Tag Archive: games


I came across this book entitled Effective electronic gaming in education by Richard E. Ferdig.

I have not had the chance to read it yet, I hope to do so when the time is right.

Why is this book of interest to me?

Firstly I love culture and I like teaching which to me means sharing knowledge. Sharing culture can only be done through language and I feel that that is the main reason why I love languages. Through hard work, language gives me the possibility of accessing another world and being a part of it. Secondly I like this book so far (I have read the introduction only) because it is centred around gaming. I love games, I was such a loyal gamer that I played World of Warcraft regularly, had a human mage, elf rogue, and dwarf hunter all to level 60 as well as other characters. I had serious objectives that I needed to attain and alternated between French and British realms. I learned to play WoW and picked up the vocabulary surrounding the MMORPG in French and English. I am fluent in WoW. I also managed to pick up a rare purple sabertooth mount after lots of work and no help from bots. These feats may not seem like much but I played WoW the day it came out in France and a year later I had several level 60s and then I stopped. This experience revealed quite a few things I did not know about myself:

  1. I don’t lack dedication but sometimes I cross over to the other side and become a techno hermit. I have learnt to manage this particular behaviour. My biggest accomplishment was stopping my addiction in 2005 and replacing game work with home work.
  2. When immersed in something I love, I learn everything about the immediate environment. I was a regular on WoW fora looking for tips on how to %*$ and carried out extensive research on the professions to choose and the skills sets I needed to nurture. For example, elves by nature can become invisible, it seemed logical at times to train as a rogue, stealth being an asset and then pick up leather working or poison-making as a profession. Leather working because rogues could only wear leather and anyway rogues are fast killers and so on.

So imagine if I had played a game like WoW that was just as fun and picked up a language that was useful in the real world, sky’s the limit. I must say that in WoW you do manage money, work in teams, sometimes you become Guild leaders and sometimes you become the fairy Godmother, I was more the latter than the former. I used to hang around low level instances (level 10 to 20) as a level 40 mage helping friends and strangers complete their quests which is what I loved doing the most. So one could say I am a not-for-profit oriented mage. Therefore, there is no shortage of real world skills within the world of WoW and leadership is an important part of WoW when going through instances and killing your xxxx millioneth Orc.

All this to say that true MMORPG style games as a language learning tool would be a Godsend to visual learners and language aficionados.

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Although I finished lessons one to 25, I felt I had breezed through them too quickly. I did not want a repeat of my last learning experience, which was a failure, so I started learning Survival phrases from Chineseclass101 series. These are bite sized lessons. They are much shorter than the usual sentences 15 to 30 seconds, and they introduce a lot of useful vocabulary such as calling a waiter in a restaurant, asking if the bus goes to Beijing and asking your table neighbour to pass you the chopsticks. I realise that this level should be my foundation. There are 60 lessons in this series and I am comfortable with the first 23. This took me two days of listening as well as getting on with my life.

First part: Just listening and trying to visualise scenarios. Second part: Listening and repeating. Third part: visualising a concrete scenario and making it stick.

The vocabulary is more than ok, this level is just building short sentences and concentrating on the polite form. I think it is important to find lessons that are not too advanced. I sometimes feel that Chinese learning books such as Assimil are too advanced. They start too hard and may just discourage you. It is important to listen a lot but also to have access to different voices, accents in Chinese and so on. (I am still searching for a great drama to watch that I will be able to understand). Writing characters is not an issue yet, I will do so soon. Right now I am ok with recognition. However, I plan on using the mmenotic technique to learn certain characters as this method works for me WHEN I am in the mood.

Don’t force yourself 🙂

Also I have come to understand that I can get easily distracted. In my case I have to have one to three providers of Chinese lessons (max) and just stick to them. I also need to listen to one or two different Chinese shows regularly or I will get side tracked. Chineseclass101 is ok right now. All the other resources are too advanced for now. Zhongwenred.com is great but I caught myself rote learning. So I stopped. I will find other resources that are free (I promise!)

In the meantime,  I found this show for kids and families on yukou.com called 家有儿女 worth watching if you have kids or have good basic Chinese. Again, my Chinese is not enough to understand this but it is enough to read the majority of the subtitles BUT my emphasis is on understanding(social)  and not reading ( anti-social). Another thing is the sound quality on some vids is not great. As a learner this is a slight obstacle.

I am going to dedicate one more week to this level and see how far I get. By far I mean how comfortable I remain. Hopefully I’ll finish all 60 lessons by …. There is no deadline!

Q. What resources are you sticking to for your language learning? 

Chinese learning diary. Next post: Third week of Zhongwen .  Previous post: Second week of zhongwen

On Saturday and Sunday I will concentrate on my weaknesses and again listen to the Chinese dialogues. I do not believe in learning lists of vocabulary anymore and I do not believe in learning too many characters in one sitting. I do believe in learning this stuff ONCE and keeping it for life.

I will make an effort to familiarise myself with at most 50 characters. I have already been doing so during the week. With ANKI the questions are in English, the answers are in Chinese characters followed by the audio in Chinese. I listen to it once, then listen to the audio a second time while reading the Chinese. I also highlight new words in both the English and Chinese as a way of reminding myself that I will have to dig a bit further to find the answer. This can take a while, so if you decide to do so too then I suggest you do it this way:

  • Listen to your lessons and familiarise yourself with the dialogue, learn the lesson
  • Take a break, and then revise by putting the dialogues you need in Anki.
  • You don’t always need to copy the whole Chinese dialogue. Sometimes, I put in key words in hanzi as prompts, to me, the most important part of Anki is the audio. So use Anki regularly, and when you find the lesson too easy, then you can switch to working on your writing. Listen to audio then, write it and check your errors.

As for pinyin, I don’t know how to spell correctly in pinyin and I am learning the Chinese tones by ear only. I don’t know if people are taught this way but so far it is working for me and the sounds don’t seem that difficult.

Actually that’s not always the case.

I had some difficulty with 直,然後轉。Go straight, then turn left.

Zhí zǒu, ránhòu zuǒzhuǎn

I figured out that sometimes it is important that I learn what certain words meant as well as the pronunciation. I got quite confused, I had to take it, one word at a time. listen, repeat, say it in English,  listen, repeat, say it in English then visualise.

I hope this helped.

Week 1 task accomplished: Abs beginners lessons one to 25. 

Week 2 task: Review lessons one to 25 dialogues,learn vocab, learn to write dialogues.

Chinese learning diary. Next post: Second week of zhongwen.  Previous post: Fourth week of zhongwen