Posted on by Peter Rettig

Learning a Second Language Like a Child?

appleWe call this "an apple" in English, "una manzana" in Spanish, "une pomme" in French, and "una mela" in Italian. If you were a child, learning one of these languages, you would likely know this well before your second birthday!

Many language courses promote their method of learning a new foreign language with slogans such as "Learn a new language like child!". While there are obviously many aspects of "learning" that children and adults share, there are also significant differences. In fact, "learning like a child" really tries to create the image for you of a young child learning his or her first language, seemingly effortlessly. And who wouldn't also want to learn in a similar way?

A recent blog we published on GEOS Language Plus : LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE LIKE A CHILD (sorry, we noticed that the link does not work any longer! explains why there are major differences between a young child learning his/her first language and an adult learning his/her second (or third) language.

Posted on by Peter Rettig

Play n' Learn Spanish with a Conversation in an Airplane

La Sagrada FamiliaAnybody who plans to travel to a Spanish-speaking country can benefit from our Spanish travel story. The story begins in an airplane as our young traveler David flies from Boston to Barcelona. His neighbor in the airplane starts a conversation with him. If you you don't quite understand it at the beginning just follow this YouTube clip and you will at the end. The clip shows only a few of the games that let you understand, read, speak, and write the words and phrases of this travel story - but you can try out our demos to see and hear fro yourself.   

Posted on by Peter Rettig

Why did Mark Twain like Heidelberg?

HeidelbergAnybody who plans to travel to a German-speaking country can benefit from our German travel story. While in Heidelberg our young "hero" Michael discovers why Mark Twain may have liked the name of the town. And - if you can understand the dialogue in this short YouTube clip - you may discover this as well - and even surprise your German friends or acquaintances... 

Posted on by Peter Rettig

GamesforLanguage works on iOS6 devices

iPadFinally!

GamesforLanguage works on iOS6 mobile devices!

Now you can access our four(4) language programs (German1, French1, Spanish1, and Italian1) not only on your desktop or laptop, but also on your iOS6 mobile devices. 

This means you don't need to go through the Apple store to use GamesforLanguage.com. You would want to have a good Wi-Fi connection; just open your Safari browser, login to our site and start playing and learning. While in our opinion the screen on the iPhone is too small for certain games, Memory Game, Snap Clouds, Shootout and others may still work for some users. We prefer the regular iPad and iPad mini.

Start Learning a New Language - playfully...

 

Posted on by Peter Editor

Watertown Patch: A New Year's Resolution

If you didn't read our blog, here is the short version of the what to consider, if you make learning a new foreign language your New Year's resolution...:Sorry: the Watertown Patch post cannot be found any longer, but here is the original post

Posted on by Peter Rettig

September 2012 Newsletter

If you have been wondering why you have not heard more about ourPascal's book cover mobile applications, here is the reason why: For the last few months, our CTO – who also happens to be our son – has been working on his first book, “Professional HTML5 Mobile Game Development”. Both the paperback and Kindle edition are now available on Amazon.

We are currently working with Pascal on incorporating many of the ideas and games described in his book into new games for mobile and touchscreen devices, including iPhones, Ipads, Android, and WP7.5. Players will be able to use these games independently or in connection with our currently four language courses.

Also, while we are continuing to work on a mobile application for our main courses, we will change our payment structure to a three month subscription for $10, with no automatic renewal. (There will be no change for our current customers.)

We'll keep you updated on our progress with links to our mobile games as they are being published.

The GamesforLanguage Team

Posted on by Peter Editor

July 2012 Newletter

Why we use "The Story"...

Nearly every day we receive google alerts about a new online game or app that promises to make language learning easier and more fun. Some recent ones were: “Blanca goes to School, Question It, San Jiten 3D Game, GoGoLingo, uSpeak.” Many of these language learning games are word games, and/or geared towards younger children with vocabulary appropriate to those age groups.

Language Learning Fun and Gamification

One of the more successful iPad apps for adults, “Mindsnacks,” teaches the words and phrases of a large number of topics - from numbers, colors, months, body parts, greetings, time/date etc. - with entertaining games and a good reward system. (While this is a “fun” program, the lack of a recording option does not let you check your pronunciation.)

A recent entry, “Duolingo,” is trying a new approach that combines traditional reading, translating, speaking, and writing exercises with well-thought-out gamification elements and the challenge “to help translate the web.”

