Totem's Top 10 Serious games for learning languages! 

Language Learning Apps

Just a few weeks till the summer holiday season! Where is everyone jetting off to? 
Wherever you plan to holiday this year be sure to grab some local phrases before you go! Ordering your dinner or even just drinks is a respectful, confidence-building experience. We’ve pulled together the best games out there to help you learn with ease. 

Learning through game play has been proven to engage players, enhancing their learning. There are many reports that focus on this aspect of Serious Games, including a report on 'Measuring the effects of Serious Games' written by our very own Helen Routledge. The Wall Street Journal has even written an article on the positive effects of gaming. So what are you waiting for? We’ve got our Top Ten ready to go. You have no excuse to not learn that lingo!

Rosetta Stone Arcade Academy This is one for everyone jetting off to Spain for some sun this summer. This game features 12 mini games – you can float through space or soar through the night sky, practicing your Spanish as you play. Players are rewarded with 5 free credits and more can be purchased through the game. Unfortunately, it is only available on the  App Store.

Rosetta Stone Arcade Academy


Mindsnacks - My personal favourite! The interface was easy to use with excellent graphics. Learning in small segments, building up vocabulary, consolidating terms into memory through gameplay. This really helped me to grasp the language. I used this app alongside a phrasebook, teaching myself basic Italian for the month leading up to my trip. I won’t say I was fluent or could even hold a conversation but I could understand people! Which was endlessly useful!



Duolingo - The promise of free content forever is a definite hook! Lots of languages are catered for on Duolingo. Whether you’re off on your holidays to Italy or planning an intergalactic trip for some conversational Klingon – Duolingo has you covered!


While this program is really useful for learning a new language, it needs to be noted that this is not an example of a Serious Game. This is instead an example of Gamification. There are some important differences between Serious Games and Gamification. For more information keep a look out for Helen Routledge’s book ‘Why Serious Games are Good for Business’ .

Memrise - Again, this isn’t a serious game. Memrise teaches through repetition. It ‘plants’ the vocabulary into your memory, using visual cues, even adapting to how you learn. There are a range of courses available and they don’t just teach languages. There’s even Art, Maths, History, Geography and tonnes more courses available to choose from. But be warned these courses are largely created by users, so expect the occasional mention of a new release, book or program.  


Busuu - Gamification, I see a common theme occurring! There are big limitations on this if you don’t pay to be a premium member. Online you can work on your Spanish but any other courses will require paying a fee. Busuu is really popular for people learning a new language, their website boasts 50 million users worldwide. It teaches through repetition and quizzing you on what you have just learnt. It tests your pronunciation and listening skills so make sure you are in a quiet place and the microphone on your computer or phone is working.


Bubble Bath – There are a lot of languages available with this game, a lot of languages many others don’t offer, such as: Hindi, Russian, Swahili, Vietnamese and more. I downloaded the Swahili Bubble Bath game, I’m off to climb Kilimanjaro in September and I would like to be able to at least say thank you to the guides. It is a really simple game – bubbles rise, there’s an option on each side of the screen, select the bubble and then the corresponding option. Selecting a bubble prompts the word to play – helping with listening and speaking skills. I like this game because you can just pick it up, spend five minutes and set it down again. It doesn’t matter where you are, you will be able to practice without having to set aside any specific time.  

Bubble Bath Game

Free Rice – Learn a language while donating rice to those in need! This is a brilliant serious game we have mentioned previously and was featured on our Top Ten Serious Games for Learning blog. It is really simple. A word is shown and you click the correct definition from the options. There are a few different languages to play with and there are a lot of other subjects to choose from if you need a change of pace.

Free Rice

On a similar note, Studycat have developed a game for the younger generation. Teachers and parents alike have given this game some great reviews. Two lessons and twelve games are included in the game with more unlocked after paying a fee. Fun English Learning Games  could make a great educational entertainer for your child while on those longer car journeys or bus trips.

English Learning Game

Code Combat – Short entertaining lessons teaching people of all ages how to code.  This game is great. There is even the option to choose from a growing list of code languages, all wrapped up in some neat, engaging graphics. is also a great side to use if you’re considering learning some code -and you thought this was all about languages!

Code Combat

This list isn’t just all about your holidays! If you read last weeks blog post you will know that learning a second language has a lot of health benefits. It has been proven to help with ‘mental wellness’, improves memory, communication skills, even builds self-esteem. The benefits are never ending! What are you waiting for?

If you found this list helpful or want to make suggestions for future lists, get in touch! Send us a tweet with #TL10, we’ll be only be too happy to take on suggestions. Same to developers; have you got a great game due to be released? Get in touch and let us know!