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Best Board Games for Non-Native English Speakers

You may be new to the English language or simply developing some of your linguistic skills but if you are a non-native speaker, some games with a lot of complex reading or speaking tasks may throw you off.

Whether you are a non-native speaker looking for some light interaction or an English teacher, searching for simple icebreakers with limited use of English words then check out what this charming list of language-independent board games has in store. Let’s dive into our list of the best board games for non-native English speakers.

🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Board Games for Non-Native English Speakers

12/08/2022 08:58 am GMT

Carcassonne

Carcassonne Board Game

Players: 2-5
Playing time: 30- 45 minutes

Carcassonne is a board game if you like to build! Players use tiles to create a medieval kingdom and earn victory points by sending followers to claim features that they have built. Language is unimportant when it comes to strategic skills, so you can benefit if you are more of an observer in this one. 

What we like:

If you are a non-native English speaker, Carcassonne is fantastic in terms of not needing to read anything and the game could almost be played without the need to talk or discuss any points providing you understand the instructions. As you are only placing one tile each time it is your turn, it means the game is quite fast-paced so your attention has no time to stray.

Carcassonne also has a ton of amazing expansions!

What could be better:

You might find it is a bit dated and if you’re not a fan of tile placement games then you likely won’t get too excited about it. 

Carcassonne
$34.99 $32.99

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12/09/2022 07:47 am GMT

Survive: Escape from Atlantis!

Survive! Escape From Atlantis Family Board Game

Players: 2-4 
Playing time: 60 minutes

Who wouldn’t want to spice up their day with a classic game of Survive? Another fun one for builders or strategists out there! Atlantis is sinking and the player’s objective is to get their meeples off the island safely. Having a good memory is a cool advantage in this one!

What we like:

Survive is a great game if you’re happy to focus on movement and numbers. Players can either use boats or swim to safety whilst steering clear of any sea creatures en route. Again, no need for language and it is quick and ruthless.

What could be better:

There is an element of confrontation in this game as Sea Serpents and Sharks eat other players’ meeples. So decide wisely if you want to use it as an icebreaker!

Survive: Escape From Atlantis!
$39.99 $37.98

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12/08/2022 08:22 am GMT

Takenoko

Takenoko Board Game Components

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 45 minutes

Takenoko is a cool Japanese-style game that involves players taking care of a Giant Panda that was gifted to them by the Chinese Emperor as a symbol of peace. Said Panda trusts players to lovingly tend to his Bamboo Garden, promising to cultivate land crops and keep him well-fed and content.

What we like:

A colorful and bouncy game that requires a tug of war of who can feed a cute Panda the most bamboo. This relaxing family game doesn’t have too much fierce competition. Just watch out for his penchant for crunchy bamboo shoots!

What could be better:

Despite it being a breeze for language learners or non-native speakers, serious gamers might find it too simplistic and the look of the board could be seen as too youthful or family-oriented.

Takenoko
$75.76

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12/08/2022 08:53 am GMT

Stone Age

Stone Age 3-Player Board Game

Players: 2-4
Playing time:90 minutes

Gather your tribesmen and let’s take a leap back to prehistoric times when you could trade without restrictions whilst collecting resources and food. A mix of luck and skill matter here and the themes and realism of this game do not disappoint.

What we like:

The beauty of Stone Age is a fantastic worker placement mechanic. A fair amount of strategy is involved but not to a point where it is too complex. It is a perfect gateway game and another exciting and mesmerizing one for families. More speaking may be required but not too much reading.

What could be better:

If you don’t like number games or math in general you could struggle as there are times when you have to add and divide the dice totals.

Stone Age
$49.99

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12/08/2022 08:58 am GMT

Ticket to Ride

Players: 2-5 
Playing time: 30-60 minutes 

Let’s spot some trains! The objective of Ticket to Ride is to place trains, connect cities, and have the longest continuous train route by the end. If you’re a fan of simplicity then this is the one for you. It can also double up as a fun geography lesson for language learners as the board is literally a map

What we like:

Another numbers game but without too many complications and minimal rules to abide by. Train and travel enthusiasts may get more from this one. It is also a game with a fast setup, so really there are no frills or huge time commitments. 

Ticket to Ride also has a ton of amazing expansions with maps from around the world!

What could be better:

Aesthetically, it is nothing too special and there are not too many components. They could add extra twists and wild cards, but even with a low level of English, you are good to go. All aboard!

