Monday, July 17, 2017

5 Brilliant Resources to Gamify Language Learning by Karen Dikson

Kids have a natural tendency to learn new languages quickly and effectively. As we grow up, we somehow lose that capacity. We become stuck with grammar rules, syntax structures, and other complex aspects of language learning. Each of us approaches a new language differently. The results depend on the way our brains were organized before we started learning the language.           

There are three main aspects of each language:

  • Vocabulary (the way concepts are expressed verbally)
  • Grammar (the way the words are organized in a sentence)
  • Phonology (the way the letters and words sound in speech)

Traditional language learning is based on mastering all these aspects through lessons and practice sessions. That approach is not inspiring. Whether it’s an adult or a kid we’re talking about, the language learner needs something to engage them and make them committed. Gamification may be the solution. 

Andrew Peters, an English language tutor at Best Essays, explains how games speed up the process of mastering a second language: “When we say that mastering a second language is always challenging, we don’t mean the process should be boring. On the contrary: it should be fun and engaging. It’s about time for teachers, tutors, and language learners themselves to step away from the boring learning techniques and explore gamification.”

Are you in? We’ll suggest 5 great resources that enable you to gamify the language learning process.

1. MindSnacks

MindSnacks gives you several mini games that help you learn Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Chinese, and Japanese. In addition, the tool includes math, SAT vocab, and kids’ vocab games. Each of these games comes as a separate app, which you can install on your phone and play on a daily basis.

The games prompt you to recognize definitions, errors, and correct spelling. They include visual and audio elements, as well as lessons that cover all basic concepts of your target language.

2. GameZone

If English is your target language, it’s hard to choose a single game and suggest it as the best one. That’s why we’re suggesting GameZone - a website that gives you tons of educational games to choose from.

You’ll find simple games that help you master English vocabulary, spelling, and grammar at all levels. This is a UK site, so keep in mind that the linguistic rules are slightly different than the ones of American English.

3. Bravolol

This tool currently provides lessons and games for 18 languages, including French, Turkish, English, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Greek, and more. You’ll get phrasebooks that teach you how to handle any situation when you’re required to speak the target language. In addition, you get a wide selection of bilingual dictionaries.

When the game asks you to pronounce a word or phrase, you can compare it to the way it sounds when pronounced by a native speaker. That’s a great way to practice through repetition without getting bored.

4. Babbel

Babbel is a serious language learning tool. It gives you programs for learning 13 languages, including German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, and more. The aspect that makes it different from all other language learning apps is personalization. You can choose to learn things that are relevant to your goals. If, for example, you plan to travel to France, you can avoid mastering the concepts of business communication.

Although Babbel focuses on learning and practice, there’s still a “game feel” to it. You’ll be challenged to make progress every day.

5. Duolingo

Duolingo is becoming a standard in self-paced language learning. You can choose from over 20 languages to learn from, and the list is constantly being updated. The lessons feel like games, but they still help you master spelling, speech, translation, syntax, and all other aspects of the language you choose.

Duolingo records how many days you learn and practice in a row, so the calendar will keep you motivated.

Did you know that people from all around the world spent 3 billion hours a week playing video games? It’s no secret that we’re attracted by games. The question is: how can we make them more useful? When you find a gamified language learning program and you turn it into a daily habit, it will be a positive addiction.

All it takes is less than 30 minutes a day. If you don’t have 30 minutes, you can practice/play for 10 minutes. The point is to keep going. If you stick with this habit, it won’t take too long before you notice a huge difference in the way you communicate in the language you chose.

Karen Dikson is a tech-savvy college instructor and blogger from New Jersey. Her work has been published on Huffington Post and other educational resources. She enjoys helping her students achieve their most ambitious goals. Follow Karen on Twitter.

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