40 Exciting Language Learning Video Games to Learn While Having Fun
No matter what the media might tell you, video games can be well worth your time.
You can even learn a language with video games!
It’s true that games are fun, but this doesn’t mean they’re not also effective for language learning. Research suggests that games can enhance motivation, engagement and overall skills development.
Read on to learn about 40 super fun and effective games to play to amp up your language learning through the power of games. We also include YouTube channels where you can watch others play games and more.
- Language Learning Games for Children
- Language Learning Games for Adults
- Language Learning Apps
- Video Games for Natives
- YouTube and Other Video Language Learning Resources
- Why Learning by Playing Is Super Effective
Language Learning Games for Children
If you’re skeptical about playing children’s games, know that you’re in good company.
But keep in mind, you’re bound to learn something from these options because games for early childhood education, and even a bit beyond, are always designed to teach language fundamentals on some level.
They don’t have to be targeting vocabulary and grammar specifically—given the age group they’re appealing to (think ages 3-10)— but all game developers will make sure the game play is friendly to young players who are still absorbing the basics of their native language.
This doesn’t mean that adults shouldn’t also play these games—especially beginners!
1. “Curious George: George’s Busy Day”
“Curious George: George’s Busy Day” is an interactive and delightful game that lets kids into the fun and silly world of Curious George. Through engaging activities and mini-games, children join George on his adventures, solving puzzles, exploring and learning valuable skills along the way.
2. Duolingo for Schools
Languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Turkish, Finnish and more
Duolingo’s kid-friendly version turns language learning into a game, even more than the adult version. With organized lessons covering various topics, kids can explore a range of subjects from daily routines to what they do at school. It offers numerous language choices, incorporating listening, speaking, reading and writing exercises. Remember, just because this is designed for kids doesn’t mean adults can’t use it, especially in the beginner stages of learning.
Click here to read our full review of Duolingo’s standard version.
3. Muzzy BBC
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, German, Korean
Muzzy BBC is a fantastic language program for kids, packed with animated stories and fun activities. Even little ones as young as two can join the language learning adventure. With diverse language lessons, Muzzy BBC never forgets to include a good dose of fun, with charming characters and effective activities of all different types from listening to spelling.
4. Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo Letter Sounds
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, German, Korean, Japanese
This fun game helps kids nail letter sounds and pronunciation, so they can build a super strong language foundation. With interactive activities and games, it’s a learning adventure in disguise. If you’ve got a young language learner at home, this app can really help with pronunciation. Adults can use it, too, of course, because pronunciation is one of the most difficult skills to master for beginners.
Click here to read our full review of Rosetta Stone’s standard version.
5. Little Pim Language Learning
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, German, Portuguese, Korean
Little Pim is great for kids up to six. It’s all about making languages fun, with cool animated videos that will remind you of your favorite cartoons. Plus, flashcards and interactive games make sure those languages stick. If you’ve got a little explorer at home, Little Pim can be a great adventure buddy! And, of course, if you’re an adult learner, you can use it, too. You just have to be young at heart.
Languages: Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, English
MindSnacks is a language learning treasure trove for kids. With various languages available, it’s engaging and educational at the same time. The games are challenges that teach vocabulary, sentence structure and even a bit of grammar. If you’re seeking a fun way for your child to learn, MindSnacks is a great choice. Keep in mind, nothing’s going to stop adults from using this suite of games either, especially in the beginner stages of learning a a language.
7. “Gus on the Go”
Languages: Spanish, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, Korean, Russian, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew
This game is all about teaching kids new words and phrases in different languages. They’ve jazzed it up with interactive lessons and games that make it feel like playtime. Plus, they’ve made it super intuitive, so it’s sure to keep their interest. If you’ve got a curious kiddo, this app could be a great choice. Gus really is a great character.
8. Toki Pona Game
Language: Tiki Pona (a constructed language)
I’ve found something cool for you! Ever heard of Toki Pona? It’s a constructed (made-up) language that’s all about keeping things simple and easy. In the Toki Pona game, you actually learn this entire unique language.
Puzzles and challenges make your brain buzz, like unlocking a secret code. If you’re a young (or any age, really) adventurer looking for something out-of-the-box, this game might be your key to linguistic fun. It’s great to get thinking about the structure of languages, which helps with all language learning.
9. Pili Pop
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Pili Pop is a fun collection of language games that does two things: boosts your vocab and helps you nail the correct pronunciations. It’s designed for kids 5 to 10 years old, but any beginner could benefit from them. So, if you’re a young (or young at heart) explorer that loves language learning, this could be a good choice.
Languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Italian
Lingokids is a great app offering effective and varied language lessons for kids. With interactive games, catchy songs and fun activities, learning becomes super fun. In fact, this suite of games actually trademarked the phrase “Playlearning” to describe their method.
11. Spiele Nick
Spiele Nick (Games Nick) is your German language learning buddy that makes learning fun. Whether you’re new to German or want to get better, Spiele Nick will likely put a big smile on your face, with creative games and fun characters. There are all types of games, featuring Nick’s silly stable of well known characters.
Language Learning Games for Adults
This is the next step up in terms of difficulty. We haven’t yet arrived at games for adult native speakers, but we’ve found a comfortable middle ground to get you started.
The games here can take the place of your dull study materials that are overdue for retirement.
People love to learn in fun ways. And people love to learn using technology. Those are two truths of the modern age. So, what better way to combine the two than gamifying language learning? They might be fun, but they’re made to get serious results. Here are the best of the best games for learning a language:
Languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and more
This fantasy adventure game puts your new language in context. You wander around the virtual world in a free-play mode, clicking on whatever piques your interest to learn new vocabulary words. It offers tons of interactive elements to play with, and you can challenge yourself by trying to unlock a few secret play modes.
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese
Love music videos? This site turns them into a fill-in-the-blank game. As you watch the videos, you’re challenged to fill in the missing vocabulary along the way. If you can’t come up with the word, the video pauses and waits for you to figure it out.
14. “Slime Forest Adventure RPG”
“Slime Forest Adventure RPG” is like stepping into a magical world where you’re the hero. You’ll wander through a mysterious forest, meet cute “slimes” and unveil hidden surprises along the way. Think of it as an epic adventure where you battle “slimes” and discover secrets while exploring breathtaking landscapes. This is a great one for gamers who like to embark on an adventure into a new and mystical place.
15. My Chinese Coach
Language: Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, English
This Nintendo DS game is your personal language tutor, helping you learn Chinese (and other languages) in an engaging way. With interactive lessons, games and quizzes, you’ll master vocabulary, characters and pronunciation. It’s like having a coach in your pocket, guiding you to Chinese fluency while having fun. The games employ many different learning styles, so there’s something for everyone.
Languages: Japanese, Russian, French, Spanish
LinguaLift is like having a language learning tutor right by your side. The site has creative lessons that make you feel like you’re on a journey, not just studying, so you’re more likely to stick with it. So whether you’re starting from scratch or dreaming of fluency, LinguaLift has your back with lessons that feel more more interactive than many textbook activities.
17. “Learn Japanese To Survive!”
“Learn Japanese to Survive!” is a great game that turns learning Japanese into an epic adventure. You’ll be embarking on a captivating RPG world where you’ll master hiragana, katakana and even complex kanji as you progress through the exciting, occasionally scary, story-line. Battle monsters, explore landscapes and unlock the secrets of the language while having a ton of fun.
18. “Waking Violet”
Languages: English, Spanish
“Waking Violet,” a choose-your-adventure puzzle game, sharpens your language skills as you tackle challenges along the way. This captivating mystery story provides the backbone for solving puzzles that focus on boosting vocabulary and comprehension. It’s like being immersed in problem solving and language learning at the same time.
19. “Hang on, Man!”
“Hang on, Man!” adds flair to language learning, making hangman way more fun than it’s ever been before. As you play, you’ll boost your vocabulary and language understanding with each hangman. Each correct guess is a step toward leveling up language skills. Solving words isn’t just fun—it’s your path to becoming a language master.
20. Kloo Language Games
Language: English, Spanish, French, Italian
Kloo language games are a secret weapon for language mastery and fun. The game is all about language strategy, forming sentences and challenging friends. As you play, you’ll learn words and enhance your grammar skills, all while having fun. If you’re into games that educate and entertain, Kloo could be right for you. There are many types of games here, but they’re all done very effectively, with excellent graphics and design.
21. Learn Japanese RPG: “KawaiiPixelPhrases”
Learn Japanese RPG: “KawaiiPixelPhrases” has super cute characters and boasts engaging game-play. But it’s more than a game—it’s an immersive language learning experience told through an enchanting story line. Level up your Japanese skills in a captivating RPG—a fun, educational quest. This game is perfect for the Japan-obsessed gamers.
