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How Games Are Good for Learning Chinese

CommonTown

10 July 2020

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It’s just before bedtime and you would love your son to snuggle up and read one of his Chinese books, but he finds the Chinese language so hard that he’s completely lost interest in reading. 

Or perhaps you have a daughter who has no trouble sitting down to read, but still struggles to sound out Chinese words on her own. 

You might even be a teacher whose students don’t like to read any books at all, but will happily stay glued to their Nintendo Switch for hours. 

In these challenging times, it’s not easy to take kids to the library. And as a busy parent or teacher, you may not always have the time to browse through all the titles available online. 

Even when bookshops are well stocked with Chinese books, most of the popular stories are often sold out. And when you finally find a book that actually matches a child’s reading level, you may still find that they would rather blast zombies on their phones than read a Chinese book to you out loud.

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Can Children Learn to Love Reading Chinese Books?


But is it possible for children to become so gripped by Chinese language books, that their friends or siblings start asking to read too? Or for students to enjoy reading more than one book a week, instead of struggling for weeks over a page? And could you imagine your child with his chest puffed out as he reads his first Chinese book by himself?


So why can’t children learn Chinese vocabulary as quickly as they crush candies in video games?


The truth is that children can grow to enjoy Chinese books, by playing games that help them learn to read.

Why Educational Games Help Children Learn

In a nutshell, games are fun! And as Raph Koster, game designer and author suggests: “ fun is really just another word for learning ”. And fun not only motivates children to learn but also lead to lasting memories.

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And fun not only engages children, it leads to learning. research shows a strong link between students who are engaged with their studies and better results at school. As children experience the positive feelings that come with playing games, it not only keeps them engaged during learning for longer, it also helps them focus more on the topic they are learning. The longer students spend time on a subject, the more likely they are to do well at school.

Studies show that games led to a 90% increase in retention when learning and up to a 300% increase in completed tasks . Playing games also boosts long-term retention of vocabulary, with both players and watchers of digital games outperforming readers as long as three months later in tests . In short, the longer students spend time on a subject, the more likely they are to do well at school. Eventually they discover that it is possible to have fun and learn at the same time!

Not All Games Are Created Equal

Not all games are suitable for learning. So what games can engage students, allow them to have fun and yet help improve their learning?

Games are fun when an activity is so enjoyable and motivating that the student’s attention is captured so completely that the rest of the world seems to disappear. This is a state known as “flow”.

When people are in a state of flow, they become highly focused , less aware of themselves, experience an altered sense of time and feel in complete control of their actions . This flow state then sparks feelings of fun, pleasure and enjoyment that lead to better learning and performance.
So How Does Flow Make a Game Great for Learning?

According to Psychologist Csikszentmihalyi there are several main components of flow :

  • The game or activity must have clear tasks. The person player fully understands the task they must complete.
  • Feedback must be clear, direct and immediate. It must be provided as the player makes progress, showing which actions succeed or fails.
  • It should promote focus by reducing elements that distract, so that players can fully concentrate on the task. 
  • The game must also balance challenge with player skills so that they feel the tasks are challenging yet achievable.

Games that have goals that are not challenging enough or take too long to finish, soon become boring and the player loses interest. 

On the other hand if the task is too hard, this may cause the player frustration or anxiety and they also give up. A game must find a balance between task difficulty and the player’s skill to achieve flow.

So how can you get hold of fun video games that will keep children in flow?

Well Dudu has combined state-of-the-art Support Vector Machine technology and Item Response Theory, to develop an adaptive reading platform that not only suggests suitable online books that matches a child’s reading age, but also automatically recommends fun games at the right level.


So to get instant access to our online library of over 600 beautifully illustrated interactive books, complete with great games that will keep children in the flow state, simply sign up here today.


Soon you’ll be subscribed to an adaptive reading program that will not only give your child a real sense of achievement, but will help students read more than one Chinese book a week and might even help them get better grades in school.

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