Let’s be real. Being fully immersed inside VR is fun and exciting! Technology has come a long way and putting on a VR headset for the first time can be truly mind blowing. But are all these bells and whistles just for show? Or can VR actually improve your language learning?
In short, yes.
VR has several benefits, or affordances as researchers in the field call them, that are advantageous for language learning. We will be delving deeper into several of these in later blogs for you, but for now, let’s start with a general overview of why and how VR has the power to transform your learning experience.
So, what makes VR such a powerful language learning tool?
According to the research on VR and language learning, VR has unprecedented potential to offer contextualized, culturally relevant learning and to virtually transport students to destinations that they cannot physically visit. This means you can learn how to order your favorite meal at our Immerse restaurant or how to state your opinion while in the debate room! All this matters, because learning vocabulary in a meaningful context leads to better learning and retention.
VR also promotes social interaction and social learning. Other language learning apps mostly give you a series of meaningless drill-based activities to do on your phone. You don’t even use the language to interact with others. But with Immerse, you get to converse with other Members and our expert language Guides in real-time while visiting different locations together. This is key, because researchers say social interaction is a major driver of successful language learning.
Think about it this way – you can’t learn a language in a vacuum on your own.
Although you may learn some vocabulary by studying independently, you need to be able to practice speaking with others to make progress and become fluent.
Studies have also shown that VR has a positive influence on how motivated, engaged, and confident you feel while learning. The importance of this should not be underestimated, since these so-called affective factors are necessary for reaching fluency. And let’s face it. Learning a language is hard. It requires long-term dedication, and it can be really intimidating to take risks in a language when you are not fully confident in your speaking abilities. VR has been shown to help with this. Indeed, many studies have found that language learners are more motivated and less anxious in VR than in more traditional classroom settings. This has been attributed to VR’s fun, game-like qualities and to the fact that learners’ identities are concealed by avatars. Read more about all the benefits of using an avatar here.
Now, do all these benefits actually influence how well you learn?
According to the research, YES! Numerous studies have examined VR’s impact on language learning and have found that students learned vocabulary better and had improved listening, grammar, speaking, and pronunciation after VR lessons when compared to more traditional learning settings. This means that you are setting yourself up for optimum success by being an Immerse member.
For tips on how to make the most of learning a language in VR, check out our blog, Making the Most of Learning in Immerse.
And if you’re curious to read the actual research showing how VR is effective for language learning, these articles are a great place to start:
- A Systematic Review of Research on High-Immersion Virtual Reality for Language Learning
- A Systematic Review of AR and VR Enhanced Language Learning
- Trends in VR/AR Technology-supporting Language Learning from 2008-2019: A Research Perspective
- Virtual Reality in Language Learning: A Systematic Review and Implications for Research and Practice
- Immerse lets you work with language in context, which leads to stronger language learning.
- Immerse allows you to learn a language the way it's actually spoken, rather than the way it appears in learning apps or textbooks.
- Immerse makes learning a language fun instead of scary.
- VR has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to learn new pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, speaking, and listening.