasses me in equal measure.

The second aspect is their hunger to learn English. We will be exhibiting our new “Race to London” game, which teaches people to speak English, and we anticipate a lot of interest in the rights to the game from lots of countries. Language acquisition is a rite of passage for many young Europeans.

English speakers beware

Unfortunately, many mono-lingual English speakers draw the wrong conclusion from the keenness of others to learn their language. They mistakenly believe that as they already know English, there is no value in learning another language.

From almost every perspective this is wrong: from being a citizen of the world to understanding other cultures; from mental health benefits to enjoying better holidays; languages have immense value to those that learn them.

OK these are “soft benefits” and I can almost hear people saying – “that’s nice but how does it affect my wallet?”

How about this?

Having a language is good for business and your career

Did you know that those who speak languages have better career prospects and can expect to be paid better? This year the CBI stated that more than a third of British businesses hire people for their language skills, but that they are increasingly forced to recruit from overseas to meet demand. Think about it – two candidates who are equal in every way – except one is bilingual. Who would you choose?

In the meantime a Personnel Today report showed that the average wage for language graduates is higher than other graduates in areas such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering after as little as 3 years. Added to that a recent poll of 500 companies, conducted for CILT, the National Centre for Languages, revealed that one in four said the ability to speak a second language would give a candidate the edge when applying for a job.

The jobs market is competitive and if you want an edge – get a language!

Spanish and French Language Games

If you want to learn Spanish or French then have a look at KLOO MFL Games available at or on Amazon. Winner of 6 major awards and embraced by teachers and also families. Our games embed important language learning principles that enable learners to make sentences within seconds and use Discovery Learning to build vocabulary. As a result, learning French, Spanish or indeed English becomes fast, easy and fun.

Take a look at why building vocabulary with KLOO games is almost effortless:


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The MFL Classroom of the future


Cutting edge technology for a chat?

KLOO has been exhibiting at the Frankfurt Book Fair since Wednesday. At the weekend it gets a bit quieter so I took the opportunity to look around some of the other exhibition halls. I noticed one had people exhibiting the “Classroom of the Future”. There were some very expensive pieces of kit in there. Some of the equipment would not look out of place on the bridge on the Starship Enterprise.

It made me wonder what the ideal MFL classroom would be like. Well I listed some of things the technology should enable a student to do:

  • It should help students build vocabulary through discovery learning. This is a difficult process to replicate – but essentially students should receive the information (translations) when they are looking for it rather than providing vocabulary lists for them to learn by rote.
  • It should provide an intelligent system to help students understand how words work together to make sentences. Sentence building should become intuitive and easy.
  • It should make students speak their sentences out loud. Too much learning is on screen and on the page but not actually spoken.
  • It should be incentivising – create scores, targets and achievements. People like to measure their progress and be rewarded for success.
  • It should be engrossing and retain attention.
  • It should simulate real situations as if interacting with real people. That is after all what language is for!
  • It should, if possible, be fun.

That’s not a bad wish list and I suppose technology will get there……but I wonder at the cost (don’t we all). I also wonder in the case of languages, in particular, if it is all necessary?

I mean we get all of the above with KLOO at a cost of £29.99.

KLOO is a language board game, unashamedly low tech and very inexpensive in the scheme of things. It is also a multi-award winning game, loved by nearly everyone who plays and a great way to learn a language.

Our love of technology is quite understandable but it is not always the answer – and maybe especially so in the case of language which is the art of communication between humans. It reminds me of the way people (myself included!) often email others who are working round the corner. Emails fly back and forth until a small book is written. And yet if we just popped around the corner, we could just talk and sort it out in seconds. Old fashioned talking! Who would have thought of such a thing!

Anyway if you are interested in KLOO Games you can buy on Amazon or at our KLOO store .You can learn French, Spanish or English. See below how easy it is to make sentences using KLOO’s uniquely colour coded cards:


Brighten up MFL lessons with Language Fun


Spanish lessons brought to life with MFL Games

Sprinkle a little fun into lessons for language learning to grow

Even now, after being immersed in language for some time, I look at how language is communicated and wonder at how difficult it all seems. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, agreement, tenses, person, form, gender, negatives, subjunctive, conditional….Oh my! When we started learning languages as an infant it was fun, even a favourite lesson. We sang songs, played games and were never troubled by a gerund. But then, at about the age of eight, Spanish lessons get serious – and difficult. And many children wonder whether they can get good grades and should give it up. Many do.

