Immersive Language Pilot Project


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The immersive language pilot project on Second Life was initiated in 2012 and involved the use of Second Life for 3 language programmes taught at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Language and Cultures. The intend of this project is – to provide opportunities to interact naturally with native speakers, – to enhance students’ cultural awareness by exploring various sims (RL and fantasy), – to (informally) measure students oral and written input and output compared to what they get in class – to gauge their level of engagement and motivation when immersed in a 3D virtual environment. Following the success of the project, lecturers have expressed their interest in continuing the project in the second trimester of 2013 and is currently in the planning phase. This presentation is a report of findings collated in the first stage of the project: this includes students and tutors impressions on their experience throughout the trimester and recommendations for implementation of such project in a university environment.

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  • What does the next thing to being there mean for a language learner?
  • EP : Language technology SpecialistSupport 12 languages, maintain labs, search best solution for technology integration in language teachingFormer teacher of French FL and teacher trainer.Interested in developing cognitive skills in language learning through situated learning in immersive environments and Kolb’s experiential approachCyber placeboBorn in 2008, Found a home onEdunation, Informally taught French FL on SL, Developed Teacher SL training program, Developed French FL A1 to B2, Part of several educators’ CoPsBQ has been a teacher of English and Spanish as foreign languages for over fifteen years. She has taught in England, New Zealand, and Venezuela. She is currently a PhD candidate and a Spanish tutor at Victoria University of Wellington . Her research interests  include language learning strategies,  learner autonomy, ICT in foreign language learning and teaching,  ESP vocabulary pedagogy, and vocabulary testing.
  • Situated learning: Learning is situated in the activity in which it takes place. Learning is doing.Meaningful learning will only take place if it is embedded in the social and physical context within which it will be used. (Brown et al 1989) according to Oliver (2000).Knowledge is situated, being in part a product of the activity, context, and culture in which it is developed and used. [Therefore] learning methods that are embedded in authentic situations are not merely useful, they are essential. (Brown et al 1989).Situated learning occurs when students work on authentic tasks that take place in real-world setting (Winn, 1993).
  • Experiential approach: and regarding language learningViljoKohonen from immediate experience engaging the learners in the process a whole persons,by creating a portfolio, tell their personal avatar stories, machinima, storytelling, discussions and reflection.
  • Background TRIM 1No funding 3 students French 2nd year– trimester 1 2012Optional – voluntary (intrinsic motivation)Over 5 weeks, twice a week, 2 hours sessionsOral presentation in front of class 10% final markConnexion from homeNo homework just show upTwo reliable French helpers Explored Paris mainly VERY Positive feedbackLittle anxiety with either technology or language
  • Italian Themes: Shopping for food, clothes, giving opinions, directions (projetto 1)Frenc Themes:Spanish themes (Pasajes) Business, technology, ideologies, hispanic culture, not applicable to SL activities unless elaborate simulationsFrench themes Paris Cafés, Cabarets, Philosophy, Arts and Fashion, organicAuthenticcontexts : Arcachon, Venezia, Napoli, Museum Island, LEA, Solaria / MachuPichu, OperaJoven, SLVM, Costa Rica N’l Parks, InstitutoEspañol / Arcachon, MoyaIsl, Paris, UbYifu, etc..Activities and articulation: Roleplays, questions on location, interaction withobjects, treasurehunts, shows, Expert performance, modelling : Native speakers, tutor & SL coachIntegrated assessment: no italian, no Spanish, Oral assessment 20% final mark
  • Results to the survey 6 respondents out of 122 had played video games before (GTA and the Sims)None practise language onlineGetting used to the interface 1-5 (1 = very easy) 1x1, 2x2, 2x3For most, customising their avatar was difficult (x4) but 5 enjoyed customising it (identity
  • Student survey 2:Despite issues with camera controls (3) and that technology was disruptive (5) they all felt immersed exploring the environment and listening to people3 have made friends with people other than their group2 felt too distracted with the environment to focus on language and also 3 expressed the fact that sessions were too early All 6 felt it was a positive learning curve, 2 refreshing, 1 useful, 1 scary and 1 boring (multiple select possible)
  • Not feeling familiar and confident with the use of technology as a language learning tool.Feeling positive about the way how SL promotes authentic communicationHard to cope with the realism of the sims and the unrealism of the objectsNeed of vocab learning and going over topics already covered in class.
  • 3D virtual environments like SL promote spontaneous and authentic communicationBeing reluctant to try out less traditional language teaching tools.Way of promoting contextualised listening comprehension skills
  • & querobetsy@gmail.comhttp://languagepioneers.pbworks.com
  • Herrington : Whang :
  • Immersive Language Pilot Project

