Friday, January 11, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Spanish-English Zingo: You Had Me at Hola!

I firmly believe that foreign language study can help many native English speakers become more fluent in their mother tongue.  photo: ThinkFun

WHAT: Spanish-English Zingo by ThinkFun
DOES:  educational game teaching youngsters basic Spanish and English vocabulary words; sometimes learning is more fun when variety is presented, sometimes it's easier to speak in your own language than it is in English!
INVEST:  $19.99 MSRP  
AGES: 4+
TOOLS:  Foment Love of Language, People are People, Social Scene Helper
EXPERT OPINION: Alison Berkley, Co-owner, Special Education Teacher, Emerge and See Education Center, Blogger, Breaking Barriers at Psychology Today
GIVEAWAY Details Below:

Right after I finished college and lived abroad for three years, I promised myself that I would have multi-lingual children. I really felt it was possible.  I myself speak Korean and can get by in Spanish and know a bit of Japanese as well.  My husband can speak Chinese and so that would give us a shot at least five languages. And after Number 1 Son was born, I tried my best to speak Korean to him but by age three, I noticed that he was lagging behind in speech when compared to his peers.

We had him evaluated for speech and after hearing about delays, I received counsel by a bilingual therapist to stop teaching him Korean for a while.  I was sad but I did it.  (I still yell at my kids in Korean though)  I don't regret my decision because sometime last year, I just decided to really start trying again.  I started teaching him a little Japanese and then I heard about Spanish-English Zingo and I was so happy! What timing!

All the cards have pictures and words in black ink.  English side is blue.

You Don't Know Spanish? No Problema!
I take it for granted that many of us can speak Spanish but there are some friends of mine who took French in middle and high school so they really don't know anything about Spanish.  One of my tester's moms relayed that apprehension to me and then I realized that it could be hard to teach a child these words if you yourself don't know how to speak the language.

But never fear, Google is here.  While Google Translate can take all of the Spanish words in Zingo and pronounce them for you.  So no worries on that front.  Google's got your back!

I checked all the Zingo Spanish words with the speaker button and I think Google's pronunciation is right on target.

Bilingualism Opens Kids Up

There is something that happens to me when I start speaking Korean or Japanese.  I actually have to change the way I think.  That is because I have to think about my relationship with whom I am speaking to use correct grammar.  If that person is Professor Thinkus then I will use the honorific language when greeting him but if it is my son, I will use the familiar/casual language.  This change in perspective somehow seems to affect children too even if they know very few words of a different language.

Alison Berkley, a fantastic educator knows exactly what I mean.  She has a student that doesn't use language often unless she's speaking Spanish! (but English is her native language)  "She wasn't really motivated to use language but the Spanish thing was like a game for her," Alison told me.

However, the Spanish language tiles are all in blue.

Alison felt that working on learning a new language could be helpful for kids that didn't have much language.  "It's a totally new territory for them," she said. "It's totally new for everybody and that's kind of a nice way to come in too because kids that have a lot of language difficulty might feel insecure with where they are language-wise."

"Communication comes in a lot of different forms and it's up to us to figure out what kids are trying to communicate," said Alison.  She also pointed out that we needed to figure out how we can help them expand into more meaningful and complex communication.  I really agree but just to be clear both Alison and I think that if you are concerned about a child falling behind in communication because of learning a new language then it would be wise to consult with a speech and language pathologist. However, if you are not concerned, then I thoroughly encourage you to try this out.  It is totally fun listening to my kid trying to roll his R's in perro. I love when he asks me why reloj (clock) does not sound like re-lodge. 

We love the Zinger. Sometimes we make one side Spanish and the other side English.  You can even get two monolingual Spanish and English kids to play together.  Also....  If you have the other Zingos, mix up your tiles from different games into one Zinger and play a crazy challenge round. (ie. Zingo 123 with Spanish English Zingo)  Idea courtesy of Number 1. 

Why Go Bilingual if You're Not Going to Be Fluent?

It's not that I think everyone who attempts bilingualism will fail, actually, I ask this question because I think everyone expects that if you are trying to learn a new language then you need to learn it, become fluent, and remember it forever.  And if you didn't then it was a waste of time.  I used to feel the same way but now I don't think so.  Why?  It's simple really.  The benefits of learning a new language starts the minute you start learning that new language.  This is because when you learn another language, you instantly have something to compare it to and that is huge.

If you are bilingual then you'll know what I mean but if you are not, then try thinking like this:  If you are Jewish and you are married to someone of a different faith, don't you think you end up becoming more aware of your own faith?  It may not be a big difference but even those subtleties may intrigue you enough to think about what you already know.  Oftentimes, you get a crash course in differences when it comes to planning a wedding or giving birth to a baby but that's a whole other topic to discuss some other time. To sum it up it really is worth it to learn a language, even if it's just a little bit.  It's one more way to expand a child's world and that will never be a waste of time.

This is just a tiny video of the Zinger in action.  I hope you can hear the sounds of the Zinger and "filling slot" when you must give it a nice push to refill the columns. 

Now it's time to win your own Spanish-English Zingo!!!
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did you say Amazon? Oh yes, many ThinkFun toys can be purchased on the ThinkFun site and Amazon as well!!  If you choose the jungle, please use my link to support this site in 2013.

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any way by the manufacturer of this product.  The product was sent to the tester and the expert in order to facilitate a review. Reviews are never promised.


  1. Everyone was happy with what the received.

  2. That is a great goal. I wonder how you tackle that at home. Sigh.... so many things to do....

  3. We are focusing on Spanish vocab (prompted by a recent trip to Puerto Rico) and the usage of grace and courtesy language *without* prompts.

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