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Global

A Boon To Second Life Language Schools, Technology Review, April 10, 2007

My piece posted Tuesday on Technology Review’s website:

Immersive language learning in a realistic environment with native-speaking teachers will soon be available online, in the popular virtual world Second Life. Starting in September, a language school called Languagelab.com will offer English and Spanish classes. The cost of the classes will be comparable to those in the real world, which can cost several hundred U.S. dollars for a semester-long course. “You won’t be taking classes in LanguageLab because it’s a lot cheaper,” says LanguageLab founder David Kaskel, an entrepreneur and PhD candidate at the Center for Computing in the Humanities at King’s College, London. “We think it’s a lot better than in a physical space because there’s more you can offer than in a classroom.”

To read the rest of the piece, go here.

I wanted to go into games and microworlds for language learning in more depth. One big issue: Do these help students learn faster and better? I haven’t seen any outcome studies. But if structured immersion in the physical world works, then interactions in digital environments should work too. Another big issue: How long does the gee-whiz effect take to wear off? I presume that homework in Second Life is just as odious…