Level Up Your Language Skills: The 5 Best Video Games for Learning German
Want to learn German while hunting for hidden treasure?
Or while slaying zombies?
Or while winning the World Cup?
Unless you lead an extremely exciting life, that probably sounds a bit crazy.
But it’s possible—virtually, anyway.
With some fun video games and a little know-how, you can learn German while doing all of the above.
You’ll get to practice your German listening and reading skills, and with certain games, even speaking. You’ll be exploring the addictive worlds of super fun video games, maybe not even realizing that you’re leveling up your language skills at the same time.
So, are you ready to harness the power of video games to improve your German?
Why Learn German with Video Games
One of the best reasons to learn German with video games is that it’s incredibly easy to incorporate into your free time. After all, you probably already play these kinds of games quite frequently, so all you need to do now is start gaming in German.
It’s also a very accessible way to start picking up German vocabulary and common phrases. Whereas finding quality German course materials or German speaking partners can involve lots of research, playing video games in German just requires equipment most gamers, even the most casual ones, already have.
Best of all, by playing games in German, you’ll be creating positive associations with the language. You won’t view your studies as boring and tedious anymore!
There’s the threat of procrastination and you could be tempted to just play in English. And that’s why you need to stay strong! If you’re completely dedicated to your German studies, you should find it easy to overcome this temptation. Just thinking about all the advantages of playing in German should be enough for you to forget about procrastinating.
How to Learn German with Video Games
- For the beginner German learners out there, you should start off easy with games aimed at young children. These can help you build up a good bank of easy vocabulary and grammar.
- For those of you who want more of a challenge, you might want to switch the language on the game you’re currently working through. You should be able to do this by going into settings and then selecting the language options. We’ll discuss a number of games below where this is possible.
- If you want to take your gaming studies to the next level, think about getting a game that has the option of chatting to other gamers online. It’s an incredibly fun, engaging way to hone your German speaking skills with native speakers.
Games such as “Call of Duty” have this option. You’ll need to buy a headset to wear while you’re playing so you can talk to other players live. To make sure you find German-speaking players online, you should download a VPN. You can then get your location to show up as Germany or another German-speaking country, and the game will connect you to players in that country.
Of course, if you haven’t chatted a lot with native German speakers before, you’re bound to run into a lot of unfamiliar slang and chat acronyms.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for using casual, real-life German with native speakers is by seeing how it’s done through German-language media—media that’s been optimized for authentic German learning. And that’s precisely what you’ll find on FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Why not up your learning game with FluentU? You can check it out with a free trial.
The Best Video Games for Learning German
The FIFA games are extremely popular around the world; they give players the chance of taking a soccer team right to the top of the league. You’ll get to create a team out of real-life famous soccer players, and will then have to face some pretty tough opponents to make it to the top!
You don’t need to buy a special German version of this game; you can simply switch the language in the settings menu. Then, you just need to start playing! You’ll instantly start hearing a lot of sports-related phrases and vocabulary from the commentators, and will start picking up words through osmosis. When you’re creating your soccer team, you’ll also read a lot of German in the various in-game menus.
Another awesome feature for language learners is that if you find yourself having trouble following the German audio, you can always turn on the subtitles.
“Tomb Raider” Games
“Tomb Raider” is another series of games that you can quickly switch to German in the language menu.
This popular game has been going strong since it was first released in 1996, and it’s no wonder why! In this survival game you’ll be playing as Lara Croft, navigating through forgotten ruins and lost worlds to try and find various treasures. The game is best suited to players who have an intermediate level of German, as you’ll need good language skills to solve the riddles and listen to instructions that can help you work through the levels.
There are lots of checkpoints in “Tomb Raider,” which means there are plenty of chances to save your game and recap the story so far!
“Mind Your Language”
There are a few games out there that are specifically designed with language learners in mind, such as “Mind Your Language,” which you’ll find in different editions for various languages.
There are lots of mini games that’ll test your language skills, and you’ll also find helpful resources such as an in-game dictionary. There are also recordings of more than 1,000 words to help teach you pronunciation. Rewards in the game help you stay motivated while also helping you track your progress.
Be aware that the German version of the game seems to be available primarily from U.K. sellers, so shipping may be inconvenient depending on where you’re located.
“The Walking Dead”
There are lots of games that are based on popular TV shows and movies, but one of my favorites has to be the games based on “The Walking Dead.” One benefit of playing these types of games is that you’ll already know what to expect as the game narrative closely follows the plot of the TV show. So, even beginner German learners will be able to follow.
These types of games are also very interactive and heavy with dialogue, so you’ll have to stay on your toes to keep up with all the German! Games based on TV and movies are also relatively short—in fact, the “The Walking Dead” game episodes typically take around two hours. That means you can follow storylines without getting overwhelmed or lost in the German.
If you’re looking to improve your everyday German and/or your German reading comprehension, then you should think about spending some time playing “The Sims.” Even though the characters speak a fictional language called Simlish to one another, if you switch the game’s language to German you’ll find that all the text turns to German.
Beginners will find that playing “The Sims” in German is a good introduction to gaming in another language, as the game isn’t so focused on dialogue or a strict narrative. It also puts the language into contexts you’ll recognize and encounter from everyday life.
So, there you have it—gaming doesn’t have to be a waste of time! If you think carefully about your choice of game, you might find that you can actually help your German. Once you become more fluent, you’ll find that it even improves your game skills as well.
What are you waiting for? Time to switch on your console and get to work on your German.
Laura Harker is a freelance writer based in North Yorkshire, U.K.