Do you remember holding your first Game Boy? Do you remember the “Golden Age” of Japanese video games? I bet it was the reason to start learning Japanese in the first place for some of us. And you are here reading this article, so you probably have a keen interest in video games!
If you are learning Japanese and you do like video games, this is perfect. By knowing how to read Hiragana and Katakana, and with a bit of foundation in Japanese grammar, I have the pleasure to announce that you unlocked a new achievement: Playing video games to practice Japanese!
After a long day of work or school, sitting down at your desk with an other textbook might be the last thing you want to do. It is a way more fun to use our entertaining audio and video podcasts related to everyday life topics, but video games could supplement your studying. It would be misleading to say any video game can teach you Japanese, but as a supplement of JapanesePod101.com, it appears to be a legitimate and fun tool to study.
Nowadays, more and more games offer you the opportunity to change the language settings to be in Japanese, they are not region locked or requiring to buy a Japanese system anymore. From Animal Crossing to Final Fantasy, choose a game, and check those tips for studying by playing!
1. Choose a genuinely fun game. It’s your chance to have a good time while learning. It shouldn’t be a chore! Take your time and go easy, you don’t want to get bored quickly or to suffocate because learning too much at once. You don’t need to stop and look up for every single word or kanji you don’t know. If you can understand the meaning of the sentence through the context, you can go on, otherwise you will get bored really quickly.
2. Start with a game you are familiar with. It will make it easier to know the framework of the story and understand the context. Try to avoid horror games, you could assimilate negative emotion from the game to studying. It would be difficult to learn Japanese while associating it to the sensation of fear!
3. Take notes while playing game. When you face unknown expressions, just pause the game, and write it down on your notebook. Once you are done playing, use a dictionary and look up each of the words. Learn those new words among other things you are already studying. As the same vocabulary words are often used over and over again, your list might get shorter and shorter.
4. Enable Japanese subtitles. It will help you to identify unknown words and kanji. It will be useful as far as you’re using a dictionary while you play. If you prefer to play with English subtitles make sure you are not only focused on subtitles but also on the Japanese voices. If you realize you are only reading English, better switch everything to Japanese or it won’t be of any help.
5. Make real-world friends. A lot of games offer you the opportunity to connect with people online while playing online. Depending on the game, it could be “learn or die”, you won’t be able to go further if you are not able to communicate with other players. You will meet people sharing the same interest. Just plug in your headset and enjoy conversing with native speakers, which will improve your speaking and listening skills. While playing online and through forums and gaming community, you can get the benefit of immersion.
If you don’t have the resources required to play but you really want to learn Japanese with video games, there is a solution for you: YouTube. Today is the golden age of “Let’s Play” videos on the platform, video showing game walkthroughs. Those video offer you some gameplay clips with audio commentaries by the gamer explaining every step. It can a great listening practice, a native speaker addressing to the viewers in an everyday life Japanese, sometimes using some slang you won’t find in any textbooks! Risa’s adventure videos can also be an alternative full of cuteness and a good material to improve your level! Here is the reason why you should learn slang if you want to become fluent!