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Proceedings Paper

Foreign language learning in immersive virtual environments
Author(s): Benjamin Chang; Lee Sheldon; Mei Si; Anton Hand
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Paper Abstract

Virtual reality has long been used for training simulations in fields from medicine to welding to vehicular operation, but simulations involving more complex cognitive skills present new design challenges. Foreign language learning, for example, is increasingly vital in the global economy, but computer-assisted education is still in its early stages. Immersive virtual reality is a promising avenue for language learning as a way of dynamically creating believable scenes for conversational training and role-play simulation. Visual immersion alone, however, only provides a starting point. We suggest that the addition of social interactions and motivated engagement through narrative gameplay can lead to truly effective language learning in virtual environments. In this paper, we describe the development of a novel application for teaching Mandarin using CAVE-like VR, physical props, human actors and intelligent virtual agents, all within a semester-long multiplayer mystery game. Students travel (virtually) to China on a class field trip, which soon becomes complicated with intrigue and mystery surrounding the lost manuscript of an early Chinese literary classic. Virtual reality environments such as the Forbidden City and a Beijing teahouse provide the setting for learning language, cultural traditions, and social customs, as well as the discovery of clues through conversation in Mandarin with characters in the game.

Paper Details

Date Published: 8 February 2012
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 8289, The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality 2012, 828902 (8 February 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.909835
Show Author Affiliations
Benjamin Chang, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)
Lee Sheldon, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)
Mei Si, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)
Anton Hand, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8289:
The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality 2012
Ian E. McDowall; Margaret Dolinsky, Editor(s)

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