Language Learning Video Games for Kids: A Guide for Parents
Language learning video games? Yep, we’re serious! Some video games can be powerful tools to help kids learn new languages.
But how does this method of language practice work? Which games are most suitable for your child? How do you ensure your child is actually learning from video games? Good questions!
In this blog post, we’ll address these questions, share age-appropriate game recommendations, and offer guidance on maximizing the benefits of video games for language learning.
We’ll also share information on how you can get a free online language class for kids.
The benefits of using video games for language learning
You’re right. Many video games can be mindless distractions for kids, but there’s also research suggesting some video games can be valuable tools for language learning.
Sounds like a win-win situation for both you and your child, don’t you think? Let’s explore why you might want to consider video games for language learning!
Cognitive development and problem-solving skills
Video games stimulate cognitive development and problem-solving skills, especially those with complex narratives and puzzles. They require players to think critically, make decisions, and strategize to progress.
When immersed in a game’s virtual world, children often encounter linguistic challenges that encourage them to apply their language skills. Whether deciphering in-game clues, understanding character dialogues, or interpreting instructions, these cognitive demands contribute to language comprehension and analytical thinking.
Motivation and engagement in the learning process
One of the primary challenges in teaching a new language to children is maintaining their motivation and interest. With their interactive and rewarding nature, video games naturally hold a child’s attention.
The excitement of conquering levels, achieving goals, and unlocking new content promotes intrinsic motivation to understand and communicate in the target language. Unlike traditional learning methods, where the process can sometimes feel challenging, video games transform language learning into a leisure activity.
Context-rich language learning environments
Video games are miniature universes filled with diverse contexts and scenarios. These virtual environments provide a context-rich platform for language learning.
Children encounter language within the context of gameplay, which enhances their comprehension and retention of new words and phrases. The practical application of language in problem-solving, negotiation with in-game characters, and achieving objectives reinforces their language skills.
Examples of video games for language learning
To make language learning a fun and interactive experience for kids, we’ve categorized suitable games based on age groups: 3-6, 6-12, and 12-15.
Let’s explore these categories and discuss how each game can support your child’s language-learning journey!
Age-appropriate games for kids ages 3-6
Hello World is a gaming website specifically designed for young language learners. Its colorful and interactive games are excellent for children just starting to learn a foreign language.
These games focus on fundamental language skills such as letter recognition, basic vocabulary, and simple sentence structures. By engaging with Hello World’s games, your child can develop essential language abilities while having fun in a safe online environment.
Animal Crossing is a simulation game that can be suitable for young children when played with guidance. While not originally designed for language learning, parents can change the language setting to the target language and use the game to introduce and reinforce vocabulary.
In the game, players interact with anthropomorphic animals and engage in various activities that involve reading and comprehension. You can play alongside your children, discussing the in-game text and helping them understand the language elements.
Age-appropriate games for kids ages 6-12
Minecraft is a virtual sandbox that offers a unique learning experience for children. Beyond its creative building and exploration aspects, players can modify the game to incorporate language learning. Kids can practice their language skills while learning to navigate the game’s world, read signs, and interact with other players in the target language.
Pokemon video games are popular among children worldwide. You can encourage their children to play Pokemon games in the target language. While the primary focus of the games is on capturing and training Pokemon creatures, the game often contains lots of text and dialogue. These elements can help develop core language skills, including reading comprehension and vocabulary expansion.
Age-appropriate games for kids ages 12-15
Influent is a language-learning game designed for older children and teenagers. This game immerses players in a 3D environment where they can explore and interact with objects labeled with their corresponding words in the target language.
The Sims is a life simulation game series that can be engaging for older children. You can encourage language practice for your child by having them play The Sims in the target language. While the primary goal is life simulation, the game includes social interactions, reading tasks, and decision-making scenarios that involve language use.
Note on age ratings
While these games have age ratings indicating they’re okay for children in the designated age groups, you should be aware that the content may vary. You may find that some of these games are not suitable for your children.
Therefore, reviewing the game content and considering your child’s maturity level before allowing them to play is important. Additionally, parental involvement in the gaming experience can help ensure that the content is appropriate and educational for your child’s age and language proficiency.
Tips to make the most of language learning video games
Engaging your child in language learning through video games can be an educational experience, but guidance is essential. Here are some strategies to ensure the most productive use of language-learning video games.
Your active participation is key. While allowing independent play is fine after ensuring the content is appropriate, periodically check in with your child. Ask about their progress, encourage questions, and discuss their gaming experiences.
Set realistic goals
Establish achievable language learning goals for your child. Whether it’s learning a set number of new words or understanding basic phrases, these goals can provide structure and motivation to support game play.
For younger children, take on the role of narrator if you speak the target language to enhance vocabulary and comprehension. As they play, describe the action, characters, and events in the target language.
Maintain a language journal where your child records new words or phrases they’ve encountered while gaming. Encourage them to use the vocabulary words they learn in real-life conversations.
Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings of the games your child plays. For some games, you may want to customize settings to limit their exposure to unwanted content.
Use parental control features available on gaming platforms and devices. These controls can help monitor and restrict gaming time, ensuring a healthy balance between screen time and other activities.
Video games can be an excellent way to keep language learning fun and engaging for your child. However, video games will never provide enough input to help your child become bilingual or multilingual!
That’s why we recommend supplementing all language learning methods with regular language classes led by experienced, native-speaking instructors.
At LingoCircle, we offer online language classes with:
- Experienced teachers. LingoCircle has a team of experienced, passionate, and native-speaking teachers who specialize in online language teaching for children ages 3-15. Our educators also understand young learners’ unique needs and challenges, making the language-learning process engaging and effective.
- Interactive lessons. LingoCircle’s classes are interactive and dynamic. Our teachers use a variety of engaging activities, games, and multimedia to keep children excited about learning. The interactive nature of their lessons ensures that your child is actively involved in the learning process.
- A fun learning environment. Learning should be enjoyable, and that’s precisely what LingoCircle offers! Our classes create a fun and supportive environment where kids can thrive. With peers from around the world, your child will not only learn a new language but also experience the joy of connecting with others.
Want to see if online language classes are suitable for your child? Click here to get your first class for free!
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