Can you learn a language playing video games?

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Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?   Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?   Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?


Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?Language Teacher, Susie, shows how to play KLOO

Using Race to Paris as an example, MFL Teacher, Susie, shows the best way to learn a language by playing KLOO games.


Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?Young Child shows how to make Spanish sentences

Students at Trafalgar School use KLOO to learn Spanish. A young child explains how she makes Spanish sentences.

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

How to make French sentences and phrases
Making a French sentence with KLOO cards is really easy!

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

How to play French Classic KLOO
The original KLOO game. Learn French words and make sentences for points.

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

How to learn French words with KLOO.
Learn common French words and build vocabulary fast with KLOO.

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

How to play French Penalty Shoot Out
A quick fire French quiz game for 2 people. Perfect for building French vocabulary fast.

How to use the French KLOO gameboard
How to use the Race to Paris Game Board for lerarning French with its extra spice it up rules

How to play learn French playing Under Starters Orders
A great solitaire game for French beginners. Build French sentences and learn new words fast

How to play Hostage
3 – 4 people. A children’s game for learning French words

How to play French Squeezebox vocabulary game
A fun solitaire game. Perfect for building up important French Vocabulary.

How to make Spanish sentences and phrases 
Making a Spanish sentence with KLOO cards is really easy!

Best way to learn a language with Classic KLOO
The original KLOO game. Video showing the best way to Learn Spanish language playing KLOO’s Classic KLOO

How to learn Spanish words with KLOO.
Learn common Spanish words and build vocabulary fast with KLOO.

How to play Spanish Penalty Shoot Out
A quick fire Spanish quiz game for 2 people. Perfect for building Spanish vocabulary fast. Ideal Spanish games for kids

How to use the Spanish KLOO gameboard
How to use the Race to Madrid Game Board with its extra spice it up rules fast

How to play Spanish Under Starters Orders
A great solitaire game for Spanish beginners. Build Spanish sentences and learn new words fast

How to play Hostage
3 – 4 people. A children’s game for learning Spanish words

How to play Spanish Squeezebox vocabulary game
A fun solitaire game. Perfect for building up important Spanish Vocabulary.

KLOO’s teach English Game: Race to London
A TEFL game that makes teaching English easy and fun

KLOO Course à Londres: Un jeu pour l’enseignement de l’anglais.
Un jeu ayant reçu plusieurs récompenses Qui aide à faire des phrases en anglais en quelques secondes

Ein Spiel um Englisch zu lehren – KLOO Rennen nach London 
Ein mehrfach bekröntes Spiel dass Vokabular mindestens 200% schneller aufbaut.

  • Un juego para la enseñanza del Inglés – KLOO Carrera a Londres
  • Un juego multi- galardonado que construye vocabulario al menos 200 % más rápido.
  1. Un gioco per imparare l’inglese – KLOO Corsa verso Londra
  2. Un gioco pluripremiato che migliora il tuo vocabolario più veloce di almeno il 200%
  • Gra do nauki angielskiego – KLOO Wyścig do Londynu 
  • Wielokrotnie nagradzana gra która rozwija słownictwa co najmniej 200% szybciej
  1. KLOO’s Catch the Bug
  2. Help your child learn to read, make sentences and Catch the pesky Reading Bug!

KLOO Zoo

For ages 4 – 6. Make sentences, read words and build a zoo!

We hope to have videos for Italian games very soon. However those interested can look at the French videos and the best way to learn a language with KLOO – the principles of how you make sentences, how you learn words and how you play the games are exactly the same

How video games can help you learn English

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Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

A controller

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

  • You’ve heard all the arguments against video games before:
  • Aren’t you a bit old to be playing games? 
  • Don’t you think you’re wasting your time? 
  • Can’t you do something useful instead?

Perhaps you’ve even asked these questions yourself. What’s important to remember, though, is that not all games are created equal.

Yes, there are games that are only for entertainment – playing Candy Crush is not going to teach you much English except for ‘Loading’, ‘Sweet!’ and ‘Level 534’. But these are not the games I’m discussing.

There are hundreds of excellent story-based games1 out there that include a lot of useful language.

In this article, I'll tell you five reasons why video games are a useful tool for learning English. Whether you’re already a gamer or you’ve never touched a controller2 in your life, I hope this article will persuade you that video games can really benefit language learners. 

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1.  Practice your reading skills

It’s no wonder reading quickly and accurately in another language is challenging – around 10% of people struggle to learn reading skills in their first language. A team of researchers from the University of Padua were inspired by this fact to see whether video games could help children who have difficulty reading.

The findings3 were fascinating: nine sessions of playing video games for 80 minutes a day improved the children’s reading ability more than a year of traditional learning methods [a]. Of course, video games have to contain enough text to make them worth playing.

But if you choose the right kind of game, imagine how quickly your reading skills could improve.

