Gaming the System: How Video Games Help You Learn English

Have you tried learning a second language and got fluent in it? If you have, kudos to you because under normal circumstances, that’s really hard to pull off. According to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute, it takes 24 months-- that’s two full years-- of intense study in a controlled environment to learn English. If you have enough time to do that, then good luck! 

But is there an alternative way of learning English in a way that’s fun, exciting, and most importantly, won’t feel like a drag?

Alternative Ways to Learn English

Some people do good in a school setting but many do not. Besides, nobody can actually afford to spend that much time and money learning a new language. (In the same statistical information released by the FSI, what they considered as the easiest languages to learn, like Swahili and Greek, can take at least 44 weeks to learn.) Fortunately, there are other ways to learn English that won’t require you to become a lab rat. 

Here are some alternative techniques that have proven to work often:

1.) Immersion. This approach is often called the “natural method,” because, well, this is how we learned to speak in the first place. Our first language does not require any “teaching” at all and comes off as “natural” because we are spontaneously absorbed in it. We hear it spoken all the time and probably the language used at home-- whether it’s your mom telling your dad to lay off the beer or dad reminding your older sis about the curfew.

So, what’s the point? If you want to learn English, surround yourself with the language. If you’re living in a non-English speaking country, go online, on social media, watch English movies, and join English forums to find people who share the same interests. The advantage of learning English by immersion is it helps you think like a native. It is also easier since you don’t have to think about grammar rules when you’re out there talking to people.

2.) Listening to Music. OK, if you don’t think music is fun, there is seriously something wrong with you. Music is one of those gifts that transcends linguistic barriers.

The wonderful thing about music is that it has this uncanny ability to touch our hearts and souls. It helps you to be in a positive mood while also learning about vocabulary, colloquialisms, grammar, and even spelling. The phrases and expressions used in the latest music reflect the way native speakers think and in effect, it will help you think like a native. The best part about learning English through music is that, more often than not, it naturally sticks to our memory without even trying.

3.) Playing video games. You must be thinking, “you’re kidding, right?” Uh uh. You are reading this correctly: VIDEO GAMES HELP YOU LEARN ENGLISH. Of course, this claim has to be taken into context. Let’s get this straight: The conventional language learning programs will provide you with the necessary foundation when you’re learning a second language. However, playing video games can help fill the gaps, so to speak, in ways that traditional learning can’t.

How Video Games Help You Learn English Quicker

Here are three ways that video games can help you master the English language quicker. 

  • Helps Develop Linguistic Skills

You can’t learn everything in a classroom setting. Alternative learning such as playing video games can fill those gaps. Video games often combine linguistic skills such as speaking, reading, and listening while erasing the fear of committing mistakes that commonly permeate the classrooms.

  • Provides learning from real-world situations

Students learn quicker when they are compelled to apply the information that they are taught in real-world situations. That still works even in the fictional world created in video games. In a way, this concept falls under the “immersion” umbrella. It is no different when a person is forced to interact in English when living in New York. The knowledge students gain through conventional learning coupled with in-context education that video games can provide, will make learning English faster.

  • It’s straight-up fun!

Most courses take many hours in each session, with each session lasting weeks and months. Just the thought of sitting in one of those chairs in a classroom can be stressful! But video games? That’s another story. Video games are stress-busters. It gets rid of anxiety and allows you to socialize while mastering a new language!

What Games to Play to Help You Learn English

According to researcher James Paul Gee, an expert in the field of video games as language-learning tools, role-playing games (RPG) provides a conducive learning space for second-language learners, especially those with special education needs. The rationale behind this is that these kinds of games offer just enough challenges and support to make the gamer comfortable as he takes ownership of the learning process.

However, these elements are not just confined to the RPG genre. Many gamers also favor the unpredictable twists and turns of roguelike games. Such games as Noita, Dicey Dungeons, and Approaching Infinity are among the best Roguelike games on PC, while Gunfire Reborn captivates with its four-player co-op option. 

Interestingly enough, there are Spanish classes that gamify learning by incorporating Minecraft in their studies. If you want to take that route, you will probably appreciate Undermine, a roguelike game that combines classic roguelike elements with that of Minecraft.

Whatever game you decide on to help you learn English, always remember not to be so hard on yourself, but to simply enjoy the process. You’ll eventually get there when you’re ready.

Final Thoughts: How Video Games Help You Learn English

Learning a new language, perhaps English is definitely a tall task. You need to pull out all the stops if you are serious about it. Realistically speaking, the process can drag on for months and months. That doesn’t sound fun, does it? Fortunately, educators and researchers continue to find ways to make learning a second language enjoyable.

One of those ways that is certain to capture your fancy is game-based learning. Yes, people! Playing video games helps you learn English quicker (or any other second language, for that matter). If you are interested in game-based learning and want to experience it for yourself, go for RPG or roguelike games that can present a nice balance of challenges and real-world education!

Information Source: Gammicks - a provider of exclusive game reviews and the latest news from the world of gaming. 


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