Now Reading
Video Games are Great for Learning Languages, And Here is Why

Video Games are Great for Learning Languages, And Here is Why

For many people, the process of learning a new language has become a traumatic experience. Many reasons hide behind such “linguistic suffering”: having a poor language education at school, being unable to pay for decent language classes, being teased for speaking “too badly,” lack of interest, etc. All these issues are very complex to solve, but that does not mean you have to give up. After all, it’s never too late to learn languages through pleasant things like video games, which can help us with fluency and vocabulary.

First, let’s take a look at what it’s been like to deal with foreign languages when it comes to playing video games. If you’ve been keeping up with how the industry has developed over the last 30 or 40 years, you’ll realize that things weren’t so easy in the past. You had to play new titles in their original language, which was only English or Japanese at the time. In those days, people from other countries used the power of logic to try to understand the game and, at best, with the help of a dictionary. Later, translations progressed to the point where we had a version for almost any language.

We can currently enjoy any video games in our native languages, but getting too used to consuming everything in our own way of understanding the world can make us very comfortable and lazy. Trying to play them in their original language or in one we are learning will allow us to understand much more than the official translation (which tends to change the original meaning of certain lines sometimes). Most importantly, it will give us experience with the language in both written and spoken forms, making us express our thoughts better than those websites that write essays for you free from any doubts and extra spending.

Let us be honest: using video games to learn foreign languages will not make you “speak fluently in six months” as it is often sold on various websites. However, they are valid in helping you upgrade your vocabulary acquisition and fluency.

Playing Games in Other Languages Improves Fluency

How does a native speaker become fluent in their own language? When we are born, we have no idea of the world, let alone how to use language. Children learn to speak from experience and repeat what they hear. That’s why a language starts to sound natural to them even though their mouths are still very immature: because they decide to repeat until they are able to communicate successfully.

It is normal in video games for dialogues to be repeated frequently. To take advantage of this, we can try to repeat what another character said in the same way they did. Clearly, we will not do it equally well at first, but we can try as many times as necessary until we get a good result. Language learning is about patience and perseverance, so if we apply the practice to something we do every day without fail, we can progress well.

If we hear something that interests us, we can repeat it. We can also memorize it and practice it in front of a mirror to make it sound as natural as possible. This will take a lot of trying and might make us look ridiculous, but put that embarrassment aside because fluency comes from repeatedly practicing, regardless of whether you choose to learn languages through video games or not.

Nowadays, the dialogues in games have different levels of complexity. The characters can talk about saving the world, preventing a coup d’état, or just making a hamburger. We can choose something we like (it’s still our form of entertainment) and focus on that topic.

There is something that is rarely talked about, and that is that spoken language is different from written language. This is not only in terms of style, but the way we string a speech together when we speak is different from how we try to read something. Native speakers usually combine sounds, and this makes comprehension very difficult, so be careful with this.

You Will Also Learn New Vocabulary

This repetition will also help us learn words and expressions we didn’t know before. Clearly, it all depends on the context, so not every new word we hear will be useful in everyday life. That’s the problem with video games: sometimes words are used in such a specific context that they are not always useful in everyday life.

However, listening and repeating enough can make a word or expression stick in our heads. If we hear a native speaker use it at some point, our brain will alert us that this word has been heard before. Making such a connection to our memories will increase our chances of quickly remembering the word.

Even if this happens in a language class with a teacher, we can take advantage of the opportunity. We can give the context details (in which game, which character, etc.) and ask whether this kind of expression is used in everyday life and under what terms. It is unlikely to be forgotten.

See Also
games like far cry

Be Careful With The Context of The Phrases you Hear and The Accents you Imitate

While video games are an excellent tool for learning, we also have to be aware of what they are: an entertainment tool that can often take us away from the real world. Deliberately repeating phrases that we have heard characters such as pirates, criminals, mercenaries, and so on say in conversations with native speakers can leave us a bit off-guard. If you are not sure, it is better to consult with native speakers or specialized websites.

This is the same as in anime. The way most characters speak is so unreal that no one will take you seriously if you end up talking like them. If you keep constantly imitating Goku by saying “NO! DAMMIT!” when in trouble, people around you will likely stop talking to you.

Just being aware of this fact and being discerning about what we say and how we say it is fine. That doesn’t mean speaking like that, but adapting and, if anything, using that same expression when the context requires it (such as comically imitating characters).

On the other hand, there is no point in mortifying yourself by changing the language of the game 100% of the time. You can try playing the original language to try to understand for a while and go back to how it was before while you adapt. The idea is to learn while being entertained, not to end up hating something you liked.

Final Tips For Learning Languages With Video Games

Finally, here is a quick list of things you can do to learn languages with video games:

  • Translate your video games into another language. Better if it’s the original. Do it with just the dialogues, subtitles, or the interface if you are not at a high level. Memorize the place in the settings where you can make the language changes.
  • Repeat the words you hear, even if you mispronounce them. You can memorize them and practice in front of a mirror.
  • Put aside the embarrassment of saying things you don’t understand or maybe mispronouncing.
  • Check the internet for typical phrases of certain characters so that you have written help for what you are learning. The wikis for each game work very well.
  • Have fun. If you feel that you are getting bored with the activity, it is better to take a break and come back to it when you are motivated enough.
  • Be patient. This is a very time-consuming journey, and results will not be seen immediately. Becoming fluent in other languages takes time, regardless of whether you use video games or not.