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

Video games can improve our reading and listening skills

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

The days of text-based video games4

Learn or Die! 5 Epic Ways to Learn Languages by Playing Video Games

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

Video games provide constant electronic stimulation on a level that mankind has never seen before.

Immersing yourself in an action-packed, digital world has been shown to boost brain power and memory strength, increase connectivity between regions of your brain and improve mental dexterity, hand-eye coordination and problem solving power.

They can even be highly cathartic and therapeutic. Had a difficult day at work? Stressed out after trying to master a complex grammatical structure in a foreign language? Go blow up some bad guys!

  • Meanwhile, some people will have you believe that video games make you dumb, lazy, desensitized or, at worst, a serial killer.
  • We can probably chalk that up to people being afraid of change.
  • Video games are the most modern way to explore, learn, connect, converse and unwind.

Even my mom is rocking the virtual battlefield by leading a “Call of Duty” clan. (Mom, if you’re reading, you’re the coolest.)

So, it’s only natural that video games are starting to gain a reputation for being powerful learning tools, and of course, this can be applied to language learning.

You no longer have to limit yourself to interactive tools made specifically for language learners, either—you can play anything from “Call of Duty: Ghosts” to “Left 4 Dead 2” and “The Sims 4,” as we’ll show you later on.

First, let’s explore the why and how of learning languages with video games. Then we’ll jump into the popular game titles available in foreign languages!  

 Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

Why Learning by Playing Is Super Effective

  • Positive associations. Let’s play a little word association game.When I say “language learning,” what pops into your brain? If your answer is textbooks, flashcards, vocabulary lists, quizzes, exams or all-nighters, then, for the love of God, shake things up. Videos games are for you. If your study methods feel stale (or if you simply can’t motivate yourself to get started), then you need to create more positive associations with language learning in your brain.
  • In-context learning. You’ll learn vocabulary and grammar while you’re embroiled in the action. You’ll be immersed in your virtual world, interacting with virtual people, traveling to virtual places and earning virtual money. Listening, reading and understanding the language of the virtual world (read: your target language, after you get around to switching your game’s language settings) will be rewarded with points, digital bucks or progress in your game’s storyline. This is how immersion works when you’re studying abroad: You learn by doing, you get immediate feedback and you need to keep guessing, trying and thinking creatively if you don’t quite understand something.
  • Repetition. Even in games with complex stories or ones that give you tons of freedom to choose your fate, you’ll still hear the same words over and over as you play. That’s because every game has some core themes, key characters, big events and repeated actions that will keep popping up as you go. This will help to strongly solidify a good chunk of vocabulary. The more familiar with the game you are, the more familiar you’ll become with the language used.
  • You’ll never put off study time. When study time is game time, will you really dread it or procrastinate it?
  • Learn or die! If you don’t follow what’s happening, you’ll die. Plain and simple. Do you really want to lose another life?
  • You can make real-world friends. Many games offer you the ability to connect with people online while you’re playing. Others will just give you a common interest to talk about with friends or Internet strangers on forums and websites.
  • Games are easily accessible. Even if you don’t have an Xbox at home, many games are easily accessible through Steam and app stores.
  • Let the kids have some fun! Kids adore games, obviously, so this is a great way to go if you’re raising bilingual kids or if you’re learning together with your whole family.
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Level 1: Game-ify Study Time

Start with games made for children

Playing video games is one of the best ways to learn a new language

Science often has a love-hate relationship with video games. On the one hand, studies have shown that playing action games can put you at risk of developing brain illnesses. But, contradictory studies have shown that playing video games can act as a stress buster, be a viable treatment for depression, improve your brain efficiency, and may even make you a better student.

A new study shows that popular video games can also be used to teach a new language. In the study done by Saint Louis University in Spain, scientists used the Assassin’s Creed II to teach Italian language to a class of students.

Simone Bregni, associate professor at the university, is also one of the many people who have benefited from video games. He started playing video games in 1975 when he was 12. By the mid-1980s, he was playing textual adventures, and realised his English was improving rapidly as he played.

Can You Learn a Language Playing Video Games?

Video games are an effective way to beat stress and learn new skills. ( Shutterstock )

He began incorporating video games in the classroom in language labs in 1997. It was the introduction of a new generation of animated, interactive adventure games in 2009, however, that brought striking results to his students. “Games have now evolved. They are interactive movies,” Bregni said.

Play video games and learn languages

While my peers were forced to play outside, I spent much of my childhood glued to a computer.

Contrary to what you might expect, I’m far from being overweight, and my eyesight is 20/20. Better yet, I also came out of this experience with a passion and aptitude for language.

