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Virtual Worlds for Language Learning

From Theory to Practice


Randall Sadler

This book focuses on one area in the field of Computer-Mediated Communication that has recently exploded in popularity – Virtual Worlds. Virtual Worlds are online multiplayer three-dimensional environments where avatars represent their real world counterparts. In particular, this text explores the potential for these environments to be used for language learning and telecollaboration. After providing an introduction and history of the area, this volume examines learning theories – both old and new – that apply to the use of Virtual Worlds and language learning. The book also examines some of the most popular Virtual Worlds currently available, including a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of each. The Virtual World of Second Life is explored in depth, including research examining how users of this world are using language there, and how they are using it to enhance their second language skills.


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Series Editors’ Preface 7


7 Series Editors’ Preface This series is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the activity of telecollaboration in educational settings. Telecollaboration refers to the pedagogical processes and outcomes of engaging learn- ers in different geographical locations in virtual contact together, mediated through the application of online communication tools such as e-mail, synchronous chat and threaded discussion as well as the tools of Web 2.0 such as wikis, blogs, social networking and 3D virtual worlds. The application of such activity may include different subject areas (e.g. Foreign Language Education, History, Science) as well as different educational contexts, including but not limited to primary, secondary, university and adult education. This second volume in our series looks at a key theme in the area of foreign language education in recent years: the potential of Virtual Worlds (VWs) for foreign language-based interaction and exchange. It is almost axiomatic to say that major forces of change are defying us to accommodate to new ideas of learning that leverage technologies and human capital in new ways. Teachers are facing challenges to adapt to new understandings of not only how learning takes place, but also new concepts of how and where learning occurs—in the ‘real’ world or in simulated worlds where learners are physically distributed across the globe but gathered together through 3D representations of selves. Virtual worlds are already being touted as relevant foreign lan- guage learning environments because they are engaging and motivat- ing for learners and, at the same time, a cost-effective...

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