Gaming is not just for fun. Some parents may baulk at an article that could suggest that an extension to the amount of time their progeny can spend playing the likes of Fortnite, Minecraft or PUBG, but I would suggest the sceptical read on to learn about some of the linguistic boosts gaming can offer.
Language skills in children
Competition in young children is a great motivating force, so using it in language learning via gaming is a great way to improve success rates. Many educational (and fun) games have diverse ways in which children can work on their language skills without it feeling like work. Some children can struggle to grasp the concept of wh- questions (why, what etc.) and gaming can be a great way to improve their abilities in this area.
Gaming can be a great mechanism through which to learn vocabulary and sentence structure. You can ask your children about their game and encourage them to describe their actions and check their sentence structure when they describe tricky situations and how they overcame them. If you have more than one child at a console or computer or facilitate online play then gaming can be a fantastic way to build social language skills as they navigate co-op modes of games and have to put strategies into words.
Improving foreign language skills through gaming
Through the continual growth and improvement of online gaming platforms and options there are a vast number of gamers the world over who constantly meet and interact with other gamers from an immense variety of countries, covering multiple distinct languages. This has led to gamers being placed in situations where it can increase their chances in the game if they can understand the language used by their co-gamers. At times even those you are playing against may taunt you in their own tongue and having a basic grasp of the language can then work in your favour.
It’s not only in online interactive modes that gaming can improve one’s language skills. I recently met a fellow FIFA addict who insists on playing the game with the commentary set to Spanish. Not only European Spanish either, but the Latin American Spanish option. As a Spanish speaker myself (Castellano) I found it incredibly amusing hearing my friend reel off some commentary with an Argentinian touch! And yet this does give a great example of how gaming can be used to soak up another language.
In addition to learning a foreign language as a side effect of playing your favourite games, there are also dedicated games that are designed with learning foreign languages as the objective. Apps such as MindSnacks, are a great example. This app makes for a great conversational and vocabulary aid in a wide range of foreign languages. It offers several different games designed to help you learn the language of your choice. Ivy League instructors are behind the design and you can try some lessons / games for free.