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Can you Play and Learn Languages at the Same Time?

play and learn languages

What is the best way to pick up and learn a new language? If you want to learn a language fast, maybe learning while playing is the right method for you.

However, is it effective to play and learn languages at the same time? Let’s find out if it actually works.

gamification in teaching and learning languages

Gamification in teaching and learning languages

Entertainment has gone a long way from playing board games, watching performances, and physical activities.

As years go by, many people become dependent on the use of technology for amusement.

Many of the benefits of the technology include improving speech and language skills.

With language videos, games, and apps, there are tons of alternatives that kids and adults enjoy.

One of which is playing games while listening or reading sentences in a foreign language.

Moreover, the majority of video games have an English interface with equivalent options for other languages.

So whether you are a foreigner or someone who wants to improve their translation skills into other languages than English, you may want to switch language options from time to time.

Are there benefits when you play and learn languages?

Misconceptions can come about when individuals are unfamiliar with the relationship between playing and learning.

For some, incorporating attractive elements may seem like a distraction rather than a way to motivate the learner.

However, there are numerous benefits of playing games whiles learning languages.

Studies show that gaming and learning languages unite people around the world in understanding differences in culture, perspective, and roles.

Let’s also take a look at the other benefits.

roleplay act scenarios language learn

Playing while learning is time-efficient

Have you ever thought of relaxing while learning something new?

Yes! It isn’t impossible to enjoy and discover new languages with games that allow you to drive a car, type fast, or just memorizing while completing a picture puzzle.

When you play and learn languages, that app should not cram your time to the point that you’ve already lost track of what you are supposed to finish.

It requires enough discipline for both kids and adults not to have too much screen time.

To put into perspective, an adult rarely has time to play games and learn because of responsibilities, workloads, and other priorities.

On the contrary, kids might not prefer games while learning if it isn’t visually appealing for them.

That said, many game developers and testers are trying to make the best program to complete this goal that encourages not only playing and learning but also being aware of their responsibilities in real-time.

Communicating with other learners

Instead of having to talk to an AI or a programmed bot that will just answer linear questions, continued interest in language learning grows in a realistic gaming environment.

According to a study by Cambridge University Press (2012), Japanese players often sign up for MMOs, also known as Massive Multiplayer Online games, because of social interaction.

The popularity of role-playing games from Asian and European countries was a stepping stone for them to venture out into the market of the US.

Hence, it is a great way to learn another language if you can switch to other language options to test your memory and at the same time pick up new words along the way.

Motivation also helps if the community encourages you to become persistent with learning a language.

It is best to choose a community that you have the same interests with. If you already know that the community is toxic, it is better to leave and find something that helps you grow.

gaming conference languages

Improving your linguistic skills by integrating all aspects of language

The best part of gaming is how a learner is trained with all of the four skills of language.

Game developers know how to tickle a brain, from the audio-sensory to visual elements.

But, what it also does is test your reading and speaking ability.

When you see instructions from a game, the language learning process starts in your reading skills.

In-context studying and repetition from scenarios like this will help you memorize new words faster.

Especially, there are many video games today that incorporate foreign words since it doesn’t have an English equivalent.

Even gamers create their own gaming lexicons that help them remember special words in their own native language.

Take a look at these examples:

  • Gamersprache – German gaming lexicon for ” gaming slang
  • ゲーマー (Gēmā) – Japanese gaming lexicon for “game
  • 打機 (Dǎ jī) – Cantonese gaming lexicon for “hit the machine

Boosting your confidence and reducing your anxiety

Game is a psychological activity that many do not realize the implications of how helpful it is for a person’s mental health.

Even if it’s a complex issue, gaming has made a way for people to express themselves freely.

It is said that gamers have more confidence to talk in another language while playing competitive games.

Until recently, only a few research studies have focused on the advantages of playing which reduces stress, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health diseases.

Of course, the gray area in communicating without borders may also expose you to risks such as data theft and cyberbullying.

Even if this topic focuses on language, it is important to be careful with your private information.

Do not disclose anything that may infringe your privacy rights even if it’s related to your language learning.

computer games and learning

Computer games and learning

Development in games started to focus on the lore aspect. Open-world games like World of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls series, and Final Fantasy series.

Even novels are now becoming computerized games, thanks to the huge community of readers wanting to learn the culture, backstory, and fictional languages on many of these materials.

Additionally, various schools are open to using Minecraft, a pixel sandbox video game, for teaching kids how to learn English or other languages.

While the game has gained huge attention for its kid-friendly approach, adults are also hooked because Minecraft can be modded to fit their playing style.

Hence, many similar browser and client-based games that teach languages while enjoying a game are in development due to publishers that highlight the importance of language learning.

Other types of language learning games

What are the common games to learn languages?

You may have already tried Scrabble, Word Up!, and other related apps available for your phone, iPad, computer, and similar gadgets.

Although these are old-school games, there are still many spin-offs for modern versions that make these previously loved games even more exciting to play with.

Let’s review what are the other types of language learning games that you might be using recently.


Traditionally, using flashcards is one of the first gaming methods in learning a foreign alphabet, grammar, or vocabulary.

However, don’t rely on always memorizing to the point that you are not developing anymore.

What most language teachers don’t like when using flashcards is how they can work against you.

That is, if you’ve only memorized a word for its direct meaning and not how it is used per context, you might take longer to actually translate one single sentence.

If you hit the plateau, it is better to challenge yourself with better ways to learn the context in sentences with unknown terms, vocabulary using other resources.

A person that wants to absorb a different language should know what their preference is when using flashcards.

If your goal is only to learn a vocabulary per se, then flashcards are great.

But, learn to know when to advance to the next level if complex paragraphs, jargons, and lexicons interest you.

When using flashcards for language learning, it is important to always self-evaluate.

Learning through language learning gaming apps

If you’re busy or on the go, pressing through words and going through quick quizzes may be the next best thing in learning.

Language apps that are popular today reward you with accomplishment notifications, badges, and even in-app currency.

Many depend on the visual elements and memorization with only head knowledge.

Although linguistic learning using apps and flashcards can improve memory retention and memory recall speed, it might also defeat the purpose of learning and understanding intently.

Be careful! Quick and easy games can become an addiction! Intentional learning requires time, practice, and focus.

play and learn languages with adults

Doing roleplays or acting out scenarios with foreign languages

Parents and kids enjoy using roleplays as a way to communicate with each other through facial gestures, physical movements, and babbling.

But, can adults replicate the same language learning technique when playing and learning?

Rather than being embarrassed, try to create scripts in a foreign language with basic conversational sentences.

You can talk to a close friend or your partner to act out a scenario such as ordering a cup of coffee or traveling to a holiday destination.

Remember, the only person that can help you learn is you!

Can you really play and learn languages without getting distracted?

Most of the time, playing games might distract you from the real essence of learning. So, it is best to balance it out.

Try to set goals on which words you want to learn first, as well as how you can upskill your current language level.

We believe that learners can get the best out of playing and learning languages when using the comprehensible input style.

Comprehensible input puts you in a new situation where you relate foreign words that you hear (radio, conversations, youtube videos, and more) to a language that you already understand.

So, even if you don’t have an idea of what a word means, you can use contextual clues, visual elements, and playing while learning foreign vocabulary and sentences.

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