The future of language learning in virtual worlds

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Virtual worlds have recently gained popularity in language learning and technology communities However, the affordances and potentiality of virtual embodiment has not been fully explored. Examining practices in Second Life, we hope to provide a think piece that will arouse further discussion of good design and practices in virtual worlds.


  • 1. The Transformation of Language Learning in Virtual Worlds Dongping Zheng Department of Second Language Studies University of Hawaii Kristi Newgarden University of Connecticut LLCMC, Hawaii, October 12, 2009

2. 3. 4. Nie jin dianer! 5. 6. Learning online is different from learning face-2-face visual cues, eye contacts, body gestures 7. (Coiro & Dobler, 2007) . 8. 2D is different from avatar-based 3D environments Body movement, visual perception, social presence 9. Imagine a hypertext internet screen It can be individualistic? 10. You can see who is online and doing whatA guildon aquest 11. Linearvs. Parallel processing Step-by-stepvs.Random access Text firstvs.Graphic first Stand alonevs.Connected Passivevs.ActiveRead manual firstvs.Zing zing Workvs.Play Patiencevs. Payoff Realityvs.Fantasy Technology as foevs.Technology as a friend Content centeredvs.Learner centered Learn to take testvs.Demand learning to succeed Abstractvs.Immediate consequence One fits allvs. Balancing of difficulty Informationvs.Reciprocal transformation Digital game-based learning(liberman, 2006;Prensky,2001; Winn, 2007) ) 12. Linear+ Parallel processing Step-by-step+ Random access Text first+ Graphic first Stand alone+ Connected Passive+ ActiveRead manual first+ Zing zing Work+ Play Patience+ Payoff Reality+ Fantasy Technology as foe+ Technology as a friend Content centered+ Learner centered Learn to take test+ Demand learning to succeed Abstract+ Immediate consequence One fits all+ Balancing of difficulty Information+ Reciprocal transformation The Transformation of Language Learning in Virtual Worlds (Zheng & Newgarden, 2009) 13. (More than) Five ways to look at learning differently

  • From Transfer to Conceptual Blend
  • From Input to Affordances
  • From Negotiation for Meaning to Negotiation for Action
  • From Task-based Learning to Design of Learning Environments
  • From Learning About to Learning to Be

14. From Transfer to Conceptual Blend (Brown & Thomas, 2009)

  • Will the skills learned in virtual worlds be transferred to real life situations?

15. Languaging Linell, 2009 A dialogical theory of language must assign primacy to actionrather than to pure cognition and to transmission 16. Languaging Swain, 2006Inspired by Vygostky,thoughts and language are inseparable, the relationship between them is ongoing, thought to language and language to thought is a process. 17. Embodying Hirose (2002)tools extend the boundaries (skin, limb) of our body and alter our effectivities.Also see Clinton (2006 ) and Soares, (2008) on avatars move became players move 18. Embodying Clark (2001) alerts us that "the emphasis on language as medium of communication tends to blind us to a subtler but equally potent role:the role of language as a tool that alters the nature of the computational task involved in various kinds of problem solving " (p.193). 19. Conceptual Blend (Thomas & Brown, 2008) a gamer resides in both virtual and physical blended resources simultaneously developed dispositions 20. Quest Atlantis 21. Language Learner? 22. From Input to Affordances ( van Lier, 2000 & 2004) 23. 24. Is virtual real?When we treat virtual as real, what do we gain or miss as far as incorporating the full potential of the 3-D virtual WORLD? 25. Semiotic Sources (Thibault, 2005; van Lier, 2004) Classroom vs. virtual worlds 26. Affordances and the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)a) an affordance expresses a relationship between a person and a linguistic b) linguistic affordances are specified in the linguistic expression, and available to the active interlocutor c) the affordances picked up serve the agent to promote further action and lead to higher and more successful levels of interaction. 27. Dogme Second Life, Google Docs, Whiteboards and Skype 28. Holodeck 29. From Task-based Learning and Teaching to the Design of Learning Environments 30. A real life task Task: You are at a party.Introduce your partner to three other people.Role play: You are taking part in a job interview. Your partner will ask you about yourself. Answer his/her questions. 31. 1. language as abstract objects and rules, and2. language as action. (Linell, 2009) "many aspects of the detailed order of interactions cannot be imagined by armchair reflections; they are discoverable in actual data, but not imaginable" 32. From Negotiation for Meaning to Negotiation for Action (Zheng et al., 2009) "individual selves cannot be assumed to exist as agents and thinkers before they begin to interact with others and the world.(Linell, 2009) 33. Nik

  • Many classroom activities do not work very well in SL. They lead to groups of students standing around in circles reading notecards. He believes the environment is so visually strong that we need to be able to use it, to create large spaces with motivating games. This will take serious groups of people with serious SL skills to be able to do this. One participant mentions the common misconception of people thinking of SL as a game. This is good because it is attractive to students who like games. But it's also bad because teachers generally think of SL as a game and don't take it seriously. Strong motivations in computer games (mastering tasks, preserving life, evading enemies, etc) are lacking in SL. People will do things over and over again in order to get to the next stage of a game. This is one of the strengths of gaming that could be built into learning. (

34. Action-Based Learning (van Lier, forthcoming) Task-basedContent-basedProject-basedExploratoryExperientialEnglish for specific purposes (ESP) Community-based language socialization Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) 35. Literacy in the Passion of Art, Hisotry, Music, Sports "in a dialgoical theory of languaging ("praxis"), performances is being conceptualized as partly in the performing arts (music, there religious rituals, etc.) (p. 274) 36. From Learning About to Learning to BeEmergent Identity development Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP) 37. Conclusion The possibilities of language learning in virtual worlds may perhaps impact those who have traditionally had the least access to opportunities to the target language. As we look at the common practices in SL, we found it difficult not to bring up concepts of the alternative learning paradigm, the ecological and dialogical view of sense making. 38. ALOHAspiritXiexie