Exploring the Potential of Second Life to Prepare Language Students for their Year Abroad

By Mari Carmen Gil Ortega and Susanna Romans-Roca.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article provides a description and discussion of the design, implementation and evaluation of a project which explored how the virtual environment Second Life (SL) could be used to support the preparation for their year abroad of a group of second year undergraduate students of Spanish. The goal was to use SL’s immersive opportunities to enhance students’ language skills, to promote a better understanding of cultural aspects of the Spanish speaking world, as well as to increase their confidence and their overall motivation. The impact of the project on students’ learning was evaluated by observations, questionnaires, individual and focus groups interviews, learning diaries and reflective evaluations. The results show that, generally, students perceived SL as having had an overall positive impact on their preparation for their year abroad. Most students felt that they improved their language skills, became more aware about some cultural aspects, and gained confidence and motivation.

Keywords: Second Life, Virtual Worlds, Placement, Year Abroad, Immersive Learning, Experiential Learning, Collaborative learning

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp.57-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 625.372KB).

Dr. Mari Carmen Gil Ortega

Senior Lecturer, Department of Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

Mari-Carmen is Senior Lecturer in Spanish and Award Leader of the distance MA in Language Teaching. She has wide experience in the design and evaluation of both printed and online materials for language teaching. As part of her PhD Mari-Carmen studied aspects of academic international mobility by researching on the socio-cultural and academic adaptation challenges and the language barriers encountered by a group of Spanish students enrolled in UK universities. For the purpose of the investigation, she also designed and appraised web-based materials to attempt to mitigate the errors of Spanish students due to first language transfer. Mari-Carmen is currently researching on how to best use the new technologies available (particularly virtual worlds such as Second Life, but also web 2.0 applications) to enhance the teaching and learning of foreign languages and promote intercultural communication.

Susanna Romans-Roca

Senior Lecturer, Department of Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

Susanna Romans-Roca is a Senior Lecturer in Spanish and European Studies. She has wide experience preparing and coordinating the production of materials for teaching and learning purposes. Susanna is also Placements Tutor for students in the Spanish award.

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