Language: English, French, Spanish, Italian
Wordament is an effective suite of language games. The site has many types of word forming games, so no one will get bored. And it’s more than a game of course. It’s a vocabulary-enhancing, mind-sharpening language workout, a fun puzzle adventure that turns you into a language whiz. If you’re up for brain-teasing that boosts word mastery, Wordament may be the perfect match.
Language Learning Apps
The game apps we’ll discuss here are ones that native speakers of the language twiddle with on their phones instead of spending time with their loved ones, not apps designed for learners. You already know what that means: You’ll be thrown into the deep end.
App games are great because anyone with a smartphone can download them instantly. Sometimes you’ve got to pay a little, or you have to pay to unlock certain game features, but the ease of access and portability arguably make up for that.
23. Sopa de Letras: Español
A classic, granny-style alphabet soup game where you search for words. Searching in another language is great for exercising your brain’s recognition of that language. To find similar games in any language, try searching for “alphabet soup” or “word search.” Doing this quickly in Japanese immediately brings up options, like this Japanese word search app. Give it a try in whatever language you’re learning!
24. Jeu de Mots en Français
A fun French problem solving game that’s something like a crossword puzzle, all in handy app form, so you always have it with you.
25. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Languages: English, German, Hindi
Oh yeah, we all want to be millionaires. That’s why this TV franchise—and all its related games and merchandise—took over the world. Simply search for the equivalent of the show’s title in your target language or download this app in three key languages.
Quizduell is the ultimate trivia game with a competitive twist for language learning. You’ll delight in real-time battles, pitting your knowledge against opponents around the world. Imagine a language showdown that turns studying into a competitive game. Ready to test your wits and become a language champ? Quizduell is your go-to for fun and learning combined.
Language: English, Spanish, French, Italian
WordBubbles! turns vocabulary building into an adventure. In this bubble world, you have to get creative, connecting letters to make words. You’ll be forming words you didn’t even know existed in no time. Each word levels up your vocabulary in an entertaining, engaging way.
28. Word Ladder
Word Ladder is a brain-teasing language game that creatively transforms words. Change one word into another by altering a single letter at a time. It helps you boost your vocabulary and your linguistic agility as you climb the ladder of mastery.
29. Lyriko: Learn New Languages with Music
Language: English, Spanish, French
Lyriko is a melodic journey that transforms language learning into musical delight. The game focuses on song lyrics, so you can pick up new language skills while listening to music. The game also enhances reading and listening skills. With each verse, you’re not just singing, you’re harmonizing with languages.
Video Games for Natives
Do you have an Xbox, PlayStation or Wii? Any game is great in a foreign language, but they can be hard to come by. Usually, you’ll need to have bought your console and/or games in a region that speaks your target language. Most games aren’t automatically available in multiple languages.
Most games here are offered in a variety of languages, so you can download the one that you want to learn! When you choose a game, be sure to check the “Languages” section before getting too excited. Here, you’ll see if the game supports your target language as subtitles only.
Here are the games that support full audio in other languages, and a list of their supported languages.
30. “Call of Duty: Black Ops III”
Shoot. Kill. Don’t die. Curse like a rabid teenager when you do die. Accuse everyone else of hacking, modding and cheating. All the necessary ingredients for an infuriatingly fun time. This is perhaps the epitome of the addictive video game model, and one that you’ve likely played if you’re into video games at all.
Full Audio: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian
Subtitles and Interface: English, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Spanish
31. “Tricolour Lovestory”
Full Audio: Japanese, English
“Tricolour Lovestory” is the video game version of a captivating Japanese love story that lets you in on the lives of two lovelorn characters—the kinds of characters that wear their emotions on their sleeves, sometimes called “emo.” As a player, you get to make decisions that shape the story, determining where it ends up as you pick up some Japanese along the way.
32. “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain”
Full Audio: English, Japanese
Subtitles and Interface: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian
This installment of “Metal Gear Solid” allows you to play more freely than ever before. Sure, you can roam around and cross wide distances with vehicles in this game, but don’t get to thinking that you’re done sneaking around forever—you’re not! You’ll still need to get Snake safely from point A to point B without him being caught and killed.
33. “Fallout 76”
Full Audio: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish
Subtitles and Interface: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese
This radioactive, mutant-infested, post-apocalyptic wasteland needs your help. But you’ll probably be too busy customizing your characters and building your own little settlement to bother with doing good deeds. Or perhaps you’ll decide to go on an explosive rampage instead. No matter which direction you choose, do it in your target language and explore this vast world while you learn.