Learning a Language with “The Story”

GamesforLanguage has chosen an approach that uses a narrative which gradually unfolds for the learner. It’s the story of a young “hero” who travels to the country where the language is spoken, meets friends and relatives there, and makes new friends. (To the right: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spanish 1, Scene 2.4)

By reading, hearing, practicing, and recording the words, phrases, and sentences that are used in “The Story” in fast moving games, the learner immediately acquires a very diverse and useful vocabulary. In essence, the learner is challenged to discover “The Story.” And so, rather than focusing on specific “topics,” we teach typical phrases and sentences that you would hear and use every day during your travels. Based on our own experience, we believe that this approach is particularly effective for quickly acquiring the tools for communicating in a foreign language.

The GamesforLanguage Team

Posted on by Peter & Ulrike Rettig

Our Spain trip ends in Madrid...

Giralda, SevilleWe've arrived in Madrid for the last week of our Spain trip. In the more than seven weeks to date, we have just seen a small part of this country, but are taking many impressions with us.

After our time in Barcelona, which we enjoyed very much (and which also gave us some insights into the Catalan language and political struggle, see our blog...) we traveled south. With visits to Granada with its marvelous Alhambra, and to Sevilla with its Giralda (left), Alkazar and Torre del Oro, we followed in the steps of our Spanish 1 “hero” David - and we learned much about the long and often violent history of Spain.

We also visited Aranjuez and the summer palace oParque de Retirof Spanish kings so we could utter the words: “Die schönen Tage von Aranjuez sind nun zu Ende” - the first sentence of Schiller’s play “Don Carlos” (“The pleasant days of Aranjuez are now over”).

While in Madrid, we are also following in David‘s footsteps - indeed our apartment is in walking distance of all the places mentioned in Level 6 of Spanish 1: Parque del Retiro (see picture on the right with the monument of Alfonso XII), the Prado, and even the Plaza de España and the “Museo Chichote” (a bar frequented in earlier years by film stars and other famous folks). There are more museums in Madrid than we can visit in our time here, but we certainly are trying our best.

And equally important, our stay in Spain has given us ample opportunity to try out our Spanish and to collect new ideas both for our Spanish 1 as well as for our future Spanish 2 course...

Posted on by Peter Editor

May 2012 Newsletter

 

The great advantage of an online language program such as GamesforLanguage.com, as compared to language textbooks or CDs, is our ability to immediately and constantly improve our program. Early users will have noticed a number of changes over the last few months:

 

Implemented Changes

We've moved "The Story": In the easy first Scene - where the flight attendant asks our "hero" what he would like to drink - the dialog of "The Story" appears right at the beginning. However, for some users, listening to “The Story” without knowing the vocabulary, was frustrating. It therefore now follows the vocabulary games for the next 17 Scenes. Users will have acquired a vocabulary of around 350 words by the end of Level 3 (after 18 Scenes), and will now be able to guess the meaning of the next dialog. "The Story" will therefore appear again at the beginning of each Scene with Level 4.

Verb Picks: Following the suggestion of some users, we've added a simple conjugation game.

We've expanded the Memory Game: The initial Memory game now includes all new vocabulary (not just 8 key items). We were at first reluctant to overload the learner, but as we ourselves learned Spanish (see this blog and others that follow), we felt that each and every new word should be practiced.

We've added Word Hero: This recall game practices the vocabulary of the previous Scene.

We've added Recall and Record: In this game, the user recalls the vocabulary of a Scene of one (1) Level (i.e. 6 Scenes) earlier, and practices their pronunciation again in phrases and sentences.

 

Changes in the works

Downloadable grammar sheets: Not all users are interested in more detailed grammar instructions relating to the phrases and sentences of "The Story." However, for those who do, we're planning to offer downloadable, targeted "grammar sheets."

Personalized vocabulary list/game: We're working on a game that will allow users to create (then add/delete) and practice a personal vocabulary list.

Story audios: We'll shortly have mp3 audios of all scenes available for download. This way users can also listen to "The Story" on the road.

 

We’ve changed our mind!

Although apps have been the hot item for a while now and we already had a prototype in the works, we've changed our mind. We were growing weary of the many issues with apps, including having to wait 14 days for Apple to approve any changes and needing separate applications for Apple and Android.

We are working on a “responsive” website that tailors its display for optimal viewing on your device, whether mobile or desktop. “Responsive” design is quite new, but we are fortunate enough to have a “crack” developer on our team – our son Pascal – who just implemented such a “responsive” website for another start-up, www.Fundraise.com. Look for a new design and website for gamesforlanguage.com, which will work on all devices, in the coming months!

     

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