All posts by Kathryn Hanson

New Game at the LRC: Letter Dice

letter dice

Ever wanted to play scrabble, bananagrams, or boggle in another language? With Letter Dice, you can do all three! Shake up the 13 dice in their tin, roll them out and and see what words you can spell. The game includes three suggested variations, but feel free to come up with your own!

Letter Dice:

Set a time limit for each player, then throw the dice. Use the letters shown to create words and connect them like you would in scrabble or bananagrams. At the end of the time limit, total the numerical value of all the words played (letters used in more than one word count twice) and then subtract the value of the unused letters to get that player’s score. Then repeat the process for each player. Play as many rounds as you want!

Letter Yatzi:

Throw the dice and decide on a word to try to make with them. You don’t have to have all the letters available at first. Put the ones that help you aside and re-roll the rest. From the re-rolled, put aside those that help make your big word and re-roll those that don’t. If there are not helpful letters in the re-roll, you still have to put one aside. Repeat until all the letters have been used to make the word or put aside. If you can make a word using all 13 dice, your score for that word is doubled!


This one is a bit like Boggle. As a team, use the dice to make a single (preferably long) word. Then from the letters in that word, think of as many other words as you can. The person who comes up with the last word is the winner. You could also just use the dice to actually play Boggle in your second language. Roll the dice and arrange them in  a grid then play!

Since we have two tins of dice, you can have double the fun. Use more dice to make bigger words or accommodate common conjugations or plurals in your second language. You can also play any of these variations alone, play against yourself and see how much you can improve!

International Flash Mob

This past spring, I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of a flash mob with students from all over the world. While studying abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan, I heard that some of the local Japanese students wanted to put on a flash mob with the international students. To say I was excited would be an enormous understatement. Having been active in musical theater all through middle and high school and nostalgic for those days, I jumped on the opportunity. At least twice week we would meet in groups of 10-20 to learn and practice the choreography. Often we were further broken down into groups of 3 or 4 to teach each other. At first this was a real challenge because, while there was normally at least one Japanese student who spoke English well enough or one international student who spoke Japanese enough, we were all very hesitant to try to speak to each other for fear of making mistakes or being misunderstood. This didn’t last long though; dancing and laughing together made us all more relaxed and comfortable with each other. When you’re all messing up the same dance moves it’s hard to care about messing up a conjugation or particle.

Laughing and dancing together, we all became friendly quickly. Since the Asian Studies program (the one for the international students) and the International Professional Development program are housed in completely separate parts of the campus, it is likely that many of us would not have met if it weren’t for the flash mob.

One afternoon at the beginning of the semester, not long after signups for the flash mob had happened, but before rehearsals started, I met a group of Japanese students who invited me to have lunch with them sometime. As excited as I was to take them up on their offer, we ended up parting ways without getting each other’s contact information. At a school with over 10,000 students, finding a few individuals who you only know by first name is no easy feat. Luckily, I saw two of them again the next week at the first practice. Through the flash mob, we all got to know each other better and became friends. Or, as we liked to say, in reference to one of the songs we danced to, family.

Becoming friendly with the Japanese students  and attending dance practices was also a great way to improve my language skills. We would talk in both Japanese and English, both clarifying what we were trying to say in our second language and correcting each other so we all learned. At practice our leaders would often give instructions in both languages as well, giving us great listening practice with a concrete way to check our understanding.

Besides all the learning, participating in the flash mob was a great experience simply because it was fun. Even though the dance practices were often exhausting, every second was worth it. We talked, we learned, we danced, we laughed, and at the end we all cried a little knowing it was over. If you ever have the chance to work with people while abroad in a fun way, I strongly encourage you to do so. Although we were all different, we truly became like family.

See also the making of video for interviews with the leaders of the flash mob and behind the scenes footage of our practices!

Japanese 303 Students produce their own drama!

Japanese Studies majors Adriana Alecci, Gabriela Lisboa, and Kathryn Hanson created this drama as part of their final project for Japanese 303. It begins with three friends, an otaku, a gold-digger, and a crazy cat lady, meeting in a cafe to talk about their crazy ex-boyfriends. As they dream about their perfect men, in walk three super-attractive guys. The boys also have relationship troubles. One’s girlfriend is overly clingy, another’s is abusive, and the other’s acts like a child constantly.

For those who don’t speak Japanese or those who do but might not understand everything, there is an English translation of the script here. Have fun watching!

French Scrabble!

french scrabble

In addition to Spanish and Italian Scrabble, the LRC now has French Scrabble! It’s a great way to practice spelling and vocabulary while having lots of fun, regardless of level.

