The Most Motivating Way to Learn Language is in Virtual Reality

Motivation as key to success in language learning

When it comes to learning any skill, motivation is key to success. If you aren’t motivated, you won’t make progress. The same goes for language; if you’re bored and frustrated, if you think the language is irrelevant, if you have no valid reason to pursue it, then you’ll never learn it! So how does one become- and stay- motivated to learn a language? Pedagogical researchers and linguists have been researching and debating this for decades. One solution that is gaining popularity among them is Virtual Reality (VR).

Why motivation matters

Simply put, motivation matters in language learning because you can’t succeed without it. As linguist Zoltan Dornyei puts it, “motivation is one of the main determinants of second / foreign language (L2) learning achievement.1

How virtual reality motivates language learning

VR is compelling:

According to revolutionary linguist Stephen Krashen, students must have compelling input to learn a language. In other words, the foreign language must be presented in an interesting and engaging way. As Krashen put it, “instead of trying to motivate our students by urging them to work hard and reminding them how important it is to know English, let’s take advantage of the natural process, and make sure they have access to input that they find compelling, in class and outside of class.2

” We all remember nodding off during language lessons in high school- the lectures were boring! Learning in Virtual Reality is completely different. Throwing on your headset, meeting up with people in different contexts, and engaging in important conversations in our VR scenes provides extremely compelling input.

VR helps you stick with it:

In order to succeed in learning a language, you must not only be motivated to start in the first place, but you must also be motivated to continue! After all, learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint. Learning language in VR is so engaging that students find it much more exciting to return day after day to keep learning. “Virtual worlds (aka VR) help students be more at ease and help affective factors, improving their view of language learning and self-efficacy so they’ll be more motivated in the future.3

VR leads to better outcomes and attitudes:

We are usually more motivated in something when we feel we are making progress. No one likes the feeling of just sitting there spinning your wheels, making no progress. Vogel et al. conducted a meta-analysis of 32 studies and found that “those using interactive simulations or games report higher cognitive gains and better attitudes toward learning compared to those using traditional teaching methods.” Virtual Reality is thus motivating because it makes language learning more effective and more enjoyable.

The Takeaway

You’ve just learned how important motivation is for language learning and why learning in VR is the most motivating way to learn language. If you’re wondering what learning language in VR would look like, check out our page at!

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  1. Dörnyei, Z. (1994). Motivation and Motivating in the Foreign Language Classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 78(3), 273-284. doi:10.2307/330107
  2. Krashen, Stephen “The End of Motivation.” SKrashen. Web. 2015.
  3. Zheng, D., Young, M., Brewer, R., & Wagner, M. (2009). Attitude and Self-Efficacy Change: English Language Learning in Virtual Worlds. CALICO Journal, 27(1), 205-231. Retrieved from

Posted on

January 2, 2019