Learning a new language isn’t easy, in fact, it’s generally considered to be pretty damn difficult for adults and school children alike. Luckily, in the modern digital age learning is at least more fun than it used to be, and there are a wealth of tech-savvy options available.
You can learn via videos on platforms like YouTube or Vimeo, learn through watching foreign films, listen to podcasts or audio-books on your phone or in your car or download one of a wealth of smartphone apps aimed at making learning more fun and digestible.
But have you ever considered learning a language through video games? More and more people are now taking this approach, augmenting a more traditional methodology with something a little more fun. The interactive storytelling and engaging content delivered in video-games is a perfect complement to a conventional approach to learning, and can greatly improve your chances of successfully learning a language.
This interaction – particularly in story-heavy titles – is what really makes gaming an ideal choice for learning. You need to understand the story in order to enjoy it and progress, and playing in another language means you need to use that language in order to finish the game. This is gamification in its purest form, and it’s been shown to improve retention and engagement in countless different formats.
This is before you even consider the social and online elements of gaming, which can add another dimension to your learning. Playing via connected consoles or PCs allows you to interact with other players – either via voice or text – and gives you an additional opportunity to immerse yourself in the language you’re trying to learn in a social setting that’s also a lot of fun.
So why don’t we take a handful of examples – in this case, to help you learn French. France is the most popular tourist destination in the world, and a big player in the gaming industry. The country boasts a wealth of talented developers and writers, and is often used as the setting for popular titles (think Hitman or Assassin’s Creed).
So, if you’re planning a trip to France in the next year or two and want to brush up on the language, here are four superb games you can play in French to help you with your learning:
Heavy Rain (2010)
A fantastic example of the ‘interactive story’ we referenced earlier, Heavy Rain is a cinematic game that presents you with choices to make in order to progress the story. It features a ton of cinematic sections and a lot of dialogue, making it ideal for playing in French. I would recommend turning the subtitles on, as it makes it easier to get a grip of what’s being said.
The first Dishonored game is not only something of a modern masterpiece (and phenomenal fun to play), but it’s also available to play in French. There’s a ton of dialogue in the game which will make for great listening practice, but you don’t always need to understand it in order to be able to play. If you’re not too good with the language just yet, this might be a good option as you can easily combine learning with enjoying the game, without being severely limited if you don’t catch everything that’s being said.
Life is Strange (2015)
Another game that fits into the interactive story category, Life Is Strange is a hugely popular and engaging title that tasks you with investigating the disappearance of a student at an Oregon high school. Although the audio can only be played in English (as far as I’m aware), you can change all the subtitles and text to French. This makes it a good in-between option if you’re not ready to play something that relies on your understanding completely in another language, but still want to practice while you play.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014)
Not only is this a great game, but it’s sent in Paris during the French Revolution. This makes it an ideal option if you’re really looking for that immersive experience, and allows you to learn some French history while you’re practicing your language skills.