Children in Sweden are learning English by playing western games - most notably Blizzard's popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft. This is according to a new study (PDF) by Swedish academics Pia Sundqvist and Liss Kerstin Sylvén.
According to the research, fourth grade boys who engaged in activities outside of school that require understanding English have an easier time learning and understanding it as a second language. The boys focused on in the study spent an average of 11.5 hours a week doing things in English outside school; 3.5 hours of that time was spent playing computer games like World of Warcraft, Counter-Strike, and FIFA. Swedish girls, who spent only 0.4 hours of their 5.1 extra English hours a week playing games, learned at a slower rate.
This is mostly due to the fact that English tends to be the default language when playing a game that might possibly feature players from different countries.
Slate has more on this story here.
A good suggestion from the Slate article for American parents who may want their children to learn a language other than English: switch their language settings to something other than English...