Kids who love playing games, but aren’t coming from English-speaking countries, most often have to play their favorite games listening and using this foreign language. Some of these games like puzzles, hidden objects games or adventures are text based so in order to understand and play them they have to use English dictionary or translate the words on Google. But such games can help these children learn English while they are having fun and aren’t aware they are actually learning a different language.
This model of language learning can also be implemented in classrooms to influence such interest and deep motivation in students to want to learn in this ‘flowing’ state of mind. Video games are a great way to create that flow and when you include them in your regular class activities your students will get used to the fun and enjoy playing and learning, for hours, if you have the time.
There are plenty of different types of video games that can positively influence language learning and with the development of various platforms gamers so dearly love there’s no end to the possibilities for engaging the students in this type of learning of a foreign language.
There’s, for example, this game for a PS3 game called Buzz where up to eight players compete in a quiz game show which can be switched to a number of different world languages. To make the game even better and more creative, you can dedicate one of your classes to prepare with the students your own questions and create quizzes online which you can then upload to be played on the PlayStation. They’ll not only love your classes but they’ll also learn another language through game and fun, which is always the best way of learning. To test your students’ knowledge at the end of the semester, you can create a quiz with questions that cover the subjects learned throughout the semester, and then let the students play the quiz. Those who have learned the most will win the game.
Most educational games unfortunately aren’t fun to play. That’s why you can broaden your searching criteria and look for video games that are engaging, meaningful, and yes, fun in their ways of learning foreign language creatively. You can start with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) video games and then continue with small, browser-based games, which can also be great for a classroom environment because of their accessibility, manageable scope and shallow learning curve.
As in most industries today, the larger the offer, the harder you can find quality, and sadly the same applies to video games too. Finding and selecting these COTS and browser-based games isn’t easy, and in addition to this, you must also look for games that you can fit into a single lesson so you can start and finish them during a single class. Start with games like Quest for the Rest, or 20 questions games, or create conversation and opportunities for writing with Grow Cube.
The development of new technologies, smart phones, tablets, iPads, augmented reality and geotagging provide even more opportunities for us to use video games to better and faster learn different languages. Words cannot describe the experience while playing these new hybrid, situated games – the game and storytelling engine ARIS will at the same time engage the learner in both digital and physical space; projects like Mantra show a completely new direction in which video games are developing that’s gone a long way since the days gaming started. The difference in the opportunities for language learning when playing such 3-dimensional games may not be that significant, but it’s the experience that gamers are addicted to. However, game playing and language learning can definitely go together.