Learning English with Online Games

This blog is about how Online Games can help you learn English in a very natural and fun way, from the point of view of someone who developed much of his proficiency playing.

We often hear about people saying they were self-taught when learning English or any other language. When we ask about how exactly these people learned, it's common to hear them talk about how they love to spend time listening to music, reading books, and... playing games online.

In my opinion, there are two main reasons why people are able to learn languages very naturally with online games:

  1. Games in general are highly motivating. You always want to overcome the next challenge or pass a difficult level. To do this, it is often necessary to follow instructions, interact with other players and/or search for information in wikis and other dedicated sites. This information may not be in your native language, and so you must teach yourself that language in order to continue playing.
  2. Specifically in Online Games, players must cooperate with each other to achieve common goals. This involves grouping together in parties of many other users, and coordinating the activity that you are all going to do together will require good communication skills. This can be done in written form, using the chat boxes in the game, or also in oral form, using third-party voice communication programs such as Team Speak, Mumble or Ventrilo.

For example, watch how coordinated players can be when they take some time to organize themselves to play EVE Online, a science fiction game:

This kind of coordination requires very good communication and language skills by the group leaders, and also requires everyone to understand what they are supposed to do. That's why gamers often use voice communication softwares. Here are some examples:

I think what happens to most people who learn languages by playing Online Games is that they develop a habit of gaming early in their lives, and as they mature this habit and try more complex games, they end up developing not only language but many other cognitive skills as well. Of course, games should be balanced with other healthy activities such as exercising, reading a book, talking to friends and spending time with family, and that's when most conflicts happen between parents and their children who want to play games all day.

Don't let games become an addiction! Use them as a healthy activity that is both fun and helps you develop important cognitive skills :)

If you'd like to know some more interesting ideas on the relationship betwen games and learning, here are some extra resources:

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