There is no doubt MFL teachers have a difficult task. Spanish or indeed any language cannot, after all,  be taught in just a few songs. But what if you were to discover that there is a new game that teachers are introducing up and down the country with amazing results? A game in which children can rapidly build vocabulary and easily make sentences – even if they are beginners? Above all, a game which they love playing and makes Spanish fun just as it is getting more difficult?

KidsMontageAn Award Winning Spanish Game

This game won Toytalk Best Board Game of 2011 as well as a host of other awards. In fact KLOO has more awards than any other foreign language game – ever. Having said that, teachers are the best judge of the impact of KLOO in the classroom.

This is what some of them have said:

 “I discovered Kloo last year but really started to thoroughly use the game this Autumn Term with 2 of my classes and the word has spread: pupils (of all abilities) want to play that game.  I have been using it across the ability range and EVERYONE enjoyed it. My bottom set was able to build sentences following a strict colour code order while my top set reinvented the word order and went the creative way (much laughter was heard, disturbing my head of department who congratulated me on making language so much fun).  No more headache and a lot of fun!” Anouk B, MFL Teacher, Worth School, W Sussex

“I like to end my lessons with something fun and a bit different than the rest of the lesson. I’ll often say to my students, “What would you like to do? Reading, a song, noughts and crosses, hangman, Kloo?” and 9 times out of 10, the answer is Kloo!! Not only do students love it but it is also really useful and the progress they make when working from one deck to the next is brilliant.” Lindsay D, MFL Teacher, Northants

“My students get lost in this game. As they fly around the board they don’t even notice they are learning” Sarah O, MFL Teacher, Liverpool

“ I am a teacher of MFL and was curious about how useful it would actually be for the students in the new department I would be starting up so I tested it on my partner and relatives. Despite them having no knowledge of Spanish at all, they were able to pick up new words and create sentences accurately. I bought an entire class set for my students and often we play. I definitely recommend this product for in class and at home use – a fun way of developing vocabulary and language skills.” Isaac G, MFL Teacher, Ormesby School, Middlesborough

Spanish Lesson favourite: Race to Madrid

KLOO's Race to Madrid to learn Spanish

The Spanish version of KLOO is Race to Madrid – an old fashioned board and card game – and this generation of smart phone carrying students adore it. Watch what happens as they start playing. The keenness of even unenthusiastic language learners to make sentences, learn words and win the Race to Madrid often has teachers taken aback.

Take a look at KLOO. It delivers important elements of the syllabus as well bringing fun and laughter into the classroom. Of course you won’t know the impact until you try it – but here is the other bit of good news: Compared to other language tools and systems, KLOO is also amazing value. Games start from £12.99. The full Race to Madrid Game with four decks based on People, Eating and Drinking, Places and Everyday Objects is just £29.99. Hundreds of words, millions of sentences and lots of language fun in a box.

Want to see how it works?

See how to make Spanish sentences – up to 14 words long – in seconds using KLOO ColourSense Cards. Easy.


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The 5 Pillars of Language Learning

Education Personal

The 5 Best Ways to Learn a Language

pillars of language learningThere are important principles to learning a language. These principles are proven and will massively improve the rate at which you pick up a language. Conversely if you don’t use them, language learning becomes a hard slog to Moscow in Winter. Unfortunately many language resources, don’t use these principles and, as a result, learners mistakenly believe they have no aptitude for learning a language. It’s not true – you do! You just need to use the the right tools.

Here are the 5 pillars of language learning. We embedded these into our language learning games to help you learn a language faster, more easily and have fun! As a result you don’t have to study, write or work – just play and have fun.

SpanishMeanings1and21. The best way to build vocabulary is through DISCOVERY LEARNING. That is the natural way we learned our first language. Hardly any products use this. Discovery Learning involves discovering what you want to know, when you want to know it. Some scientists call this the “Aha! Moment” or “Eureka Moment”. It’s when you “get it”. This is how our brains are hot-wired to learn a language. See how in this 2 minute video.

