Weekly language learning roundup – September 08, 2014

language learning roundup 8 September 2014

Here are just three of the interesting language-related articles I’ve read this past week – well actually, one of them is a video 🙂

I hope you find them interesting and useful.


Swedish boys learning English from World of Warcraft

On Slate.com I read about a recent study by Swedish academics that has shown Swedish boys aged 10 – 11 may be learning more English by playing World of Warcraft than by doing their homework.

The reason for this is that the default language for multiplayer games is English, so while they’re playing the game and interacting and collaborating with other players they’re also learning English.

It is common among the boys to play multiplayer action games such as Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, and Age of Empires Online. Also the MMORPG World of Warcraft is played by some of the boys in our study, despite their low age. A very popular game among the boys is Minecraft,a sandbox construction game that offers both singleplayer and multiplayer modes, and they also play sports games, such as FIFA and NHL.

In one questionnaire item, the informants were asked to rate the extent to which they agreed with the statement ‘‘English is interesting’’. Agreement is viewed as an indicator of motivation to learn English (cf. Guilloteaux & Dornyei, 2008; Sundqvist, 2009). The results revealed that all (100%) of the learners in the frequent gamers group either ‘agreed’ or ‘agreed strongly’.

The researchers also quote other research into online games indicating that they have can have a very positive effect on learning.

The key to the results shown in this study is that the children are learning new English vocabulary in what for them is a highly engaging and memorable context.

You can read the full paper here.


Get fluent by thinking in pictures

This article on the Wall Street Journal is by Gabriel Wyner, author of Fluent Forever: How To Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It.

As an opera singer he needed to learn several languages fast, but couldn’t afford expensive language programmes.

And so he developed his own method for learning and remembering the languages he needed based on making the most of the amazing capacity of our visual memory by creating strong and meaningful visual associations with various language elements.

For example, we might learn the word ‘cat’ by looking at a picture of a cat – this creates an association, but a weak one.

We could create a much stronger association by tying the word to a visual memory of a childhood pet cat and all the associated memories we have of that cat and that time.


Hacking language learning

Polyglot Benny Lewis, owner of the hugely popular website Fluent in 3 months talks about why the five main reasons people think they’re not able to learn a new language are false.



What are your thoughts about either of this week’s articles and the video?

Do you find computer games useful for learning English (or another language)?


If you’ve read any great language or learning-related articles recently, please share them here 🙂



  1. Hi Angela,

    Interesting thoughts around computer games and learning English, makes sense really. We often learn the most from the things we are involved in don’t we?
    Anita recently posted..Are you content with who you are?My Profile

    • Yes, that’s it exactly, Anita – it’s much easier to learn when we’re having fun and are absorbed in something. And I’m sure that for many children a computer game is much more appealing than a text book!

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