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Learning A Foreign Language Through Educational Games

Aug 17, 2007
If you have children of your own, or if you have a little brother or sister that you've watched growing up, you might have noticed how they started learning your native language. The first words they usually speak out are the ones that they come into contact the most often, usually the name of their parents, parental appellatives such as "mama" or "papa" or "dada" and so forth. Later on, as they are encouraged to express verbally, their vocabulary base will consist of words that they meet in their "daily activities", which for most children simply include eating, sleep and... playing. This is where I actually wanted to bring the discussion to, learning a language through playing and especially through educational games that are specifically aimed for this purpose.

Since most children follow the above mentioned pattern when learning their native language many scientists claim that simulating the process at an older age can produce the same learning effects with a foreign language. The reason for this is that the brain already got used to that specific type of learning and it will adapt easier when confronted with a similar situation later on in life. That's why learning a foreign language through children's games has become increasingly popular among adults, despite the slight awkwardness of the situation. Flashcard games are such an example, a flashcard being a small piece of material with a picture of an item printed on it and a related word (or small text) describing the picture. The image-text correlation is extremely potent when having to memorize words. Using flashcards is a good way to start building the basic vocabulary for the language you're learning and it gives you a first contact with the language pronunciation (you'll need a dictionary for this of course).

Another great way to learn a foreign language is by playing computer games. Although most games are in English (and if you're reading this, you already know English I assume...) some computer games have translated versions for specific languages (mostly German, Spanish, French or Italian). If you can get a copy of one of these translated games it could be a great way to start learning that specific language and have fun at the same time.

A study exists in this sense, where a young English boy that couldn't speak any language but his native one was invited to play a popular online PC game on a French server. Although he was extremely confused at first, the constant contact with the other human players in the game, combined with a natural correlation between what he saw on the screen and the game chat gradually helped him understand the French language. The game experience was almost like throwing him in the middle of say, Paris, with no knowledge of the French language. After living in a foreign environment, hearing and reading a particular language at all times and instinctively correlating words with actions and images one actually starts learning that particular language, a fact proven by the above experiment. This just proves that online educational games (well not necessarily educational ones, but simply "games") may yet become the future language learning centers of tomorrow. To the same extent, millions of players all around the world learn and perfect their English language skills while playing the numerous online games available today.

Of course, there are still "classic" educational games out there that you can try out. Some sites offer several such educational games for languages ranging from English, German, Spanish or Italian to Polish, Romanian, Turkish or Ukrainian (and many more). If you're thinking about beginning to learn a new language, these educational games might prove to be starting point that you need. Some are actually fun and quite addictive and they are a surefire way towards boosting your vocabulary in that particular language.
About the Author
Increase your foreign language vocabulary at http://www.InternetPolyglot.com by playing online games. The site contains thousands of lessons in different languages from English, Spanish, French, Russian to Hindi, Turkish, Ukrainian and many others.
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