Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

War! I declare war!

on December 24, 2012

My battle with learning German took an exciting new turn this month when I learned how to declare war on someone. I love playing Civilization IV, and recently I discovered that I could install it on my computer in German.

This is really bad. And so very good.

If you haven’t played Civ 4 before, it’s complex. You have to move from the stone age through to the space age by developing new technologies, and each one comes with a famous quote. There are military units from different historical eras, some of which are specific to the particular countries. And there are a lot of countries, with different rulers. Those rulers like to make jokes, and sometimes they are quite rude and offensive with people they don’t like. To keep those other countries in line, I have to form trade agreements, build things to improve my cities, manage my finances and resources, manipulate governmental policies, and make sure I spread the best religion (that would be mine, in case you were wondering).

The game is hard enough in English. Installing it in German nearly melted my brain the first time I played it.

My German skills have definitely improved with this game. I don’t like losing cities, so I have to pay attention to what is going on. Fortunately everything is text and turn based, so I have plenty of time to consult a dictionary before I act. It exposes me to words that are used in conversation, but not used in language courses. There are complex sentence structures, so working through each statement is a fantastic grammar lesson.

Best of all? I can spend hours playing the game, and I don’t feel overwhelmed by the enormity of learning a new language. Each time I play it gets easier, and after a few days I have large parts of the game where I don’t even notice I’m thinking it through in German. Immersion has never worked for me before, but finally I’m getting somewhere with it.

I’m planning to go through my library and find a few more games that I can install in German. Until then, I’m content to wipe the Greeks from the face of the planet continue studying with Civ 4.

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