25 January, 2007

Video games for learning

It's being discussed whether computer games are useful for teaching children things, but I think the emphasis is on the wrong type of things intended to be taught. It seems the effort is mostly focused on maths and natural sciences, which is unfortunate because learning those through games substitutes the actual understanding of the world with a collection of random facts. True, memorizing the multiplication table might be a little boring, but good old birching can heal that!

There is, I think, a very valid application of video games: learning a foreign language. And it shouldn't be some silly "help Froggy to cross the road by pressing the right letter key" -- or whatever variation of Hangman there is. No, just take an actual game that is interesting to play, the only restriction is that the game has to be of the Quest/Adventure type (Quake won't work). Just let the children play those games for as long as they want (within reasonable limits).

Something is missing, huh? Yes, one more thing: the game has to be in the language that is to be learned... And a dictionary may come in handy, too ;)

/I know this works from personal experience.
//M-m-m-m, Space Quest!

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