Four difficulty levels on how to use video games to learn English
It is possible to use video games to learn English and we don’t just mean educational games that have been specially designed for this. Sure, taking an English course is a great way to improve your English skills, but what you probably didn't realize is that playing video games can also help improve your skill level. In the same way you can learn English with movies, playing the right video games can help you build vocabulary and confidence whilst having a great time.
Here are 4 recommendations at 4 difficulty levels to help with learning English through video games.
1. Start small with arcade games (Really Easy)
If you are playing something simple that is action and reaction based without much text, still get into the habit of setting the language to English where possible.
This won’t improve your language quickly but the occasional word or phrase in English will help you become more comfortable hearing and reading the language. You will not become fluent like this, but it is an easy first step to take.
2. Build basic and useful vocabulary with The Sims (Easy)
The Sims was mentioned in our How to Learn English survey we did back in 2012 and we agree that it is an excellent choice for a game to help your English.
All of the Sims games are digital dollhouses and centre on building a little virtual family life. As a result you will very quickly learn useful day-to-day vocabulary. This includes household items and furniture, family relationships, activities and job types.
The only downside to this one however is that you will not get used to hearing spoken English, as the Sims themselves speak their own language to each other!
3. Venture online to practise English with others in any online-based game (Medium)
Any MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game will encourage interaction between different players. Even if you are not up to the task of directly communicating with your fellow players, you can still observe how other people are talking to each other.
There are a lot of online games out there now that you can play for free. If you’re into your sci-fi, maybe you want to try the Star Wars-based Old Republic or Star Trek Online. If you’re a comics fan and want to go and chat to Batman, DC Universe Online could be for you. If you fancy a more classical fantasy setting, there is always Guild Wars 2, the Dungeons & Dragons based Neverwinter or Lord of the Rings Online.
4. Dive into deep stories with anything by Telltale Games (Hard)
If you really want to test your English, just about anything by Telltale Games is an excellent choice.
Telltale Games produce very story-focused games with a lot of dialogue and decision making. They are often tense, highly engaging, and the time pressure you are put under to make decisions will force you to see what happens when you make choices. This will help you quickly learn the meaning of things you might be uncertain about.
If you are a TV fan, you might enjoy Telltale’s games based on The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. Graphic novel fans might enjoy The Wolf Among Us and more experienced gamers may enjoy Tales from Borderlands.
You should probably play these in your own language first if that’s an option because they are generally interesting games and you would not want to spoil them for yourself!
I once tried to learn French by playing an adventure game called Spud, but got stuck when I couldn’t understand what three gorillas holding a giant banana were talking about (it was probably the banana). Have you already had any experience in picking up English with video games? Let us know which ones in the comments!