Whatever the reason that you decided to learn another language, it doesn’t have to be tedious and painful. Games are the ideal way to both learn and enjoy the process. After all, if it’s fun, you are much more likely to keep doing it. And you are more likely to remember what you learn.
While some repetition is required in order to learn a language, you need to make it a fun experience. And there is nothing like playing games to do that. Games shake up what you have learned, test it, and help you feel like you’ve accomplished something. So keep the repetition, but add a little fun to your daily language learning. Here’s why you should add regular games to your learning experience.
A common misconception about language learning
We are taught over time that studying is a chore, that it’s always dry and boring, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Learning can be fun! And everything is easier to learn when there are games involved.
Think about it: when you were a young kid (five and under), all you did was play. You learned everything you needed to know about how to interact with the world, including your native language. You didn’t do that by sitting and studying when you were 3; you did it through play and experience.
Rote memorization will only get you so far. True learning is accomplished through responding under pressure. Games provide that in abundance. Whether you join in a competition or are timed, games put you under pressure, but in a way that’s fun and light-hearted. Your brain is stimulated and you enjoy the experience. It also helps you to develop associations that rote learning fails to create.
How it works
Learning is all about the experience. If you are told something, the odds are you will forget it within a day. If you see something in action, you may make a few connections, but you still won’t understand how something works. If you get hands-on experience, the concept becomes personal and sticks in your memory.
Games provide that experience. Instead of a passive environment where you are told and shown, you get to do and feel. Because more of your senses are involved, there are more triggers to help you remember. This is a dynamic learning environment.
Another reason it works well is that you can play games pretty much anywhere at any time. When you are waiting for your order at a café, you can play a game. When you are waiting for your late friend to arrive at the movies, you can play a game. During your evening walk, you can play a game. The possibilities are endless!
The benefits of language games are infinite
Games give you a chance to learn strategically, too. You can focus on specific areas, targeting concepts that you’ve had trouble learning through more traditional means. Because it is a game, it feels a lot less like work. Perhaps you’ve been struggling with learning French for years, using games will make it feel like child’s play.
If you have spent 30 minutes trying to drill something into your head, find a game that focuses on the concept; it will be far more effective in helping you both understand and use said concept.
One of the best things about games is that they help keep you from feeling self-conscious. As you get caught up in the action, you forget to feel bad about your mistakes.
Finally, games are a much better motivator than traditional language learning methods. Being able to play when you have some free time means you are more likely to learn and you will find that you want to keep going back for more.
As you move to the next level of the game, you will learn more while integrating what you have already learned. You also have proof that you are progressing in your learning, which is incredibly motivating.
Reap the rewards of gaming
There have been plenty of studies into learning through games. A research study in 2003 examined how effective game-based education is for those learning a new language. There were two primary observations from the study:
- The enjoyment and competitive nature of the games made for a relaxed environment where students were more comfortable learning.
- The rate of learning and information retention improved over the study.
10 benefits of gamified language learning:
- It is an effective use of the time available.
- It’s fun.
- It isn’t the usual learning method.
- Having context makes things clearer.
- It gives you more motivation to keep learning.
- It lowers anxiety.
- It helps you learn to communicate.
- It encourages further learning in the language.
- It develops better attitudes towards the learning process.
- It combines several different learning methods.
As you play, your brain is stimulated to integrate what you are learning in a way that is much easier to recall later.
Recommended language games
There are a lot of games out there for learning and maintaining a language, but some of them are pretty similar to rote memorization and not particularly fun! For an enjoyable educational experience, check out these games. The first two are available both online and as apps. The remaining games are all app-based games for your portable devices.
This is a leveling up game that you can play alone or with others. It has a decent selection of languages, though the Asian languages available are rather limited. One way around this is to use the app to contact native speakers of the Asian languages you want to learn and see if you can help each other. If you are learning western languages, you will have the chance to really compete as you learn.
Combining viewing and learning, this is a unique approach to acquiring a new language. Watch clips (movies, trailers, ads, vlogs, you name it) and interact with them. Use this app to focus on the vocabulary, which FluentU will track you.
If you aim to concentrate on speaking, this is the game you need. With speech recognition, you can learn how to sound more like a native speaker. This app has less of a ‘gaming feel’, but it creates an environment where you are less likely to be self-conscious as you are talking to a computer program rather than a person.
Bravolo harnesses the array of games that children use to learn, which are highly effective methods. From visual recognition to pronunciation, you will have your hands full with this app. Want to see how you sound compared to a native speaker? Check it out and see where you are making your mistakes.
There is a reason this company has won the Best Education App of the Year” award – its design and gameplay are clean and easy. Play through a number of mini-games to take a new approach to a single element of the language. The games are primarily identification-focused, so you will be choosing the right term based on the word in English or another form of recognizing the word with the English equivalent.
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