Growing up, I always wanted to learn another language. But coming from a low income household in the UK, it wasn’t an easy task.
Neither of my parents graduated from high school, let alone college, and speaking other languages was far off their to-do list.
We had no money for fancy holidays abroad and there wasn’t enough money to invest in language courses.
Before there were free apps like Duolingo and Memrise and the internet was just getting popular, there wasn’t much standing in the way of self-study.
Today I speak four languages fluently. In addition to my mother tongue English, I speak and read German, Japanese and French.
One of the key factors in my success with languages has been video games. So they could help you too.
There is a myth that learning a language at a young age is the only way or that some people are just naturally talented.
Like most British children, I learned my first foreign language, German, in high school and I found it extremely difficult.
The words just wouldn’t stick and the grammar was certainly overwhelmed.
My grades in school weren’t impressive, and German was usually my worst grade.
However, I loved video games from a young age and always tried to play as much as possible whenever possible.
Germany has always been a gaming hotspot, with thousands of people investing heavily in gaming.
I bought games on school trips and although they were in German I tried my best to play them.
Many online game walkthroughs were written by avid German gamers and I fought my way through them, driven by my desire to play.
The turning point for German came when I met a German who played games online and later became my friend.
The relationship didn’t last long, but practicing speaking, reading and writing with him in German every day for six months was certainly a boost to my skills.
I studied German at university and then decided to move abroad to learn another language.
In the end I decided to live in Japan. I had never traveled to Asia before and Japan is the world’s largest video game producer.
Nintendo and Sony both hail from Japan, and many games made there never made it to the West.
As I learned to speak Japanese on a daily basis, reading and writing the literal thousands of Japanese characters known as “kanji” seemed impossible.
I love Pokémon and kids games in Japan are written in simple Japanese using simple words and phrases.
When I learned to read Japanese, I started playing the Pokémon games I knew and loved, and mostly understood the story because I’d played it so many times.
As my confidence grew, I decided to play more difficult games and ended up registering for the Japanese language proficiency test.
Looking at the newspaper, I knew I had a lot of work to do on my reading skills, so I started playing a visual novel, Digimon Cyber Sleuth Hacker’s Memory, in my spare time.
Although I didn’t understand all the words, the most common ones started to stick, and I passed the reading portion of the notoriously tough exam with perfect marks.
Even when I was in Japan I was heavily involved in the gaming community and doing fan translations of games coming out for my friends back home.
Eventually I moved back to the UK and started working in games.
Both my German and Japanese skills were highly regarded in the industry as I was able to access and translate news from these countries myself.
As not many people in the UK are bilingual, I was often able to get gaming news from these two popular gaming industries first.
However, there was one more language that seemed essential for those who wanted to know everything about gaming: French.
Canada – and more specifically the French region of Québec – is home to a number of important game developers.
Companies like Ubisoft are based here and many of their exclusive interviews are conducted entirely in French.
Not only that, but France has its own growing industry, including companies like Quantic Dream.
As a fan of games like Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, I started reading about their director, David Cage, in French.
I wanted to practice my skills and ended up writing a biography about him, entirely in French, with quotes he had given in interviews.
Over time I have read many gaming articles in the language and slowly built language skills by translating information from them.
Language learning is all about repetition and practice.
You are far more likely to continue using a language if you use it when participating in something you love. To me, these are video games.
Whether you are a gamer, movie buff or even a celebrity fanatic, pursuing this hobby on a global scale will immerse you in other languages.
If you’ve never had success trying to learn a language, try searching for things related to your favorite hobby.
You might be fluent before you know it.
Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9419459/language-learning-video-games/ I speak four languages, so video games helped me with that