How to Learn Languages with Video Games

If you love playing video games and want to learn a new language, then we've got good news for you. Playing video games in foreign languages is a great way to develop your language skills.

The engaging process of diving into the fantasy worlds of video games is optimal for learning new languages. We will explore this further and detail various methods for learning languages with video games.

Moreover, you can engage with video game movies, like Super Mario Bros, to improve your language learning. By the end of this guide, you will know how to use video games to learn and teach languages.

Table of Contents:

  1. Language Learning with Video Games
  2. Methods for Learning Languages with Video Games
  3. Why Learn a New Language
  4. Video Game Teaching in the Classroom
  5. FAQs
  6. Summing Up: How to Learn Languages with Video Games

Language Learning with Video Games

Foreign-language video games are an effective language-learning tool as they immerse you in a world and provide relevant vocabulary in the context of the world. This means you can use the visuals and plot of the games to inform your learning.

Video games that involve a lot of dialogue or decision-making will help you with your listening and reading practice in a new language. If you play multi-player, you can also speak your target language with native speakers online.

While you might never have thought of learning Japanese in the open world of Grand Theft Auto or developing your French language skills with Star Wars, this is actually a very valid and enjoyable way to learn.

Finally, video games will also provide you with valuable insight into other cultures and societies through immersion. Any game set in a realistic city overseas in which you communicate with locals and engage with day-to-day activities will be very informative and educational on a cultural level.

Methods for Learning Languages with Video Games

So, let's discuss how to learn your target language by playing video games.

From engaging with role-playing games in a foreign language to playing collaborative online games with foreign nationals, there are lots of great ways for you to learn while having fun!

And remember, you can also watch video game-related movies, like Super Mario Bros, to develop your target language acquisition.

Lingopie, the streaming service for language learners, helps learners go from beginners to an advanced level in their chosen language through immersion in great TV shows and movies.

Play Role Playing Games

One of the best kinds of games for learning a new language is the role-playing variety. These online games allow you to immerse yourself in a new world full of useful vocabulary and context to help you understand the language.

A great example of a role-playing game is the Walking Dead, in which quick-time decisions affect the entire story.

By role-playing in a foreign language, you can learn the language quickly as you navigate your video game reality. As the video game world has certain key features, you will be hearing the same words over and over, which will help with your language retention.

For instance, you can immerse yourself in the wholesome world of Animal Crossing and set the language to Spanish. So, while you enjoy this social simulation, which functions in real-time, you can learn Spanish as you engage in conversation and send and receive letters from others in the game.

Play with People Online who Speak other Languages

If you want to improve your spoken language skills and meet native speakers of your target language, you should play multi-player games that require you to communicate with others in the game.

By giving commands, asking questions, and generally chatting while you play, you can develop your confidence and vocabulary in a new language. Whether you are voice chatting on League of Legends or messaging on Fortnite, you can play the best video games online and learn at the same time.

When you play games in a different language, you are exposed to vocabulary related to that fantasy world. But when you chat with other players as you 'game' together, you can use more day-to-day vocabulary as well.

So, multi-player gaming is a great way to optimize your learning. You just need to find someone whose native language is your target language, or find someone learning the same language as you, and get playing today!

After the game time is done, you can keep up your learning by engaging with related movies, TV shows, comic books, and other foreign-language media that might help you learn.

For instance, if you love Mario Kart, you will also enjoy the Super Mario Bros movie. This movie is a great language-learning tool, as it has been released with full audio in multiple languages.

The film features a lot of great everyday vocabulary and it keeps the excitement of the video game world alive.

Learning languages with stories is actually much more effective than learning grammar rules and vocabulary in isolation from a textbook. So, let the great voice acting of Super Mario Bros help you acquire the language simply while having fun.

You can also check out any board games or YouTube videos related to your favorite video game for more language practice.

Many YouTubers release new videos every week about their favorite video games. You could find a YouTuber who is a native speaker of your target language and engage with their content to develop your game-related vocab.

Play Word Games

If you are not keen on diving into imaginary battles or complex worlds full of fantasy and intrigue, you might prefer to play word games. These games tend to be more tranquil and give you longer to think.

Word games are a great way to learn new words and challenge your brain. You have a few options when it comes to linguistic puzzle games. Check out Scrabble, Wordle and Words with Friends if your focus is on learning new vocabulary words.

