From Simulations to Virtuality: Mirroring Tasks for Language Learning
The boom of 3D virtual worlds in education is attracting the interest of many language teachers due to its great potential for language practice as an immersion experience. Its significance is based on a sense of presence (solving a common difficulty of distance learning programs), a sense of authenticity (offering real tasks to the language learner), a sense of creativity (developing the learner's imagination) and a sense of gaming (providing motivation and a "flow" experience in the learning process).
Considering these senses, we are facing a new learning environment (Svensson, 2003; Stevens, 2006) that will necessarily prompt a new language learning methodology. This developing MUVE (Multi-user Virtual Environment) methodology can also take advantage of some language learning methods from the past such as simulations in the 80s (Jones, 1983; Crookall & Oxford, 1990) or tasks using MOOs (Multi-user domain Object Oriented) in the 90s (Shield et al. 2000), which can provide a pedagogically sound basis for meaningful learning-teaching activities.
This paper explores the methodological potential for language learning in 3D virtual worlds. A brief historical overview will be first provided about the methodology and activities starting with simulations in real classrooms and moving then to virtual learning experiences in MOOs and 3D virtual worlds. A classification of language learning tasks in MUVEs will be also presented, analysing the common tasks at present used in different language learning courses.
Keywords: 3D MUVE, Foreign Language Learning Methodology, Language Learning, Web 2.0
Dr. Joan-Tomàs Pujolà
Vice-dean of the Faculty of Education, Department of Language and Literature Education, Universitat de Barcelona
EFL Teacher, English Department, Escola Oficial d'Idiomes La Pau
Dr. Miquel Llobera
Professor, Department of Language and Literature Education, Universitat de Barcelona