Growing up, I always wanted to learn another language. But coming from a low-income family in the UK, it was not an easy task.
Neither of my parents graduated from high school, much less went to college, and speaking other languages was on their to-do list.
We didn’t have the money for extravagant holidays abroad, and there wasn’t enough to invest in language lessons.
Before there were free apps like Duolingo and Memrise, and the internet barely became popular, there wasn’t much in the way of self-study.
Today, I speak four languages fluently. In addition to my native English, I can speak and read German, Japanese and French.
One of the key factors in my success with languages has been video games. That’s how they can help you too.
There is a myth that learning languages at a young age is the only way forward, or that some people are naturally gifted.
I started learning my first foreign language, German, in high school, like most British children, and I found it extremely difficult.
The words just didn’t fit, and the grammar was definitely beyond me.
My grades in school weren’t impressive and German was usually my lowest grade.
However, I loved video games from an early age and always tried to play as much as possible whenever possible.
Germany was and still is a gaming hotspot, with thousands of people investing heavily in gaming.
On school trips, I bought games and, even if they were in German, I did my best to play them.
Many online tutorials for games were written by avid German gamers, and I found it difficult to get through them, fueled by my desire to play.
The turning point for German came when I met a German who was playing online and who would later become my boyfriend.
The relationship didn’t last, but the six months of daily practice talking to him, reading, writing in German was definitely a boost to my skills.
I studied German at university, so I decided to go abroad to learn another language.
Finally, I decided to live in Japan. I had never traveled to Asia before, and Japan is the biggest producer of video games in the world.
Nintendo and Sony come from Japan, and many games made there never make it to the West.
As I learned to speak Japanese daily, reading and writing literally thousands of Japanese characters, called ‘kanji’, seemed impossible.
I love Pokémon, and games for kids in Japan are written in plain Japanese with simple words and phrases.
As I learned to read Japanese, I started playing the Pokémon games I knew and loved, understanding the story mainly because I had played them so many times before.
As my confidence grew, I decided to play more difficult games and ended up signing up to take the Japanese proficiency exam.
Looking at the paper, I knew I would need a lot of work on my reading skills, and 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 notoriously difficult reading section of the exam with perfect grades.
Even in Japan I was very involved in the gaming community and I used to create translations for fans of games that were released for my friends back home.
Eventually I returned to the UK and started working on games.
My German and Japanese skills were highly valued in the industry as I could capture and translate news from these countries myself.
As few people in the UK are bilingual, I was often able to get information about games from these two popular gaming industries first.
However, there was still one language that seemed essential for anyone who wanted to know everything about the game: French.
Canada – and more specifically its French region, Quebec – is home to a number of major game developers.
Companies like Ubisoft come from here, and many of their exclusive interviews are conducted entirely in French.
Not only that, but France also 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 using quotes he had given in interviews.
Over time, I read many articles about games in the language and gradually developed my fluency in translating the information in them.
Language learning is a matter of repetition and practice.
You are much more likely to continue using a language if you use it when participating in something you enjoy. For me, it’s video games.
Whether you are a gamer, movie buff or even a celebrity fanatic, if you pursue this hobby globally, you will be immersed in other languages.
If you’ve never had success learning a language before, try researching things related to your favorite hobby.
You could be fluent before you know it.
Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GL HF.
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Source : nouvellefr.com