    1. 1. Second Life: The next best thing to being there?
    2. 2. Edith Paillat aka Cyber Placebo  Language Technology Specialist @ Victoria University  Supports teaching @ learning 12 languages  Interests: CoPs & SLA, Immersive environments and situated learning, experiential approach with technology Betsy Quero aka Inspira Alijunaiki  Teacher of English and Spanish FL over 15 years  PhD candidate and Spanish tutor @ Victoria University  Interests: learner autonomy, language learning
    3. 3.  “To provide a social and contextualised environment where learning is viewed as a social process and whereby knowledge is co-constructed”. (Wenger and Lave, 1991) and (Herrington and Oliver, 1995) Virtual Spain, getting started El Instituto Español con Wara Ysabel
    4. 4.  To bridge the gap between the theoretical learning (formal instruction of the classroom) and the real-life application of knowledge in the work environment Catedral de Guadalajara @ Opera Joven El dia de los Muertos @ SLVM
    5. 5. Combined with the Experiential approach (Kolb, 1984) where students would not only “do” and “feel” but reflect and conceptualise their experience to maximise their level of participation in consecutive sessions  Oral presentation for the French cohort 20% final mark Poems & Visual Arts on Moya Island Dancing at the Moulin Rouge
    6. 6.  Project background - trim 1 2012 - French only - 3 students  Grant for trim 2  Extended to Spanish level A2 and Italian Level A1  Funding for 5 graphic cards and tutor training  One tutor per language, no SL experience  One month preparation time and equipment  Over 10 weeks, 1h1/2 per session, early morning  In the lab (some from home)  Average time 2 hours preparation
    7. 7.  Following Herrington and Oliver, 1995  Authentic context  Authentic activities  Multiple roles and perspectives  Coaching and scaffolding at critical times  Expert Performance, modelling Dancing “Thriller” on a haunted sim Ordering Pizza on Solaria
    8. 8. Buying food in Arcachon Visiting a 3rd Art gallery at LEA Italians and their pets on the Piazza San Marco Venezia Visit on a Gondola
    9. 9. Exploring Art on Torley Island Philosophy at the Roman Discussion at the Moulin Rouge Driving a French 2CV
    10. 10. In the text chat: Would you consider learning a language in- world? Would you consider teaching in-world?  Tell us if you have any experience
    11. 11. Implementation Phase  ITS support (firewall ports, hardware and broadband issues)  Department support, VWs design take a lot of preparation  Inform and prepare your students well  Inform and prepare your guest speakers well In-world  Plan at least two training sessions (interface, camera, avatar, etc..)  Know the environment(s) well to coach students well  Get them to explore with a mission (short instructions)  Get them to interact with people you trust  Don‟t lose contact with them – group management  Multi-task as the leader  look & act & deliver & think ahead
    12. 12. Explorations  More thematic treasure hunts  Broader than simply linguistic and cultural targets  Improvisation versus controlled Train guest speakers – less guest speakers  talking time / silences / questions  Not at every session Give time for contemplation then reflection  Ice breaker recap / mid- / end of session Propose project early stage  Digital storytelling in a selected setting  Machinima as final outcome? WHAT NEXT: TRIM2 2013
    13. 13.  Really difficult when you are not tech savvy. Sometimes things happened to environment that you can‟t change back then you miss the whole conversation because you try to fix it” - French B1  This is just a question of taste, but I dislike the realism of the sims because the illusion is inevitably shattered by the unrealistic behaviour of the environment, objects,” - French B1  There was a feeling of natural (even though it‟s virtual!) and authentic communication (did not feel forced to participate) – Spanish B1  “I liked having the other native speakers there, the only thing I didn't enjoy was having second life classes on things we hadn't gone over in class” – Italian A1
    14. 14.  Together with the quality of selected guests, the variety of tools at disposition and the spontaneous involvement from students, I find the sessions to have efficiently led the group to reach the courses goals and achievements. Students have appropriately practised their listening skills and developed adequate strategies of comprehension (using virtual contextual elements)  Being a total beginner implied for me to go through a process of initiation, which I must say was “smooth” and intuitive.  Despite a certain “reluctance” inspired by a background of more „classical academic approaches,”.
    15. 15. Contact us:    
    16. 16.  Herrington, J. and Oliver, R. (1995) Critical Characteristics of Situated Learning: Implications for the Instruction Design of Multimedia. ASCILITE 1995 [online]  Kohonen, V. 2000. Learning to learn through reflection – an experiential learning perspective [online]  Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.  Whang F., Bruton J.K., Fall J. (2012) A three-step Model for Designing Initial Second Life_Based Foreign Language Learning Activities, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Vol.8, N0.4 December 2012 [online]