Sergey Sulimov


Sergey Sulimov


Is it true that children gamers know English better than their peers?

Modern children spend hours in the virtual world of computer games, where English is usually the main means of communication. Most parents, of course, do not support such a hobby of the child, believing that it has a detrimental effect on the psyche and does not bring any benefit. But what if we say that such a hobby will help a schoolchild learn English faster?

Some experts claim that children-gamers have a better command of English compared to their peers. In this article we will try to understand whether this can be believed and how exactly a child can pump up his language skills without memorising grammar rules and new words.

So what is this study?

Scientists from Sweden’s Karlstad University and the University of Oslo in a large-scale study that lasted for three years, found that schoolchildren who play games in English, demonstrate a wider vocabulary and generally better cope with the proposed tests than their peers. 

The study involved more than 5 thousand teenagers from 10 to 12 years old, who spent about 30 minutes a day on social networks, but twice as much on games. Of course, this does not mean that you need to sit at the computer all day long. Moreover, the author of the study, Pia Sundqvist, recognises the dangers of excessive computer games, confirming that they can even lead to addiction. 

How exactly do games improve English?

On a daily basis, a child gamer encounters several game stages that allow him or her to natively learn English – text elements, interface and dialogues with other, usually foreign players. Of course, a child can try to do everything randomly, by trial and error, but this will not allow him to quickly pass the levels and pump his skil. To get into the essence of the game faster, he will have to google the meaning of frequently occurring phrases, thanks to which they will be easily memorised and perfectly replenish the vocabulary.

In addition, all gamers during the game communicate with each other in a special chat room, and the teenager will certainly not want to look stupid against the background of others, especially if he realises that the outcome of the game mission depends on his decisions. 

Well, and in general, the voice-over, which is performed by professional speakers, allows you to learn to understand the speech of native speakers by ear, to navigate in different accents and game slang, which often pass into colloquial speech. For example, the word “nub” – beginner, “bug” – bug from typical gamer terms have moved into everyday communication of both English-speaking and Russian-speaking audiences.

How to make the game process more efficient?

Firstly, it is important to take into account that games should not replace traditional teaching methods that help to understand logic and basic language rules.

Secondly, it is important to choose games taking into account the genre, as it significantly affects their usefulness for language learning. For example, monotonous shooting zombies will be much less effective and useful for both knowledge and the child’s psyche than games with interesting characters and complex gameplay.

But for parents who want to make their child learn rather than spend hours on the computer, they should realise that games can stimulate a child’s interest in learning English. Children see that the process can be fun and engaging, which helps them stay interested and motivated for months and even years. If you want to help your child learn English faster, here is a short list of steps to help you do so effectively:

use one of the combinations: English voiceover with Russian subtitles or Russian voiceover with English subtitles;

motivate your child to keep a dictionary where he or she can write down new phrases and periodically refresh their memory;

draw the child’s attention to games with a simpler language level. Among those in which it will be easier to understand the beginner, we have highlighted “Minecraft”, “The Sims”, “Skyrim”, “Bioshock”, but to play “The Witcher”, “GTA” or “Mass Effect” because of the complex phrases and phraseologies will be difficult for the child.

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