2. FUN is a hugely important factor but often overlooked. Many people give up learning a language because it becomes a chore. However if you enjoy it, you do it more. The more you do it, the more you learn. KLOO won Best Board and Card Game of the Year for being fun.

FrenchPlayacard1-23. CONTEXT is crucial. By putting words into context you give your new vocabulary meaning. Meaningfulness is a central plank for getting words into your LONG TERM MEMORY. The best technique for learning words is to seek the meaning of a word (because you need to know it) and then use it in a sentence. Using it straight away helps to lock it in. See how in this 2 minute Video.

4. GENERATIVE means learning how words fit together to make a sentence rather than as unconnected words (as in vocabulary lists).  If you learn how to use words in sentences you rapidly build up the number of ways you can express yourself. With just one deck of KLOO® you can make nearly 3 million sentences.

Learn a language with UK's best board game

5. REAL PEOPLE means interacting with real people as opposed to learning from screens or audio devices. We learned our first language by talking with other people and all research shows this is the best way. Speaking with others will massively reduce your learning time.  The person you are interacting with does not have to be fluent. A friend, parent or colleague who is willing to interact and learn with you will make a big difference.

KLOO does all this to make learning a language fast and easy………….and fun.

Have fun learning a language!

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Which is the best language to learn – Mandarin or Spanish?

Education Landing Personal

The best language to learn – Spanish or Mandarin?

Personal circumstances may dictate which is the best language to learn. If your ethnic background is Chinese or Hispanic then of course you should learn the language closest to you.  This little report is really written for an English speaking monolingual looking to learn a second language.

Why Spanish and Mandarin? Because it usually boils down to these two. Learning any language is satisfying and bestows many benefits on the learner….but these two languages have in built global advantages and may even boost your career.

Why learn Mandarin?

Mandarin is often recommended as the best language to learn – and indeed many classes have sprouted up to meet the demand. The interest in the language is clear. China is becoming an economic powerhouse and, what is more, it is the most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion people.  That may be so but it is not quite as clear cut as that.

Mandarin is the main language of China but not the only one. There are 5 other major languages as well as many dialects. It is spoken in one other country – Taiwan. Evenso, it is estimated 800 million people speak it – and maybe even a billion worldwide. It is big!

Economically, China has a GDP of US$ 5500 billion and rising fast. If you want to be part of the economic future then learning Mandarin makes some sense. But lets take a closer look at Spanish.

Why learn Spanish?

Spanish may not be spoken by more people – but is certainly spoken in more countries and those countries are more dispersed. Spanish speaking countries include: Spain, Colombia, Peru, Venzuela, Ecuador, Guatamala, Cuba, Bolivia, Honduras, Paraguay, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Equatorial Guinea, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Domincan Republic, Nicarahua, and Uruguay. Wow, that’s 21 countries. Furthermore, Spanish is one of the 6 official languages of the USA with 44 million people – just as many as Spain!

If Spanish is spoken in more countries and indeed more continents, how does it fare economically? Setting aside the USA, no country above can compete with the GDP of China. But when we add them all together – and take 14% of the US economy (which approximates what the Hispanic community accounts for) the Spanish aggregated GDP is about $6000 billion.

Of course that may change. China is on a bull run. However  some of the Spanish speaking economies are rising fast and even faster than China. Who can say? As things stand you can make just as strong an economic case for learning Spanish as you can for Mandarin. So I am entering this as a draw – you could learn either language based purely on economics.

Which language is the easiest to learn: Spanish or Mandarin?

The last consideration is: which language is the easiest to learn? On this question Spanish wins hands down. English and Spanish have the same Latin roots and share many words. They have the same alphabet. This means you can make up every word you need to know, and have a stab at pronouncing them, using letters we are familiar with. In Mandarin there is a different symbol for each word. To be proficient you need to learn thousands of different symbols. Furthermore when speaking, intonation, plays a major part – much more so than in English. This is extremely difficult for an English speaker to master. Even the Chinese know that their language, as beautiful as it is, is very tough for a foreigner to learn.

So when we tot up the scores it goes like this:


Numbers of speakers                  0                             1

No. of countries                             1                            0

Accumulated GDP                        1/2                        1/2

Ease of learning                             1                            0

Totals                                             2.5                         1.5


Being as objective as I can, my recommendation for the English mono-lingual with no particular connection to China, is to choose Spanish. If all goes well, make Mandarin your third language!

