Extended reality technology like virtual reality (VR) is starting to impact education by providing immersive and rewarding means of learning.
Despite being in its infancy, extended reality in education is already proving itself a powerful tool to help learners stay engaged and retain more knowledge.
The World Bank once commissioned a study to find out how VR can help develop student skills. The study was able to yield the following results:
- From a total of 72 experiments, findings showed that VR was equally or more conducive to improving learning than traditional training.
- Students exposed to VR training score 3% higher than those who went through traditional methods.
- Those who completed VR training showed 20% higher levels of confidence and efficacy in learning.
- Students exposed to VR training are 30% more efficient than those who studied through traditional training.
There’s no denying that VR is an effective means of instruction to develop skills. Teachers and students can use it in the area of language learning.
This article will talk about how virtual reality can be an effective tool for language learning and teaching. We’ll discuss the common problems of language learning, and the benefits VR can bring to the table.
Common Challenges in Language Learning
Like any other skill, learning a new language comes with several challenges that students need to overcome.
Monotonous Non-Practical Learning
In many classes, instructors often teach a language just like any other theoretical subject. These classes are focused on the construction of the language, like teaching grammatical rules and dissecting sentences.
While this may help students in creating sentences, this doesn’t always translate well during day-to-day conversations.
Treating language learning like any other subject can also make the whole experience monotonous or uninteresting to many. This may cause a lack of motivation or interest which affects language learning.
No Exposure to Native Speakers
Talking to someone who speaks the language you are trying to learn can be very beneficial. Unfortunately, this is not always an option for many schools, so students end up talking to other students who are unfamiliar with the language.
Teachers may not always have the time to converse with each student individually. This lack of exposure to native speakers makes learning a new language difficult.
Experiential learning is when a student gets to experience a certain situation and learn from it. This is an effective way of learning any skill. The retention rate can reach up to 90% for experiential learning compared to traditional learning, which is 5%.
However, experiencing a real-life scenario is near impossible in a traditional classroom. This limits a student’s ability to apply the language they are learning in a real-life situation.
Immersion: The key to Language Learning
The glaring commonality between these three challenges is the lack of exposure and immersion to the learned language. This lack of language immersion is what virtual technology aims to address.
It is said that the best way to learn a language is to experience it in its natural environment. While many would say it’s only possible through physical travel, virtual reality opens new doors that allow learners to be exposed to other languages and cultures.
When you put on a VR headset, you instantly get immersed in a three-dimensional world where you can interact, touch, and feel. Unlike traditional learning environments, VR allows students to find themselves in virtual situations that mimic real life.
In VR, for example, students can find themselves virtually transported to a cafe in Japan. They can practice listening, speaking, and interacting in Japanese. Some VR applications allow students to interact with other students from around the world or practice conversations with AI-powered avatars.
VR language learning is already being proven to be an effective way to learn. According to ESL teacher Michelle Cowan, her students learn more and faster when teaching with VR.
Her findings are just one of the growing piles of research that shows VR technology is an effective way to learn.
Benefits of Virtual Reality to Language Learning
Here are just a few more benefits of VR language learning:
- Improved Engagement: Interacting with virtual environments can be more motivating and stimulating than in the traditional classroom. VR technology also opens the door for the gamification of learning which helps provide a more engaging and rewarding experience.
- Improved Retention: Engaging and experiencing situations in a 3D virtual space has been shown to aid recall. A University of Maryland study found that the use of VR helps improve recall accuracy.
- Improved Fluency: Learners tend to be anxious when speaking a new language in the presence of a native speaker. VR addresses this by providing exposure and allowing students to practice anytime using a personalized routine. This helps students speak more confidently and fluently in the real world.
This technology opens more opportunities for students of all ages and sectors to experience a higher level of learning through immersion and exposure.
VR technologies are quickly becoming an integral part of how we learn and communicate. VR can play a role in not just language learning but the entire education system.
It’s time to explore how extended reality technologies can transform the way we learn. VEDX is a virtual reality design and consulting firm focused on the advancement of education using new technologies.
If your organization is looking into ways to integrate virtual reality technology into your programs, contact us today for a free consultation and find the right solution to your needs.