Learning a second language is challenging. It requires substantial time to learn the basics of a new language, and it requires sustained effort to become fluent. However, a recent body of research suggests that XR technology will help people accelerate their language learning. In a recently published meta-analysis on “The Effects of Virtual Reality-Assisted Language Learning,” scientists discovered that virtual reality positively impacts language learning outcomes—especially in adolescents and adults.
To learn a new language, your mind needs to create new cognitive frameworks and rewire how you interpret speech and writing. To do that, you’ll want all the help you can get. Over the last 12 years, at least 21 studies have been conducted that measure the impact of virtual reality technology on language learning. The results are unanimous: In all cases, virtual reality learning resulted in a “positive linguistic gain” in all cases.
The meta-analysis authors gave two classifications to the study subjects: Immersive VR, which incorporates a headset or a projected CAVE environment, and non-immersive VR, which includes 360 videos. The authors concluded that young children demonstrated equal or better learning with non-immersive learning. At the same time, middle school and college-age students experienced notable improvements in speaking, listening, and vocabulary when using VR-assisted tools for studying.
The bulk of the current research focused on learning English as a second language. The data concludes that this method of study works for English learners. Still, the small sample size of other languages like Chinese and German leave their benefit inconclusive, although the outlook is positive.
The idea that VR can help you learn a new language is not a new concept for Bit Space Development. We’ve been working with Georgian College to develop a series of VR-assisted language learning tools for nearly two years. During the pandemic, Georgian College faced the significant challenge of keeping its Indigenous language courses operating under lockdown. The school was not satisfied with sitting on the sidelines and waiting. The class professors commissioned BSD to develop VR experiences to help students learn words in Anishnaabemowin recorded by elders with deep knowledge of the language.
So far, we’ve rolled out three language environments, with more in development and on the way. The first three include Language in the Home, Language in the Community, and Language in the Natural Environment. The idea behind these projects is to show students a visual representation of the words they are learning. Each VR space represents environments you would encounter in your day-to-day life. You will find items with audio triggers attached to them scattered around the environment. You’ll hear the Anishnaabemowin word that describes the object when you trigger its audio queue. Students at Georgian College have been using these experiences with great success since late 2021.
The release of the recent meta-analysis study validates the hard work that we’ve been doing for the last two years. We started this project with the assumption that this would work. Now we have the science to back thesis and we’re eager to put it to work. We’re looking for partners who want to build exciting language learning experiences.
Our team of consultants is always ready for an ideation session. Book a no-obligation meeting today!