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Language Immersion with Skyrim!

Ok, so if you're a person like me who is introverted by nature, as well as a little timid, then the old crank-and-hollar immersion style of testing out your current language skills on actual humans might be a bit scary. What to do, what to do...

And then—boom—Skyrim occurred to me. An open-world game where you can explore at your leisure and encounter things from the most mundane (e.g. a broom) to the most out of this world magic madness (Daedric Bow of Burning!!!). What if I changed the language pack for the whole game to the language I am currently learning? What would happen? Pure awesomeness, that's what would happen, my lovelies!!!

I changed my language pack to German, and so Skyrim becomes "Himmelsrand," and other awesomeness ensues. Seriously, think about it. You get to listen to the vocal inflection of townsfolk in order to deduce what they're saying, you can pause the game to read the subtitles if you are having trouble. You can examine just about any kind of item in the game and identify the German word for it. Also, while the open-world environment is plentifully big enough to immerse yourself in the language, it is still small enough that you will hear much of the same things being said by multiple characters, which is great for rehearsing all that necessary vocab. And if you don't quite understand what a character is saying, chances are you can get them to repeat the exact same thing just by asking them the same questions. It's the bees knees, I tell ya!

So far it's been a great help to me. One of the greatest immersion tools I've used. I've basically played Skyrim into the ground though, so I can't wait to try this with Fallout 4.

Coolest thing I learned to say in German:

"Früher war ich auch ein Abenteurer. Und dann habe ich einen Pfeil ins Knie bekommen."

"I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow in the knee."

Toodles, y'all!

July 9, 2015



I did it for English, it boosted my level so much and it was a lot of fun. Hard in the beginning but then it was useful and I could understand everything. An other thing I liked to do was reading the books in Skyrim (3/4 pages) and at loud.


This is a brilliant idea.

It also gives me an excuse to play Skyrim again :)

I might do this for Pokemon as well


The best game I've come across where you can do this is The Witcher 3. It's very new, so it won't work on every PC. But if you have the chance to get it, you should. It' unbelievable as a game itself and for language learning. The developers (from Poland) made a commitment to make it accessible in as many languages as possible. The sound is available in English, German, French, Japanese, Russian, Portuguese and Polish. The text is also available in Arabic (!), Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Korean, Hungarian and Czech. And the game is huge (bigger than Skyrim), there is lots and lots of dialogue, and you change the story depending on your choices in the dialogue. So you can play it at least twice and experience different outcomes. I loved Skyrim but in terms of language learning through gaming Witcher 3 is on a whole other level.


Thanks! Heard about the PC issues. I'll probably be able to play it next year (when I get a new PC) in French with Spanish subtitles, that's definitely going to be a rompecabeza.


This was the first thing I did when I decided I wanted to do Spanish last year. Fun times. And don't forget foreign-language Let's Plays.

Small warning: due to the structure of mods for Bethesda games (Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind, recent Fallout games), English-language mods for even the most innocent things will translate small parts of your game back into English. For instance, if a mod changes the weight of a potion or the effects of a disease, that potion or disease will probably display in English, unless you find a translated version of the mod. There is no way for modders to avoid this. Large quest/companion mods often will not work in the wrong language, but small mods will work usually work fine with your non-English game aside from renaming modded items back into English. So you may want to start a new character with a minimal mod list at the same time as you change your language.


Sims games work well too. You learn a bunch of "everyday" words.


Genius! I think you can also change the language on minecraft as well!


I have also changed the languages of some of my steam games to spanish. Currently i am winning the civil war in spanish.


Love the Idea! I'll see if I can do it with my games, next play-through.


¡Buen idea! ¡Gracias!


Soo freaking true! My computer cannot handle Skyrim, but I've had loads of fun watching it being played on YouTube. I was surprised by how much dialogue was in the game. This particular YouTuber by the name of EinQuantumPro has a very dry and witty sense of humor, ganz geil! :)



I didn't know you could change the language to German. Maybe I should use this as an excuse to finally play Skyrim!

Speaking of games, in the new Pokemon games you can change the language as well. I've been thinking about restarting one of my games and play it in German, but I haven't tried it yet.


Cool choice for learning the language! I'll recommend you some good German rpg's you can play in order to practise the language: Gothic 1-3 and Risen 1-3, specially the first two Gothics and the first Risen. All of them are better than Skyrim in my opinion.

Zum Beispiel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEU-RE8isaM


I wanted to say thank you for the idea! I did the same now in French, it's great! =) https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9589515


Very good idea! Skyrim is by far my favorite game, though I have not played in a few years now. Perhaps I will have to try this method once the latest game in the Elder Scrolls series is released.


Can you do this for ESO (Elder Scrolls Online) too? (:


According to its Steam store page, ESO is available in English, French, and German (all with full audio and subs). Most games you own, you can probably do this with, as long as you want to study a major language. With smaller languages like, oh idk, Dutch, setting a game to that usually just gives you the English game with Dutch menus and no subtitles.


I've been doing this on FIFA and Assassins Creed II (The one in Italy) in Italian. Helps a fair bit. May try to see if I can do it in Elder Scrolls online.


One of the best parts of immersion this way is that sometimes the translations are hilarious. For example, my landship turns into a carro de combate, or combat car. Fortunately, most translations are accurate enough that it doesn't get annoying.


I became addicted to Skyrim some years ago and my English improved dramatically, now I'm playing it again, but now in French


It's a great idea. I'm trying it myself but the amount of disappointment seems too much to me . I'd like to know how you'd handle this much of unknown words and still play the game, enjoy it while relaxed amd learn the language?


This is a great idea, you can get immersed in the world of Skyrim and the language you are learning at the same time.


great idea!!! but side thought we should really get dovahzul (the dragon language in skyrim) in the incubator :)


Dovahzul is not really a proper language because it is just English words "translated" over to something else, so the grammar is exactly the same.


Memrise has several dovahzul courses if you are interested, but I doubt that it will come to duolingo.


Fantastic idea!! I love the game but I have not played in a long time. I am going to give this a shot


I've never played a computer game, but the post and the comments intrigued me enough to check out Skyrim. Uh, total newbie. And kinda old too (over 40)

I'm on a PC (windows 7), and it seems that there is a version (can buy CDs) that works with win7 etc. I'm in the US, btw. Another version is some kind of download. Is it possible to "change language packs" if one buys the CD version?

I'm learning French.

Any and all help much appreciated.


I did it with Risen 2: Dark Waters some time ago, but it was before I started learning at duolingo, and my german was less than basic. I played for 2 days and got discouraged by how much time I need to sit with a dictionary, but the worst were the dialogues, which couldn't be reversed nor stopped (if I remember well). After 200 days of learning german I'll try Skyrim or Witcher 3 then ;)


It is in general a very good idea to play games in other languages. And I have learned a lot from Skyrim since it has so much dialogue.

I have also played a lot of Hearthstone in several languages. If you know the game mechanics and cards you can even change it into languages that you know very little of.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.