  • Film, books, language schools and tutoring have all impacted my English in a positive way, but when I’m asked how I acquired the language, it is video games that I credit with my success.
  • I’ve tried to integrate games into the study of all languages I’ve tackled since, and they remain a staple of my language learning routine to this day.
  • Here are just some of the benefits of this way of learning:
  • It’ll reduce your fear of making errors, the greatest roadblock on the way to fluency
  • You can procrastinate without the guilt of wasting precious study time
  • You’ll learn the language by using it in context, and with a rewarding goal in sight
  • Many games make you integrate different skills: reading, writing, listening and sometimes even speaking

This sounds great, but which games are best for language learners?

Traditional video games

  1. As long as you’re flexible with the genres, traditional video games are excellent at exposing you to language of all registers, used in a variety of situations.

  2. I accustomed my ear to British pronunciation by playing FIFA, acquired a wealth of financial and bureaucratic slang in Hospital and Theme Park World, learned nuanced language when negotiating in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, lost the fear of historical vocabulary after a few campaigns in Caesar III and Civilization, and leveled up my street skills in Grand Theft Auto.
  3. All this while having a load of fun, and without fully realizing I’m learning.
  4. Games combine three different characteristics associated with effective language learning:
  • You learn in context
  • You learn by using the language
  • You get positive feedback for making progress

I cannot think of any other method that consistently combines all three, which makes video games so unique.

Let’s say you wanted to learn Japanese language needed for your part time job as a store clerk.

Can you learn a language playing video games? What the research says

Online gaming has become a concern for some parents in the past few years and there are worries children might become addicted, with negative effects on their socialisation. This has led some parents to think of creative ways to reduce gaming, including rationing the time children spend online.

It’s important to remember though, that not all the research into children playing video games paints a bleak picture. In fact, there is a growing body of research that suggests such worries might be unfounded and that gaming could be an incredibly useful educational tool which might actually make children more sociable, not less.

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In the same way that many schools use other forms of technology to get students more excited about learning – such as interactive whiteboards and tablets – both of which seem popular with students, video games might also offer similar benefits.

How gaming could help

Language learning in particular seems a perfect place to try “gamified” classes. Some schools are already using Minecraft in French classes – the idea is that students work together to build a “learning zone” in the Minecraft space – finding new words to help them along the way.

Indeed, James Paul Gee, a leading researcher in the area of video games as language learning tools, suggests that role-playing games such as The Elder Scrolls series or World of Warcraft, offer an ideal learning space for what he calls “at-risk” learners. In theory, there is just enough challenge, just enough support, just enough room for players to be themselves and, possibly most important, students have just enough “ownership” of the learning process.

“At-risk” language learners, by Gee’s definition, could be anyone. They may be learners with special educational needs, but equally they may also simply be learners who feel more vulnerable in a language classroom.

Learning a language, after all, is a huge departure from some students’ comfort zones. Students, for example, can get nervous and inhibited in a classroom.

Language learning researchers describe this as an “affective filter” – a fear of making a mistake and losing face literally affects how far a student joins in the class.

How To Use Video Games To Learn A Language

Video games have historically gotten a bad rap. They’ve been blamed for everything ranging from rising crime to lowering IQs. As they’ve become more and more popular even outside of “gamer” circles, however, it’s become obvious that this reputation is undeserved. In fact, video games can have the exact opposite effect. Games can be used to improve your life in any number of ways and, yes, video games and language learning can go hand in hand.

If you’re curious about ways to combine video games and language learning, we’re here to help you out. Whether you’ve been a gamer since the Atari 2600 or just started playing Candy Crush on your commute, there are ways to add some learning to your gaming.

Change Your Language Settings

This is the first suggestion we make whenever we talk about technology and language learning. Even if it seems obvious, it’s worth mentioning because it’s very simple to do and it helps inject some language exposure into your day.

Changing your language settings can also do more than teach you the word for “Menu” and “Start.” It fundamentally alters your user experience. If you’re playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, for example, the language will be determined by the Nintendo Switch’s language settings. This can, at the very least, give you a lot of reading practice in your target language.

Play With Friends Who Are Learning Languages

There are a few options here. If you have a friend who is a native speaker of the language you’re learning, or one who’s learning the same language as you, you’re golden.

If not, maybe you could convince a friend to learn a language with you.

And as a last resort, you could try to make friends online who are learning the language, or who are learning English and are interested in a language exchange (you speak in English for a while, then switch to speaking in your target language).

Where do video games come in here? Well, talking in your target language with friends and native speakers is a fantastic way to practice your language, but games can add a whole new dimension. If all you do is chat freely with your language learning partners, you might get caught in forced small talk all the time.

But playing games will give you collaborative tasks to complete in a new language, and conversation will often be key to completing them. Whether you’re working together to bring down an enemy in League of Legends or throwing insults at each other while racing in Mario Kart, you’ll be able to speak the language in a wide range of contexts.

At the very least, video games can make your language learning a little more fun.

Twitch It Up

A few years ago, the idea of watching other people play video games online might have sounded silly. Now, it’s a lucrative business that’s making many people rich. And, just maybe, it’s your next language learning tool.

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