Language Game Based Learning Experiences

In a globalised world, learning languages is without a doubt a crucial factor to unveil new life and business opportunities. However, learning a new language is not only learning new vocabulary and grammatical rules. Sometimes it also means you'll be learning a whole new alphabet and more often than not involves dabbling with a new cultures.

Duolingo ( is a recent player in the online language learning context, basing its method on the strong gamification of repeting vocabulary exercises. Although praised by its effectiveness, one may wonder whether it also effectively communicates cultural differences...
Another example of the same repeting methodology, puzzles are also often used to help western players memorize other alphabets such as japanese kanjis.

SiLANG ( and GABALL ( are two game based language learning projects from two SEGAN partners, trying to develop games which concentrate not only on linguistic content but also on cultural aspects. Both being graphical adventure games, it seems the narrative immersion is a catalyst for learning retention.

What's your experience with using games to learn languages? Which other games would you recommend and why?
Which kind of game mechanics do you think best suit language learning?

Also, have you been involved on the development of any language learning game?
Which do you think are the main difficulties of this kind of games?

  • I use Duoling as an app on my mobile phone for improving my German and Spanish. I find it interesting as I have already been to Germany, Austria and Spain, so I do not miss the cultural aspect of the language so much. I personally like the idea of learning through a game, as I am trying to learn something new each day, and I hope that the next time I am in Germany I will be able to speak their language, not just to understand it. I like that Duolingo is testing me on vocabulary as well as on understanding the spoken language and the pronunciation, so it is much better than just using the textbook, where you never hear the language itself. The only minus is, that some of the words seem mistranslated to me, who has learned German before.

    I also used Babbel, which is in a way similar to Duolingo, but is a bit more based on the culture. It explains the expressions and in which situations they are appropriate to use better than Duolingo. You also learn through completing the dialogs, speaking and listening to the language. You find out what words to use with friends and what when you are trying to be polite, how to pronounce words correctly. It explains the grammar as well.

    I haven't been developing this kind of games myself, but I have tested some of them and I have formed my opinion on my own experience.

    I think that the main difficulties are how to motivate a learner to continuous learning the language, because once he loses the motivation, he might just quit and it is hard to get him going again. And how to award the learners achievements in learning and what is the appropriate ratio between award points gained for continuous learning and award points for correct answers. I think that Duoling has a good relation between these two, but I would really appreciate if I had an option to compensate one day without learning a week with additional learning on one of the other days.

  • As a part of a research project that aims to modelize learners in educational games we would like to invite you to participate in the following online survey:


    Please help us spread the word by sharing this survey with your contacts. Your time and assistance are much appreciated.


    Thanks in advance.

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