Language learning is hard. To learn Chinese is hard. Learning a new language requires motivation, repetition, and memorization to be successful. Today’s language learning apps are often dry and boring. Chances are you’ve tried one and lost interest.
Odeum has created an immersive approach to learn Chinese that combines video games with language learning. But not the “Chocolate covered Broccoli” type games where you are rewarded with gameplay that is not related to language learning. But gameplay that immerses you into a role-playing story where you must use and practice language naturally to be successful.
Language Learning games built with Odeum provide the motivation, in-game assistance for memorization, and rich stories that provide the purpose for repetition.
“You are a recruit for the Clockwork Time Authority and must travel back in time to help Hua Mulan from the evil Shadows of the Past.” This is how Odeum’s Hua Mulan: A Chinese Learning Adventure starts. The story gives the motivation for learning Chinese.
Without motivation or a purpose, you are learning from a language app without context. As babies, we learned our first language because we had to communicate with our care givers. A game with a rich story gives the context and motivation for learning.
With Odeum, you are immersed into the world of Hua Mulan. The gameplay and story keep you motivated. You will see similarities in gameplay to other AAA games such as Assassin’s Creed or The Witcher. Role-playing mechanics such as quests, interactions, and open worlds keep learners engaged. Learners feel more like they’re playing an RPG such as World of Warcraft instead of practicing Chinese.
Repetition might sound almost painful. Practicing the same phrase repeatedly until you lock it into memory. This traditional method is key to almost any language program. But that doesn’t mean we have to go about it in the same way.
Odeum’s approach to repetition is to integrate the “Why” of needing to practice with the story and gameplay. In this way, you don’t even realize you’re practicing Chinese. Instead, you are having natural conversation with characters in the game to achieve some goal.
For example, in one quest for Hua Mulan: A Chinese Learning Adventure, you have a suspicion the village teacher is working for the Shadow’s of the Past. You must find this teacher by asking each villager “Are you a teacher?”. This gives the motivation for why you must repeat the sentence pattern. But, because you are playing a game, you don’t even realize it.
To learn Chinese (or any language) requires memorization in both vocabulary words and grammar patterns. Building up a vocabulary is essential. Practicing grammar patterns locks into memory the natural familiarity of the language.
Odeum uses numerous mechanics to help with memorization. New vocabulary and grammar patterns are initially taught with traditional flashcards as part of your mission briefing. You then practice these vocabulary words and grammar patterns throughout your missions/quests as you interact with other characters. If you struggle with parts of the language, then the story will adapt and give you additional quests to give you more practice.
Since the action you are taking in the game, such as buying food from a shop, aligns with the context of the story, your brain can make deeper connections. You’re not just repeating a word, you’re using it in the correct context. This is true language immersion.
Motivation, repetition, and memorization are keys to language learning and Odeum uses them together to create a powerful immersive learning tool that is sure to help you meet your learning goals. You can see how motivation feeds into the why of repetition and this leads to memorization. In the example above, your goal is to find the teacher in the village. This is your motivation. You must ask each villager. This is your repetition. And finally, because you’ve been repeating the sentence pattern in the correct context, you are locking it into memory.
What strategies worked for you in staying motivated to learn a language? Leave a comment below.