How many times have you tried (and failed) to learn a language? You’re not alone. Now linguists are saying it may not be totally your fault.
As theory-based techniques are becoming increasingly scrutinized and the need to experiment with a practical curriculum increases, we can look at VR’s role in EdTech’s trajectory and the ways it seeks to impact the language-learning of the future.
Why do 95% of language-learners fail?
With an estimated 1 billion people learning English alone, 95% is a huge drop off. According to language experts, a natural setting versus an instructed setting plays as much of a role in successful language learning as personal motivation.
In a 2010 study (pdf), linguistics professor, Carmen Muñoz heavily favors a natural setting over instruction-based learning when writing on language-learning methodologies as: 1) In an instructed setting, the sessions are limited to 2-4 sessions per week and up to 50 minutes per session 2) The target language exposure is very low compared to the first language of the learner and is majorly not used as a form of communication between the teacher and the learner 3) The target language is not the language commonly used between peers 4) The target language is often not used outside of the classroom.
How much of this sounds familiar?
The glaring commonality across each of these is the lack of exposure and a lack of immersion to the language being learned. Traditional, instructional language learning focuses on the constructions of the language itself rather than the use of the language: ‘Almost any second language learner who is provided with sufficient exposure to the target language will outperform those who are not given the opportunity to practice the target language in a social environment.’
The Opportunity of VR & AR for Education and Social Good
Consistent language exposure in a social space is the optimal environment for successful language learning. VR and AR can help solve for this need. VR opens the doors to practical language engagement and also helps democratize learning institution access. With the accessibility of VR at an all-time high due to cheaper standalone headsets, more and more learners will have the opportunity to experience a new level of learning through immersion.
Check out a few of the VR experiences below making waves in this immersive space:
AltspaceVR (Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Gear VR, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, Windows Mixed Reality)
The social VR app is continuing to make waves. Not just through the seminal experience added last month ‘VR Church’, but also through newer VR language learning meet-ups.
These important VR spaces are a safe haven for anyone who wishes to practice conversation skills in a real-time, immersive environment whilst receiving feedback. The AltSpace team added meetups for Japanese, Spanish, French and Italian. All these incredible experiences are available on the standalone headsets and a PC so you can join in wherever you are.
Mondly (Oculus Go, Gear VR, iOS, Android)
Last year, ATi studios launched VR and AR experience Mondly, presumably influenced by the Spanish and Italian word ‘Mondo’ meaning ‘world’. An immersive experience, Mondly takes your avatar through a series of scenarios you would expect to experience as a tourist in a foreign land.
Experience the chit chat in a taxi cab, transactional speech at a restaurant and asking for help using public transport; the real tourist experience. Since arriving on the scene in early 2017, Mondly has been largely unrivaled as the main language learning VR platform and is a great place to practice your speaking privately, away from prying eyes and ears.
Argotian (Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, HTC Vive)
Developed by Virtro Entertainment, Argotian, from the French ‘argot’ meaning ‘personal slang’ or idiolect, promises to provide an amalgamation of VR and AI for an all-immersive, real-time, AI language-learning experience.
While traveling on a spaceship as an undercover cop, you must navigate your way through the many twists and turns to uncover the smugglers. Your crew and fellow passengers onboard are all characters with artificial intelligence, meaning rather than repetition, you will be learning through action (gameplay and scenario) and conversation in real time..
Argotian is set to launch 2019.
[Disclaimer: Faye Maidment is currently employed at Virtro Entertainment]
Could language-learning in VR be the game-changer the EdTech industry has been waiting for? Will the education industry be as fully receptive to supporting VR as other industries?
We’ll just have to watch this AltSpace.
Image Credit: Virtro Entertainment / Altspace / ATi Studios