34. “Borderlands 3”
Full Audio: English, French, Italian, Japanese, German, Spanish
Subtitles and Interface: English, French, Italian, Japanese, German, Spanish, Korean, Chinese
Explore mystical (and valuable) alien ruins on a faraway planet in another one of those shoot-em-up adventure games, complete with quests and little side missions you can opt to complete.
35. “The Lord of the Rings Online”
Full Audio: English, French, German
Love “The Lord of the Rings”? So do I. (My chihuahua is named Frodo. True story.)
That’s why it’s so fantastic that French and German learners have the opportunity to explore the beautiful regions of Middle Earth, meeting familiar faces and strangers along the way. You’ll learn some very unique language from your adventures in this sprawling online arena, and you’ll learn how to talk about your favorite trilogy in a foreign language.
36. “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”
Full Audio: English, French, German, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian
Subtitles and Interface: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Hungarian, Korean, Chinese
This might be one of the coolest, darkest and more artfully innovative video games out there these days. Play your way through a spellbound tale of prophecies, legends, elves, dwarves and wild monsters. Your choices really matter in this world—you can’t just passively ride the rails of the predetermined storyline as you can in most other games—so you’ll need to pay close attention to the language being used so you know what to do at every new juncture.
37. “The Sims 4”
Interface: English, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Chinese
This game has no audio to speak of—the Sims themselves speak Simlish, obviously—so you’ll just want to make sure you have the interface in your target language. Then click your way around the various text options. If you’re not familiar with “The Sims,” to play you’ll need to control virtual humans and help them navigate their way through day-to-day life. Every action is performed by clicking on a text command. That means you’ll see the words for every single human activity, from mundane daily tasks to major life events and exciting escapades, in your target language.
Prepare to learn how to live life in your new foreign language.
38. “Left 4 Dead 2”
Full Audio: English, French, German, Russian, Spanish
Well, the zombies in this game speak the same language that they do in the English version—they just moan, groan, scream and splutter—but by downloading a version in your target language, you can learn while hearing the intrepid apocalypse survivors hash out their game plans and scream for help.
I haven’t listed the interface and subtitles languages, because this game is much better played with the full audio in your foreign language.
Full Audio: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
Subtitles and Interface: English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
This game has the power to capture your heart, I promise. Unless you decide to become an evil villain and inspire fear in the hearts of everyone around you. Your choices define whether your character becomes a beloved hero (a saint, really) or a vicious madman. So, pay close attention to what’s going on at every step and make your choices accordingly. Your understanding of the language will determine your virtual fate.
40. “Minecraft: Educational Edition”
Full Audio: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian
This popular video game world lets you build, experiment and go on adventures—and if you want to learn some language while playing, why not? With each block you place, you can be paving your path to understanding your target language. Because this game is so famously addictive, you’re sure to stick with it, which will likely benefit your language skills if you’re playing in another language.
YouTube and Other Video Language Learning Resources
Watching videos of people playing games, or any videos really, is closely related to playing games because it’s both fun and relaxing, which puts you in an ideal state for language learning.
Check out these options if you’re not in the mood to play, but you’re still willing to sit back and watch a video.
YouTube gaming channels
You might see the phrase “Let’s Play!” around the Net when searching for good video game videos. “Let’s Play!” videos are any YouTube videos that show video game walk-throughs. The idea is that viewers will learn how to play in general, or they will learn the specifics of advancing through levels and completing games. These videos include game-play clips, and they provide audio commentaries that explain every step.
Here are some great channels in some of the most popular languages:
- CyprienGaming — This channel belongs to one of the most famous French YouTubers, and will provide you with a weird, humorous grab-bag of gaming-related videos in French.
- CodJordan23 — Despite the username, which suggests undying devotion to COD (Call of Duty), this YouTuber is mostly into showcasing NBA games.
- Yankeeunit91 — This YouTuber has an infectious laugh, which ranges from belly laughing to a high-pitched cackle, so his videos are bound to make for some hilarious German lessons. Check out his coverage of “Need for Speed”, “Call of Duty” and “Grand Theft Auto V” (online and offline).
- Rocket Beans TV — You never really know what to expect on this channel, as the YouTuber in charge is into an assortment of game titles. However, his videos make for fabulously diverse German lessons because he’s constantly bringing his friends on for lengthy game-related chats.
- PietSmiet — Here you’ll find videos of “Minecraft” gameplay and highlights from some oldies-but-goodies. The “Mario Kart” videos are crazy fun, as you might expect.
