Expat children maintain their language skills by gaming

Hear from expat parents about the positive impact of online gaming on their children's native language proficiency. When a child's circle of friends is international, and the lingua franca is English or another dominant language, the language spoken with parents may deteriorate. That's where online gaming can help.
A kid in front of a computer playing a video game online with friends and talking about a quest. Speech bubbles show icons of a map, a mountain, a dragon and a question mark.
Written by
Mikko Perälä

Children may lose their native language proficiency when living abroad

Families living abroad for an extended period often encounter a common challenge – their children's native language proficiency deteriorates and speaking the language at home with parents is just not enough to maintain a rich enough vocabulary and fluency of spoken language. Even though often the children seamlessly integrate into the surrounding society, there might be some slightly negative aspects to this otherwise positive situation. When a child's circle of friends is international, and the lingua franca is English or some other dominant language, the native language spoken with parents may take a back seat. Perhaps, according to the children, speaking their native language isn't considered cool!?

For a child who has moved abroad at a young age, there is a risk that the language is entirely forgotten, and, for example, a common language with grandparents living in homeland may no longer be found. This can cause great sorrow for grandparents and be a significant loss for the child, even if they do not fully understand its significance at that moment.

If a return to home country is on the horizon one day, a person who has grown up abroad may struggle to adjust to the society and suffer from a major cultural shock, especially if language skills and networks among local peers are limited.

Games as a tool for language maintenance

One of the most commonly known positive aspects associated with gaming is the strengthening of language skills through playing and interacting with games. And it's not a minor thing! Especially because learning a new language opens the gates to diverse personal growth and increased understanding. In the past, before Internet and online games and communities existed, language learning mainly occurred by immersing oneself in the texts and manuals of games and browsing foreign language gaming magazines. However, spoken language didn't really improve through this method.

Nowadays, online games enable the learning of spoken language almost imperceptibly. The term "unintentional learning" is often associated with learning through games. Games motivate children to acquire new skills and understand the context in which they operate, all while collaborating with other players.

Similarly, maintaining already acquired language skills happens almost unconsciously by playing Minecraft or Roblox on servers dedicated to that particular native language. However, letting one's gamer play on any servers may not be wise. In online gaming, it is generally important to know who your child is playing with, rather than what they are playing. The core of School of Gaming's activities is to provide parents and their children with a safe, harassment-free, and supportive gaming environment, where an adult game educator is always present, and every person's identity and parents are known.

Gaming friends help your child to grow roots

Through online communities, young people form friendships and build their identity just like in the physical world. Friends met online can be just as important to a child or young person as those met at school or in a live hobby. Through gaming hobbies, many establish lifelong friendships that help a child hold onto not only their language skills but also their native (youth) culture. This, more than anything, grows roots to the homeland.

If a return to the native country is planned sooner or later, networking with local children from that country, who share the same interests, is like investing in the future. And not only for language skills but specifically for easier integration and avoiding cultural shocks.

What parents are saying:

School of Gaming has many expatriate clients, and here are a couple of comments we have received as feedback:

"My daughter's Finnish language has improved tremendously in just a month! The gaming educators have been very skillful, friendly, and patient. This thing of yours really works!" (Anne-Marie, Norway)

"Our son's Finnish language has become stronger thanks to the club. I recommend it to other expatriate families too!" (Mother, USA)

School of Gaming's Principal Gamer Rexi has asked a few gamer parents to share more extensively about the impact what School of Gaming's online gaming lessons have had on their children's Finnish language skills. So, stay tuned for more on this topic in the future.

School of Gaming is the safest place for children to play online games. Our safe and secure service gives parents peace of mind and offers children super fun weekly lessons in a gaming environment they love. These lessons include opportunities to make new like-minded friends and are supervised by adult game-based learning professionals. Try out our lessons now: https://www.sog.gg/lessons

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