The Usefulness of Second Life for Language Learning

The Usefulness of Second Life for Language Learning

Bryan Carter (University of Central Missouri, USA) and Dayton Elseth (Mohawk Valley Community College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-994-6.ch027
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Abstract

Within academia, distance learning as an approach to education has its share of skeptics. Regardless of how some feel about the methodology, it has become a viable alternative to more traditional classroom instruction. In fact, distance learning methods such as learning management systems, video conferencing, and CD-ROM programs can yield success in second or foreign language courses as well. While those other computer-based learning tools have produced positive results, this study attempts to gauge the usefulness of an Internet-based virtual reality environment called Second Life. This virtual world, not initially intended for second or foreign language teaching, contains environments that are similar to those found in the “real world” that can be manipulated by users for educational purposes. The subjects in this study—three students in an introductory German class and students of two semesters of composition—45 in number, all felt that Second Life helped their language progression and/or helped inspire their writing. All wanted to see expanded use of Second Life in their classes.
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Distance Learning

As new technologies become accepted in education, instructors are encouraged to adapt and incorporate them into their pedagogy. Many innovations are intended for the enhancement of the classroom experience itself. Some of these frequently adopted tools are overhead projectors with transparencies, streaming audio and video from the World Wide Web, and PowerPoint presentations with LCD projectors. These tools make the learning experience much more interesting for students and teachers alike. However, there are few widely accepted innovations surrounding Distance Learning. One reason for this is because of the often prohibitive cost of high-speed networking and equipment on both the sending and receiving end of the exchange. But what exactly is distance learning?

Kathleen Davey (1999), founding Dean for Instructional Technology at Florida Gulf Coast University, defines distance learning as “any formal educational process that occurs with the teacher and the student separated by either time or distance” (p. 44). Given that definition, distance learning is not a new phenomenon. Students who are given homework or take-home essays are clearly obtaining their knowledge through a means of distance learning. The evolution of the practice has included heavy use of the Internet and the World Wide Web for course delivery, communication, and document exchange.

However, many in academia have become familiar with the interpretation of distance learning provided by Dr. Jan Wilson (2002) of Jacksonville State University. She states that “distance learning is an educational approach that integrates technology, connectivity, curricular content, and human resources” in order to teach students out of the traditional classroom (p. 638). In that respect, distance learning is relatively new. That, then, would explain some of the reluctance of those in education to implement distance learning in their curricula.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Linden Dollars: The currency used for exchange of goods and services in Second Life.

Second Life: A 3D virtual environment created by Linden Lab where “residents” create “avatars” to represent themselves and where a majority of the content is user-created.

Machinima: Short films made from virtual characters in video games and virtual environments such as Second Life

Second Life Grid: The land masses that make up the largest “islands” in Second Life (see video at http://www.mappanovus.com/ for further explanation).

Wiki: A collaborative Web site where content can be edited by anyone who has access to it.

ESL: English as a second language.

Island (Second Life Context): Virtual space where residents of Second Life can either own parcels of virtual property or some sort of establishment on a parcel of land. These islands are in reality computers in a rack housed at various locations in San Francisco.

Avatar: A virtual representation of a person within Second Life. That representation can be human, animal, or nonhuman.

Resident: Real-life people who interact within Second Life and are referred to as “residents” of the environment.

