Language learning in virtual worlds

Saba, Riad (2013) Language learning in virtual worlds. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Language Learning has utilized technology for decades, and while world-wide social dynamics place more demands for language learning, there has not been a widespread use of a specific technology as the dominant medium for language learning. In the meanwhile, Virtual Worlds technology emerged during the last two decades as an immersive technology that offers an online representation of reality, allowing user interaction with the surrounding environment including objects and other users through Internet-enabled desktop personal computers. Since their introduction, Virtual Worlds have grown in popularity, and are now utilized by a large online community as social and gaming environments. Over two decades of research have shown the potential of Virtual Worlds for learning in various fields, but very few empirical studies have been dedicated to explore Virtual Worlds for language learning.

The focus of this PhD research project is to explore the potential of the Virtual World Second Life in enabling effective language learning. The research question is as follows: ‘Could Virtual Worlds offer a suitable language learning environment, similar or better than that offered by traditional media of language learning?’ Towards answering that question, a pilot and two studies were conducted in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively. Arabic language classes were delivered to groups of language learners in the UK using different media of language learning: a face-to-face (f-to-f) classroom, a videoconferencing (VC) classroom, and a Virtual World (VW) classroom.

The language learning quality outcomes along with student attitudes were assessed through a comparative analysis between the three media, involving attitude surveys, interviews, assessments of learning outcomes, and the critical incident method applied to video recordings. Due to several limitations, the effectiveness of the VW medium in enhancing the quality of the language learning experience was found lacking in the light of data collected and analyzed. A set of conditions and recommendations is therefore described to better utilize VWs for language learning.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Sharples, M.
Crook, C.K.
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 14011
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2014 08:57
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 02:02

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