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"Board" with Spanish verbs

"Board" with Spanish verbs

[photo of Carol Franks]Carol Franks invented a game to help English
speakers learn Spanish verbs.

For Carol Franks, Arts’71, it’s been a long and winding road to her latest career as a board game inventor.

Carol has come up with “Verb It”, a board game for learning Spanish verbs. Even more surprisingly, with no business or marketing plan, no research support, and no budget, she’s is manufacturing and selling the game to Spanish language schools, Berlitz, book stores, high schools and universities. And now with a little help from her niece, Allison Young, Artsci’95, Carol hopes to sell the game on Amazon.com. How and why all this came about is an intriguing story.

After majoring in history at Queen’s, Carol went on to study journalism at Ryerson and earned a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism at Boston University. Her career since then has included stints both as a newspaper and television reporter, teaching English in Thailand, working as News Manager at Queen’s in the late ‘70s, tending bar in Australia, working as a CBC researcher, toiling as a communications coordinator in various governmental agencies, and owning and managing a couple of bed-and-breakfast inns, one of which was the Painted Lady Inn on William Street, a few blocks north of campus.

When she sold the Painted Lady in 2006, Carol was intent on joining an NGO, improving her Spanish skills, and “contributing to the world.” But few NGOs were recruiting volunteers at the time, and so Carol set off for Central America on her own. She settled into San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, and immersed herself in the culture in hopes of learning the language and culture.

Before long Carol was offering free English lessons and teaching local schoolteachers at lunchtime. As demand for her classes grew, Carol moved to the library and offered free English lessons for all comers. The response was overwhelming, standing-room-only classes. Many of the students came to study three times a week, after working 12-hour shifts at their jobs. “There were no books and few teaching tools. Only a whiteboard that fell over constantly,” says Carol. So she started an email campaign and raised $4,000 to buy English texts.

Meanwhile, Carol was still trying to learn Spanish. Frustrated by the complexity of Spanish verbs, the idea to ease her pain that she came up with evolved into “Verb It”. Where it will all eventually lead her is anyone’s guess. “But so much for my retirement,” says Carol with a laugh.

For more information or to contact Carol, email verbitgame@ymail.com

[Queen's Alumni Review 2010-2 cover]