You can play the same way as English Scrabble, with 2-4 players and words placed horizontally or vertically, players rotate turns, the game ends when all letters in the bag have been used and once one player finishes all of their letters. For a fun, new twist on a classic, you can incorporate the “tulies spéciales”. Each player gets three of the special tiles to use in addition to the normal 7. One of these three functions the same as the blank tile, but is worth 3 points, while the other two can be used to claim empty spaces for your next turn. There is also a variation for team play.

If you’re a French beginner, use a dictionary while you play to learn new words! Come down to the LRC to play! Jouons!

New game at the LRC: Dixit

dixit box

We have a fun new game in the LRC that can be played in any language! Dixit uses beautifully illustrated cards that players then have to either describe or match to another player’s description. We encourage you to use your second (or third, or fourth) language to play Dixit. Beginners can use single word descriptors and advanced language learners can put together an entire story about their card if they want.

One player chooses a card from their hand and, without showing the other players, gives a clue about the card. This clue can be a direct description, a proverb that relates to it, a story, a pop-culture reference… Anything goes as long as you use your language skills. Let’s use the following three cards as examples:

footstepsfuture picgood and evil

Left: 黒いです
Kuroi desu
It’s black

Middle: 未来の写真
Mirai no shashin
Picture of the future

Right: 時間が眠っているあいだ、二つの大きいな力が戦っている
Jikan ga netteiru aida, futatsu no ookiina chikara ga tatakatteiru
While time sleeps, the two great powers fight

These examples are in Japanese, but Dixit can be played in any language. Even if you only know a few words, you can try something like the first example. If you don’t know a word that you want to use, there’s no shame in looking it up. Rather, it’s an excellent way to supplement your vocabulary. Then you can teach the new word(s) to someone else! You could also try playing in pairs or teams. Two heads are better than one! You can work together to come up with something more correct or complex in your target language. Team members can also work together to figure out what the clue means in English. Then they can better match one of their cards to the clue and play it.

Once all the players/teams have submitted a card that they think matches the clue, all the cards are revealed. Everyone then votes on the card that they think the clue was originally based on. Scoring is based on how many people find that card.

Dixit can be played with as few as 3 people (with some minor adjustments) according to the traditional rules. However, you could also just use the cards to practice vocabulary, creating sentences, or other oral skills on your own or with only one friend. Try drawing a card and making up a story to go with it, or identifying all the visual attributes of the card. Beginners can try naming all the colors used, nouns, or something that uses equally basic language skills. You can do this individually or team up with a friend to help each other and check each other’s work. Alternately, try telling each other stories based on the cards and see if your partner can understand. If one of you is artistic, you could even describe the card and have your partner draw it.

You can also use Dixit to practice dictation. While one player gives their hint or describes the card orally, the other player(s) write what they hear. This could be especially useful for languages like Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic which have writing systems other than the Roman alphabet that English uses.

Dixit is incredibly flexible, with so many different ways to play, it can be both fun and educational for all language learners regardless of skill or language. Come try it out!

LRC Student Staff Member: Katie Hanson

The new semester has begun, and we are featuring profiles of our multilingual and multitalented student staff members.

はじめまして! I’m Katie Hanson, a senior Japanese Studies major originally from Wilton, CT, also known as the town “Stepford Wives” was based on (I promise it’s not like that anymore!). I took my first language class in 3rd grade and proceeded to study French through the remainder of elementary and middle school. In high school I switched from French to Latin, but was forced to cut my studies short my sophomore year after moving to New York. In the absence of a formal language class, I began studying Japanese on my own, though I’ll admit to not learning much that way. Thus when I came to Gettysburg, I enrolled in Japanese 101 and have been studying the language ever since. My sophomore year I also picked up Arabic 101.

Last semester I studied abroad in Japan at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata City, Osaka Prefecture. While there I explored both Kyoto and Osaka, took a trip to Hiroshima to listen to a lecture by an atomic bomb survivor, and over spring break went snowboarding in the Japanese Alps.

I’m involved in the Women’s choir (we’re doing some awesome pieces in Inuit and Creole this semester, come see our concert on 11/22!), the fencing club, Sigma Alpha Iota (all-women’s music fraternity), MEIS house, the PLA program for Japanese 101, and the local Episcopal church. Between my various musical endeavors, I’ve performed music in over 10 different languages.

In the future, I would like to continue my study of Japanese, Arabic, and French as well as learn Greek, Korean, and Spanish. Eventually I would like to go to grad school for a master’s in international affairs or education and work in the realm of international education.