Ticket to Ride
$54.99 $25.00

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12/09/2022 11:30 am GMT

Camel Up

Camel Up Board Game Box and Art

Players: 2-8 
Playing time: 30 minutes

Who doesn’t like to gamble on a camel race every now and then? In Camel Up, a cool pyramid is used as a dice shaker and you have stackable camels racing to meet the finish line. You can place short-term or long-term bets and the earlier you make them, the more you can earn. 

What we like:

It’s super easy, family-friendly, and is great as an icebreaker for new groups. The artwork is simple and attractive, and it is accommodating for young players. As currency and numbers are used, it is also a fine educational game.

What could be better:

The stacking element of the game may be confusing, and you may also find that the game is over rather quickly. The board is quite small, but there is a new caravan-style version called Camel Up: Off Season available to purchase separately.

Camel Up (2nd Ed)
$72.02

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12/09/2022 02:31 am GMT

Sushi Go Party!

Sushi Go Party Cheap Board Game

Players: 2-8 
Playing time: 20 minutes 

The title of the game is enough to cause a stomach rumble! A version of the original Sushi Go! expanded for more players, the aim of this card-drafting game is to make the most delectable sushi combos. 

Players earn points based on the value of each delicious dish. Cards have several different functions, but the rules are clear and comprehensive enough for non-native English speakers.

What we like:

It’s easy enough to play with a group of up to 8 players and because it is a fast game, no one has time to get bored or frustrated. There are plenty of cool colors and if you’re not familiar with Sushi it can be a nice way to learn and recognize the dishes.

What could be better:

The game is packaged in a large tin box which may not be desirable for storage or travel. If you’re not familiar with Sushi names, it could be confusing depending on your native language.

Sushi Go Party!
$22.00

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12/09/2022 07:37 am GMT

Skull

Skull Travel Board Game Box and Art

Players: 3-6 
Playing time: 45 minutes

All about bluffing and bidding, this game has elements of guessing, bravery and luck. The main action is flipping cards to reveal the most roses and to avoid flipping over a skull. Skull is a game of courage and risk. Get your poker face ready!

What we like:

It is a fun competition for spontaneous challenges and the direction of the game can go anywhere. Making the right bet at the right time can easily put you in the winner’s seat. Skull is a quick game that can be played casually and it has small packaging for storage.

What could be better:

If you are not a fan of luck and randomness then you might get frustrated quickly. There is no rule that prevents early challenges so it may be difficult to have a high number of cards to flip if your opponents challenge too soon.

Skull

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Splendor

Splendor Board Game Box and Card Setup

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 30 minutes

Boasting an easy setup, Splendor is an open drafting, set collection game where merchants are in search of gem mines. Renaissance-themed, this chip-collecting competition is a basic battle for wealth and prestige. The championship is earned by becoming the first player to gain 15 prestige points.

What we like:

Splendor takes no time to pick up the rules, so it is a fine one to teach to children, ages 10 and up. It is super lightweight so could be a good vacation or travel game as no board is required.

What could be better:

If you prefer a game with more players then you might be disappointed to realize that it is a maximum of only four. Aesthetically, the chips could have been jazzier or gem-like, but sometimes less is more.

Splendor
$39.99 $33.83

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12/07/2022 04:26 am GMT

Ingenious

Ingenious board game box and board

Players: 1-4 
Playing time: 45 minutes 

In Ingenious, players use domino-style hexes to create patterns and color-coordinated lines. It may seem simple at first glance, but the twist is the points system and the complexity of ensuring you have collected points for all colors and have the best worst score.

What we like:

This abstract game can be played in any language, provided you understand the rules. It is all based on colors, numbers, lines, and patterns. The main focus is thinking about tile placements, and it is a colorful and visually pleasing game. Also, it is a lot of fun even with just 2 players.

What could be better:

The scoring system might be a difficult concept to explain to non-native speakers but once you have understood the rules, it is an enjoyable yet strategic match.

Ingenious
$39.99

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12/09/2022 03:30 am GMT

Wrap-Up

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best board games for non-native English speakers! These are the perfect games to try out in the classroom for ESL students or even to help get younger kids ready for back to school!

Have you tried any of the games on this list? Did we miss any of your favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.

SHARING IS CARING

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Camel Up (2nd Ed)
$72.02

Buy on Amazon Buy at Noble Knight
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
12/09/2022 02:31 am GMT