- elrubiusOMG — Want to learn Castilian Spanish? This is the gaming host for you. The “Games in 1 Minute” segments are great to watch for those new to the gaming scene. You’ll also get to watch him run around trolling (frustrating and mocking) other gamers, which is always worth a laugh.
- JuegaGerman — This Mexican YouTuber loves online and flash games, “The Sims 4,” “Minecraft” and “The Walking Dead.”
- Fernanfloo — Get a taste of the distinctive Argentinian accent on this channel!
Understandably, most of our Chinese gamer friends aren’t on YouTube. There are, however, a few popular Taiwanese gamers that you can watch online.
- MrChesterccj — This one covers “Grand Theft Auto 5,” “Minecraft,” “Halo 5” and other Xbox One games. You’ll even be able to watch “Little Big Planet 3,” which is adorable, and various RPGs.
- RSPannie72127 —This YouTuber is very animated, and gives great reaction sounds that you could use in your own Chinese. She mostly does “Minecraft” and various RPGs, but she also does some fun “real life” gaming stuff, including board games.
If you’re learning Japanese, using video games (and videos about them) to learn will be a breeze. Not only do Japanese natives love games, they love sharing them and talking about them. Not to mention, Japan has tons of unique, otherwise unheard of games that only exist within the country, so you’re always in for new surprises.
- Pazudoraya — Here you’ll find features on mobile and tablet games, puzzle games and generally games you’ve never heard of. However, this guy talks a lot so his channel will give you excellent listening practice and great inspiration for future mobile app downloads.
- Tomo0723sw — Do you find loud, maniacal laughter to be contagious? Then this channel will have you in stitches! The host mostly covers mobile and app games, old “retro” games, flash games and online multiplayer modes. You’ll also get to see him play through “Alan Wake,” “Call of Duty, “Grand Theft Auto 5,” “Lego Star Wars” and Japanese games with strong elements of actual Japanese culture and society. I’d recommend you try watching videos about games like “Boku no Natsuyasumi” (My Summer Adventure), which will give you magical summer vacation nostalgia even if you didn’t grow up in Japan.
Languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Russian
With quizzes and interactive videos galore, FluentU is a great app to use for entertainment as well as language learning. It uses videos made by and for native speakers and adds interactive subtitles with a built-in multimedia dictionary. This makes this program an ideal and entertaining choice for language learners. Plus it’s super fun.
Why Learning by Playing Is Super Effective
- Positive associations. Let’s play a little word association game. When I say “language learning,” what pops into your brain? If your answer is textbooks, flashcards, vocabulary lists, quizzes, exams or all-nighters, then, for the love of God, shake things up. Video games are for you. If your study methods feel stale (or if you simply can’t motivate yourself to get started), then you need to create more positive associations with language learning in your brain.
- In-context learning. You’ll learn vocabulary and grammar while you’re embroiled in the action. You’ll be immersed in your virtual world, interacting with virtual people, traveling to virtual places and earning virtual money. Listening, reading and understanding the language of the virtual world (read: your target language, after you get around to switching your game’s language settings) will be rewarded with points, digital bucks or progress in your game’s story line. This is how immersion works when you’re studying abroad: You learn by doing, you get immediate feedback and you need to keep guessing, trying and thinking creatively if you don’t quite understand something.
- Repetition. Even in games with complex stories or ones that give you tons of freedom to choose your fate, you’ll still hear the same words over and over as you play. That’s because every game has some core themes, key characters, big events and repeated actions that will keep popping up as you go. This will help to strongly solidify a good chunk of vocabulary. The more familiar with the game you are, the more familiar you’ll become with the language used.
- You’ll never put off study time. When study time is game time, will you really dread it or procrastinate as much?
- Learn or die! If you don’t follow what’s happening, you’ll die. Plain and simple. Do you really want to lose another life?
- You can make real-world friends. Many games offer you the ability to connect with people online while you’re playing. Others will just give you a common interest to talk about with friends or Internet strangers on forums and websites.
- Games are easily accessible. Even if you don’t have an Xbox at home, many games are easily accessible through Steam and app stores.
- Let the kids have some fun! Kids adore games, obviously, so this is a great way to go if you’re raising bilingual kids or if you’re learning together with your whole family.
So, that’s it!
It sure was a long list, but the hope is that now every language learning gamer has been able to identify a video game that works in their target language.
Now’s the time to get out there, connect with fellow gamers and get into your own virtual language learning experience.
Good luck, and game on!