Chispas: a translation game

Chispas: a translation game | Idea of Stephanie Prine |Shared by Elizabeth Dentlinger at

Chispas: a translation game | Idea of Stephanie Prine |Shared by Elizabeth Dentlinger at

Chispas (or Sparkle, in English) is another great game that I stole from Stephanie Prine’s #iwla14 presentation that works well for both TPRS/CI and textbook-based classrooms.  Students get SO excited to play this game in all of my levels.  Spanish 1 just played for the first time yesterday to prove they understood the difference between son las and a las with a Martina Bex story, and they came in asking to play it AGAIN today.  I’ve never had another  translation activity so well received.

Here’s how to play:

  • On a Powerpoint, write sentences you want students to be able to say in the target language (TL).
  • Students stand in a semi-circle around the projector, looking at the screen.
  • Display 1 sentence at a time on the screen.  I prefer to display who sentence all at once because for CI it’s more realistic to see the whole chunk, but you may choose to have one word appear at a time.
  • Student A translates only Word 1 into the TL, Student B translates Word 2 into the TL, and so on.
  • Students continue translating until the whole sentence is completely translated into the TL.
  • After Student X says the last word of the sentence, the next student in line (Student Y)  yells CHISPAS and the person after them (Student Z) is out of the game and they go sit down.
  • When a student isn’t able to translate their word, they leave the circle and sit down.
  • Students play until there is 1 student remaining.  If all students go down on a hard word, they are all out and we finish the sentence together as a class.  Sometimes, a few students get out and have to wait a few rounds (2-3 sentences) before everyone else is out.  Once there is 1 winner, we finish out that sentence and then the whole class can come back up and play again.

Some recommendations: 

  • At beginning of game, have all students get a sheet of paper out.  When students get out, they have to copy down that sentence in the TL.  The reward for those that are still up is that they do not have to write it down.
  • Consider having all students repeat/yell the correct word after each correct student.  I didn’t do it, but it would better ensure all students are listening.
  • Consider making the student who yells CHISPAS have to repeat the entire sentence correctly.  You can make this part of finishing the sentence (an additional element that comes as a step before CHISPAS is yelled), or you can make it a challenge.  To make it a challenge, when that student yells CHISPAS they have to be able to correctly say the entire sentence or they are out instead of the next student.
  • You could add a picture representing the sentence to the slide to aid student’s comprehension.

I like this game for a lot of reasons.  First of all, my students liked it, too, and that makes a world of difference.  However, there are more important reasons.  It reminds me of when I do Embedded Reading when my students have to translate Spanish to English.  I like that this activity has students look at literal English translations because it helps students recognize what the word order is in the target language and it really helped those students who think in English first (no matter what I tell them!).  It allowed me to review a story we had worked on all week in a new manner (the brain craves novelty, after all!) to let me see what students had actually acquired throughout the week.  Lastly, I kind of like that it was translation (some might call this a comprehension check, but I’m not going to argue over terminology here) because in my experience students are so proud when they get done doing it.  They can’t believe that they actually knew all of that information.

I used this after learning various CI stories this week, but you could definitely make this activity work with textbook-based units, too.  The example Stephanie Prine has on her website is for a textbook unit.

Make sure to give CHISPAS a try with your current unit!

6 thoughts on “Chispas: a translation game

  1. I love this and can’t wait to try it! I was wondering how your provide the sentence in English when the syntax is different. For example, would you give it to them as “I ate a delicious apple” or “I ate an apple delicious?” ¡Gracias!

    • I gave it to them in the “strange” order (apple delicious) because I want student to hear the difference in the word order. I found it really helped my students remember adjectives go after… and it was really cute when they would talk like this in English and say they were “using their Spanish brain!”

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