Or, try Grammar Bubbles and Parts of Speech Sorting if learning grammar rules is higher up on your list of priorities. These grammar games are designed to help you learn a new language.

If you search "grammar games in [language]" on your search engine of choice, you should find some great free options for language practice.

Immerse Yourself in a Virtual World

It is also a lot of fun to learn languages with VR and the metaverse. Look for games that involve a totally immersive experience in a virtual world and watch your everyday reality fade away for a while.

The most useful type of VR games for language learning will involve a lot of communication. In fact, there is a couple of virtual reality dialogue-based games specifically designed for learners of other languages.

Search for Mondly VR or VirtualSpeech to explore these great options. In these VR games, you can explore a vast world that reflects the one we live in and complete day-to-day tasks. Chat with a commuter on the train or order a coffee at a bar in your VR language game of choice.

Even VR games not specifically designed for language acquisition will benefit your learning as they are immersive and contextualize vocabulary with great detail. With the language options, you can ensure that the full audio is in your target language.

You can also develop a sense of a country's culture through engagement with VR. If a game was made in Japan, for instance, you can immerse yourself in a Japanese virtual reality and explore the cuisine, public transport, societal ideas, and language all while having fun.

Why Learn a New Language

As you can see, video games are excellent tools for language acquisition, the development of crucial skills, and even exposure to different cultures.

But, why bother learning a language at all? Well, knowing a second language will set you apart from the competition in the world of work. And it will provide you with more opportunities to work overseas or seek promotions.

Moreover, you can study or teach languages abroad. This can be a very formative experience and a great way to meet like-minded people from other backgrounds.

Knowing how to use another language opens many doors for you socially, professionally, and personally. The more you know about other societies, cultures, and ethnic groups, the more you can appreciate the world and your place in it.

Now, let's have a brief look at how to incorporate video games into language teaching.

Video Game Teaching in the Classroom

If you are a language teacher, you might want to know how you can use these games in the classroom. The more diverse and dynamic your classes are, the more likely your students are to retain new information.

One method is to begin the language lesson with a word game that all of your students play together. This is a fun and dynamic way to establish the theme for the day. The vocabulary in the game should be relevant to that day's learning.

Alternatively, you could introduce a video game relevant to the lesson as a reward for good work at the end of class. Allow students to play for five minutes to unwind after a lesson, but ensure the game features useful language.

You can also set homework that involves playing online games, provided they are free and easy to access for the students in your class. You will need to assess their access to computers and the internet.

Some schools employ VR learning in the classroom and have high-tech consoles to optimize language acquisition. This is great if your school has the resources. But if not, you can still access simple but effective games like Wordle online.

The first game you try with your class might not excite them, but this is a process of trial and error. As an English teacher, you might find that your students love Grammar Bubbles, while the French class down the hall is obsessed with the French-language version of Super Mario.


How do you learn a language by playing video games?

By playing video games in a different language, you can immerse yourself in the new language and pick up useful vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation tips.

The more you play video games in your target language, the more naturally it will come to you and you can start speaking with confidence.

How do you find video games in your target language?

Most games will have different language options, so you can choose the one you want to learn. Just make sure to select the right option for the language you want to learn.

For instance, if you want to learn Brazilian Portuguese, make sure you are playing a game developed for Brazilians, rather than the European Portuguese audience.

How do video games help the learning process?

Playing your favorite games in your target language will help the process of learning new vocabulary and grammar as you learn best when having fun.

Moreover, game developers have designed some games specifically with language learning in mind. Meanwhile, other games can help you purely through immersion in a well-written foreign-language story.

What is the best video game for language learning?

The best video games for learning languages are the ones specifically designed for this purpose. However, any game that features useful vocabulary in your target language and is immersive will help you to develop your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills.

Summing Up: How to Learn Languages with Video Games

Now that you know why video games are such a great language-learning tool, you are ready to start learning a new language while having fun!

We have provided some tips for effective language learning with video games and related media. If you love the characters and worlds of popular video games, you should also engage with the movies and TV shows based on the best games.

Watch Super Mario Bros in any of the 30+ languages in which it was released or head over to Lingopie for more awesome TV and movie content in different languages. Have fun learning languages with the best video games and movies!

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