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How Virtual Reality Can Transform Language Teaching

The iVROX team discuss speaking in tongues – more specifically how VR can help you learn others.

In the connected world that we live in, having command on multiple languages can be a great plus for anyone. In some countries, learning English serves as a way for people to find jobs in foreign countries to achieve financial stability. However, these people are often faced challenges when it comes to grasping command on other languages. Their language training is often missing the vital elements that help a person learn a language quickly. Virtual Reality (VR) might be on the verge of changing that completely. VR technology is quickly penetrating into educational landscapes and transforming the way students learn.

Learning / EducationBefore talking about VR’s role in language learning, let’s take a look at the common challenges faced by students while learning other languages.

Common Challenges When Learning a Language

Non-Practical Learning

In most language classes, teachers end up teaching language like any other theoretical subject. They teach grammatical rules and help students dissect sentences, eventually enabling them to make sentences without external help. However, these sentences are often very “literary” i.e. they don’t fit in day-to-day conversations. Consequently, the student is able to make sentences but has a hard time “conversing” in a real-life situation.

No Exposure To Native Speakers

It can help a student big time to be able to talk to a real person who speaks the language the student is learning. However, the student has to talk to other students who are not very good at speaking the language themselves. The teacher, on the other hand, does not have enough time to converse with every student individually. Such lack of exposure to native speakers makes learning difficult for the student.

Non-Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is when a student can be a part of the situation and learn from it. Classrooms are classrooms, no matter how much you change their settings. Mimicking a real-life situation is close to being impossible in a classroom. As a result, a student is never fully able to experience a situation and loses to the pressure of a real-life situation causing him/her to choke while trying to speak another language. Did you know retention rate is up to 90% for experiential learning as compared to only 5% for traditional learning?

Boring And Monotonous

The whole idea of treating language learning like any other subject makes the whole experience quite boring for most students. They get to listen to 45-minute lectures, read from small booklets and convert sentences just like they do in any other subject’s class. The boredom causes lack of motivation and non-interest affects learning negatively.

How VR Is Overcoming These Challenges

VR can provide a solution to every issue that existing language learning system has today. Students can become a part of a world using virtual reality – a world in which they can interact with life-like characters. For them, it will be like talking to native speakers. Furthermore, learners will be able to walk into real-life situations, which is as close to reality as it can get. Some companies have already created such applications for language learning and the Mondly VR app is a great example of that. This application has been designed for language learning and it allows students to be in real situations for experiential learning.

Second Life is a virtual world that allows people to have real-life experiences and get exposure to things that might otherwise appear boring on textbooks. Another language learning platform Alelo has also added VR to its web-based learning.

The Challenges in Implementing VR for Language Learning

Since VR in education is in its early stages, there are many challenges that it has to overcome with the passage of time. Some of the common issues that VR implementation faces in learning languages are as follows:

  • The technology needs to be more prevalent than it is right now. At the moment, there are very few companies with VR applications that are specifically for language learning.
  • VR headsets have to be affordable too because language institutes in under-developed countries cannot afford to invest in expensive technologies no matter how useful they are. There are some companies with products like our own iVrox VR, Merge VR or Freefly VR that are trying to provide high-level VR experience at affordable prices.
  • The teachers with old-school approach have to embrace the technology rather than pushing it away due to the fear that it might take away their jobs.

Final Thoughts

There should not be a hint of doubt that VR can play a revolutionary role in transforming not just language learning but the entire existing education system. With more and more companies realizing the changing landscapes of education sector, you can expect the technology to improve fast and become affordable and accessible to everyone around the world.


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