If you were in secondary school in the 1980s and your French teacher promised an end of term treat – chances are they might have pulled out the board game LANGOFUN. Described as The International Language Game and with a sub-title of “Race from Paris to Monte Carlo and improve your French as you go” you can see what they were aiming to do with this game. Make secondary school French exciting and glamorous. I’ll leave you to decide if they manage it or not.
The game board is arranged so that it looks like you are travelling from Paris to Monte Carlo and passing various other French towns and cities as you go. There are some squares on which you are penalised in some way and others where landing on them is to your advantage, but the game isn’t a straightforward roll and move. In fact there are no dice.
Spin the wheel
Instead players are given the excitement of a roulette wheel instead. Remember – we’re off to Monte Carlo, the home of famous casinos. Although, how age appropriate that is for second day school children is another question!
When a player spins the wheel they then have to call out the number that they have landed on in French to tell everyone which page of the “key book” their translation question is going to come from. LANGOFUN comes with two “key-books” which are basically pages of numbered words or phrases in French that need translating into English to score points. Or vice-versa if you prefer to play that way. The game comes with two Key-Books, one at approximately O-Level French standard, and the second at A-Level standard.
After the first spin dictates the page, a second spin of the roulette wheel means they again have to shout out a second number in French to dictate which phrase they are going to be questioned on. Great numbers practice so far.
Translate to score points and move
Once they have a phrase they can either try to translate it to score points, or can pass it on to another player. Should they get the translation correct they get to move forward a certain number of spaces (depending on how difficult the translation was deemed to be), but of they get it wrong they have to go back the same number of spaces. The playing pieces in LANGOFUN are small plastic cars – a slightly nicer touch than just standard plastic playing pieces.
How to win
The first player to get to Monte Carlo is the winner. That could be by getting all the way there on the road, or possibly by landing on the lucky helicopter space which means you fly direct there, overtaking anyone that may have been on the road ahead of you.
My thoughts on LANGOFUN
It’s a simple enough game, which a board that looks like it would have been quite nice for a simple kids roll and move game travelling across France.
Modern technology means that the whole concept of Key-Books is rather old fashioned (I’m guessing the game was originally devised in the 1980s, but can’t actually find a date) but at the same time it’s rather endearing and certainly would have been a good way of children practicing French numbers and phrases. How much of the vocabulary matches with the modern day GCSE and A-Level syllabus I simply don’t know. Nor am I sure how much my rusty GCSE French would cope playing it today. It might have been nice as something different for anyone trying to homeschool in lockdown though.
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