Do you want to learn Spanish?

Learn Spanish words by labeling items

KLOO is a an multi-award winning language game that makes learning Spanish fast, easy and fun. You make sentences in Spanish to score points and race to Madrid. It never feels like studying – just playing and having fun.

KLOO was the 2011 winner of the ToyTalk Best Board and Card Game.

Check out easy it is to make a Spanish sentences with KLOO


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Language Learning and the secret ingredient

Education Personal Uncategorized

This underused technique can power your language learning

At the weekend my 12 year old daughter took part in her first duathlon – swimming followed by a run. She is not a regular athlete (belonging to a club) but wanted to give it a try. On the way to the event she was telling me how she wasn’t going to try that hard – just have fun and see how she does.

I watched her swim and then walked over to an adjacent field to be able to welcome her across the finish line. I could see she was more than just having fun – she was trying her level best and pushing herself for the best time. She did really well coming mid-table. It was especially good when we know that lots of the kids were from running and swimming clubs.

What was interesting was how Sasha changed from being indifferent to her performance to pushing herself hard. That’s the secret ingredient of games kicking in. As soon as you engage in a competition you up your performance, focus and try harder. Why? Because we like to measure ourselves against others and put in our best performances . We are hard wired to compete.

The same is true for whatever we turn into a game…kicking a ball,  running fast, jumping, playing chess, playing poker, spelling, memory and everything and anything.

It works amazingly well for language learning too!

An MFL Language Game that gets people learning fast

So if you want to get your class or child really motivated to learn a language – turn it into a game.

There is a new game that is growing in reputation and has already won more awards than any other foreign language game ever. If you play, you’ll see how the attitudes of language learners change before your eyes, becoming more focused, alive and motivated. Teachers and parents report this all the time – and it’s entirely predictable. Play and see.


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Learning a language like a Parrot will seriously slow you down

Education Landing Personal

French Language Learning Tips

Don't learn to talk French  like a Parrot!

We’re not parrots! So why do we still learn parrot fashion?

Independent research has shown that some, much used learning methods, are totally inefficient ways to learn a foreign language.

The main practice to be placed in the naughty corner is learning by rote (this includes vocabulary lists, phrase books and repetition exercises). Dr. H. Douglas Brown in his excellent book “Principles of Language Learning and Teaching” states that if you learn using such products and methods you are likely to suffer from “Systematic Forgetting” – a scary thought which roughly means “in one ear and out the other”. There are strong scientific reasons for this phenomenon.

Rote learning involves the mental storage of information that is random and unconnected with other bits of information. Its insular nature means it is unlikely to be retained – a bit like someone asking you to remember a random telephone number while they dial it. You hold on to the information to complete the task in hand. Within minutes, however, the information has been forgotten. Alas.

The best way to learn to speak a language is through Meaningful Interaction with humans!

On the other hand meaningful interaction is the best possible way to learn a foreign language. This means talking a foreign language with another person. That other person does not have to be fluent. They can be friend, member of the family or colleague who wants to learn the language too.

Creating Context is the key to learning a language

Dr Brown goes on to expand the point:

“Too many languages are filled with rote and practice that centres on surface forms. Most cognitive psychologists agree that the frequency of stimuli and the number of times spent practicing a form are not highly important in learning an item. What is important is meaningfulness. It appears that contextualized, appropriate, meaningful communication in the second language seems to be the best possible practice the second language learner could engage in”

French MFL Game that makes learning French Fast, Easy, Fun and Meaningful!

French panel jpegHow about a game that uses the principles that Dr Brown extols? That puts words in context, makes them meaningful and involves social interaction (not screen interaction).

Only KLOO does this. Multi-award winning language games that are growing fast in schools and at home. Check out the video below – it shows how easy it is to make French sentences with KLOO cards.

KLOO language games are also available for learning English, Spanish and soon – Italian.

Dr H. Douglas Brown is a professor of MA-TESOL at San Francisco State University and has written many books, articles and textbooks on language teaching.

KLOO is an award winning MFL resource in French and Spanish and a proven way to build vocabulary and make sentences in  a foreign language


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