Eureka Languages is a game to test your understanding of foreign languages, including those you have never ever studied or have even been exposed to. A lot of communication goes beyond words: The tone of the voice, the context, the subtle nuances in the way certain words are pronounced within a sentence, an upward inflection on a certain syllable, a slight change in rhythm expressing the mood of the speaker - these all go a long way to convey a message that goes beyond the actual vocabulary.
This game is primarily aimed that those who speak English as a first language and think that they are just no good with foreign languages. Many British people simply "switch off" and stop listening when they encounter a person who is speaking a language other than English. Now I may be rather good at languages (I am fluent in five and get by in about twenty), but given that there are about 6900 languages in the world, I am barely scratching the surface with the very tip of my fingernails.
I would like to show people that they can understand so much more than they think by simply listening.
That's right. Not just hearing, but listening.
There will be something that will guide you to the right answer. You just have to listen out for it and when it hits you, simply follow your gut instinct and click on the right answer. Don't over analyze it. Of course it will not work all the time (or else we'll all be fluent in hundreds of languages), but most of you will surprise yourself just how much you actually can understand in languages as diverse as Welsh to Mandarin to Afrikaans once you start actually listening.
Think about your experience when you are watching a foreign film with subtitles in English – are you merely reading the subtitles and not listening at all? Or are you actually following the dialogue as well because so much of communication is non-verbal?
Whilst we do not aim to teach you any new words in this game, we want to give you an idea of where your strength lies - hopefully, this will inspire you to follow through and think about learning a foreign language that you have an affinity for. Most of all, this game is meant to be fun - too many people associate learning foreign languages with school and homework and frustration, well, we hope that this is going to make you see learning foreign languages in a whole new light.
I spent the first 18 years of my life believing that I was hopeless with languages. I was bludgeoned through years of Chinese classes at school, hating every moment of it. Chinese was very badly taught in Singaporean schools with so much emphasis on rote learning. My parents believed that I simply had simply no aptitude for foreign languages and accepted that I would just get by with English alone. They were very skeptical when I started learning French at the age of 18 and within three years, my French became a lot better than my Chinese much to my surprise. I then tried learning Spanish and Welsh found both languages much easier than Chinese as well.
So despite being ethnically Chinese (well I'm mixed, but mostly Chinese) and raised in Singapore (where Mandarin is spoken by the majority of the population), I had a far greater aptitude for French, Spanish and Welsh than Mandarin despite the fact that virtually no one speaks French, Spanish or Welsh in Singapore! My bad experience with Mandarin had put me off learning foreign languages for many years and I was lucky to have discovered my latent ability later in my life. Let’s shatter your assumptions or preconceived notions about your language skills.
Many people have had a similar experience - they suffered at the hands of a bad language teacher and walked away discouraged from that experience, believing that they are simply bad at languages. Let’s undo that damage.
There are so many languages in the world and each language presents a unique set of challenges. It is like sports: you may be a great tennis player but a weak swimmer. You may be a boxing heavyweight champion but can barely balance on a pair of ice skates - why? Each sport requires a different set of skills: a strong rugby player will come across as very clumsy when you try to make him do gymnastics; a flexible gymnast will simply be crushed on the rugby field. We can't be good at everything - we simply have to find a right match for our natural talents.
By the same token, you may have a natural affinity to one set of languages but not others. Your brain may just somehow click with Celtic languages whilst having absolutely no affinity with Slavic or Romance languages. Interestingly enough, my wonderful Afrikaans voice-over artist Simon from South Africa scored 80+% on the Welsh section of this challenge despite never having set foot in Wales before. It was not like Simon had some super talent with languages - his scores for French, Spanish and Mandarin were pretty dismal but somehow, he just understood the Welsh. This is the kind of natural affinity that we are trying to identify in this process: think of it as an open day at the sports centre where you get to try out a whole different range of sports and find out which one you have a natural talent for.
I am sure many of you would have have this experience before - you're in a foreign country, struggling to communicate with a local who does not speak English. Nervously, you listen to the local and then you realize to your delight, I actually stood what he said. Wow. It is that Eureka moment. That sense of joy and satisfaction at that moment which we are aiming to capture over and over again throughout the course of a game. Hopefully you will have several Eureka moments as you enjoy this game and feel a lot more confident about foreign languages after playing this game.