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Another way to have fun with words

Have you tried solving crossword puzzles in the language you’re learning?

At school, my friend and I used to race the teachers to finish the daily crossword in the newspaper before the end of morning tea break. She was a whizz at anagrams and I was good at general knowledge questions. Together, we often beat the teachers.

The regular kind of English crossword, that is.

The cryptic kind of English crossword bamboozles me. All makes sense when going backwards from the answers to the clues. But getting from the clues to the answers is mystifying.

Crosswords in German used to seem just as cryptic.

Until I moved to Germany and started doing them with a friend who would explain the telegram-like clues to me. Soon I could figure them out on my own and was hooked.

Another friend helped me in the same way with French crosswords – earning us bemused looks on train rides in France.

Apart from helping us recall words we know, doing crosswords also make us notice what words we don’t know but really should. Figuring out the

meaning of brief clues boosts language ability. Coming across common cultural references gives handy background knowledge.

Sure, crosswords are a tough challenge at first.

So to make solving them easier:

  • do them with a friend

  • ask the internet for help with a clue

  • check if there are crossword books at different levels, like in French

Nowadays, I hardly ever do crosswords or play solo Scrabble in English.

Doing them in German or French is a fun way to keep up my languages whenever I have some spare minutes.

Need a hand to set up and stick to your DIY language project? I can help.

© Christina Wielgolawski