Posted on by Ulrike S. Rettig

Why Games for Language Learning?

(last updated 7/29/2016)

gamesWhy Games for Language? Well, why not? If you want to learn a foreign language, you have to play around with it, again and again, until the new language gets under your skin.

Games are perfect for that. A “foreign language” isn’t something you cram for a week and then it’s yours. Learning a language is a journey of discovery. Putting the journey into a games format can definitely lighten the experience.

Our Own Experience

The challenge facing us at gamesforlanguage.com is to find ways to make languages learning into a fun game. 

I remember how we enticed our American born sons to learn German. We didn’t just give them the German translation of our daily vocabulary. Stories were key. We read stories to them. We unabashedly made up tales as we talked.

We built on the stories that they invented. All of this in German, with explanations when they were needed. Our sons ended up mastering the German language pretty well.

As the boys were growing up, video and later computer games were becoming enticing activities. How often did I wish that some of these games had a fun and worthwhile component for learning German!

Forward to 2011

So here we are in an age when “Games are creeping into everything” (according to Jesse Schell, game designer, who led research projects at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center).

Why not instill a playful dimension into learning a foreign language? Why not create an online German language course? And now, that’s what we’re doing.

Our language learning games at gamesforlanguage.com are built on the travel adventures of a main character. Traveling certainly is a great incentive to learn a foreign language.

The Benefit of Games

Games can provide short intense challenges with quick closure. Done right, they can put you into a kind of quick “flow learning” that bypasses slugging things out mentally. An online language learning site is a great resource.

You can go there to play games when you feel like it - maybe even on an iPhone while you are waiting or just sitting around. You want to get into the game setting easily and pick up the game where you left off earlier.

In games that I play, I like the visual environment of the game, and I enjoy the sense of challenge. I like getting a score and the feeling that I accomplished something worthwhile. 

All of this adds up. Working on gamesforlanguage.com brings to mind Jane McGonigal’s comment on her page "Gameful," a place where responsible game makers connect: “What all of these projects have in common: they’re dedicated to making some kind of a real positive impact on gamers’ lives and the world around them.”