Virtual Worlds as Learning Platforms

VW’s strengths as learning platforms for English language teaching and training lie in their multinational, multiethnic, and multilingual set-up.  They essentially are a sandbox for highly immersive experiential learning where almost any conceivable educational scenario can be simulated and carried out. In-World students often identify strongly with their alter-ego avatar.  Avatars can manipulate and use objects while socially networking in a 3D environment. With an alter ego buffering the self-conscious hurdle of fluency practice participants are more likely to speak to peers and mentors, join and/or form groups to meet like-minded persons, seek out casual conversations and enjoy educative congregating such as coffee house socializing, fire-pit talks or rezzing in to meet new group members for hang-outs.

Generally, participants experience VW’s as less intimidating places which enable both native and non-native interaction with a potential for community building and Virtual World –> Real World (RW) carryover. Particularly favored features are instantaneous virtual traveling (teleporting) to RW locations in SL, the existence of support groups and forums for formal and informal learning, all of which enable L2 language acquisition through experimental experiences.