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Norbert Pachler
Preface
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Acknowledgment
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Chapter 1
Pascual Pérez-Paredes, Maria Sánchez-Tornel
The research we report is a pilot study carried to test English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ reception of an electronic foreign language... Sample PDF
Understanding E-Skills in the FLT Context
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Chapter 2
Antônio Carlos Soares Martins, Junia de Carvalho Fidelis Braga
The discussions presented herein emerged from two empirical studies in progress:“Online Learning Communities in the Realm of Complexity” and “The... Sample PDF
The Emergence of Social Presence in Learning Communities
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Chapter 3
CALL as Action  (pages 39-52)
Vilson J. Leffa
The objective of this chapter is to offer a new approach for research in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). It starts with the assumption... Sample PDF
CALL as Action
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Chapter 4
Vera Lucia Menezes de Oliveira e Paiva, Adail Sebastiao Rodrigues-Junior
This pedagogical and methodological chapter aims at contributing to increasing Web teachers’ awareness of the different ways teachers and students... Sample PDF
Investigating Interaction in an EFL Online Environment
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Chapter 5
Euline Cutrim Schmid
This chapter discusses the concept of integrated CALL by drawing upon data collected for a PhD research project that investigated the impact of... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards and the Normalization of CALL
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Chapter 6
Alexandra Okada
This chapter presents new methodologies designed to facilitate language acquisition in open learning communities via open educational resources and... Sample PDF
OpenLearn and Knowledge Maps for Language Learning
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Chapter 7
Ria Hanewald
This chapter provides an overview of the field of digital objects and repositories. It introduces the concepts of digital objects and repositories... Sample PDF
Learning Objects: Projects, Potentials, and Pitfalls
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Chapter 8
Patrica Lupion Torres, Rita de Cassia Veiga Marriott, Andreia Ferreira Ramos
This chapter presents the experience of production and use of learning objects (LOs) for English-language learning at the Pontificia Universidade... Sample PDF
English-Language Teaching with Learning Objects at PUCPR
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Chapter 9
Zhuo Li, Feng Liu, Jeff Boyer
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the present use of e-gaming in language acquisition along with its potential and challenges. We review... Sample PDF
Amusing Minds for Joyful Learning through E-Gaming
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Chapter 10
Jowati Juhary
This chapter analyses the challenges in adapting a non-language learning courseware (NLLC) for a military learning environment. The National Defense... Sample PDF
A Non-Language Learning Courseware and its Challenges
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Chapter 11
Marcus Vinicius dos Santos, Isaac Woungang, Moses Nyongwa
The increasing importance of e-learning has been a boosting element for the emergence of Internet-based educational tools. As we move into the... Sample PDF
A Pliant-Based Software Tool for Courseware Development
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Chapter 12
Aysegül Daloglu, Meltem Baturay, Soner Yildirim
This chapter outlines how the constructivist approach can be implemented in Web-based vocabulary teaching, characteristics of effective Web-based... Sample PDF
Designing a Constructivist Vocabulary Learning Material
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Chapter 13
Yasunori Nishina
This chapter suggests an effective method for lexical studies using Moodle within the framework of data-driven learning based on parallel... Sample PDF
A Lexical Study Based on Corpora, DDL, and Moodle
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Chapter 14
Vander Viana, Sonia Zyngier
Like the advent of the telescope, computers today can provide ways of looking into language patterns that cannot be seen with the naked eye. From... Sample PDF
EFL through the Digital Glass of Corpus Linguistics
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Chapter 15
Jing Wang
This chapter introduces a series of studies carried out with intermediate learners of Chinese regarding the reading of authentic e-materials with... Sample PDF
Electronic Strategies to Improve Chinese Reading Skills
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Chapter 16
Margaret Murphy, Cristina Poyatos Matas
This chapter argues that politeness is an important component of e-mail language. Many people are uncertain about how to make their e-mail polite... Sample PDF
Politeness in Intercultural E-Mail Communication
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Chapter 17
Neny Isharyanti
Studies in computer-mediated communication (CMC) have shown that it has the potential to provide opportunities for ESL learners to actively... Sample PDF
Interactional Modifications in Internet Chatting
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Chapter 18
Sedat Akayoglu, Arif Altun
This chapter aims at describing the patterns of negotiation of meaning functions in text-based synchronous computer-mediated communication by using... Sample PDF
The Functions of Negotiation of Meaning in Text-Based CMC
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Chapter 19
Esrom Adriano Irala, Patrica Lupion Torres
This chapter belongs to the context of the computer-mediated communication (CMC) for language teaching and learning. Since the introduction of this... Sample PDF
The Use of the CMC Tool AMANDA in the Teaching of English
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Chapter 20
Christine Rosalia, Lorena Llosa
This chapter reports on an instrument that was developed to formatively assess the quality of feedback that second language students give to one... Sample PDF
Assessing the Quality of Online Peer Feedback in L2 Writing
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Chapter 21
Betty Rose Facer, M’hammed Abdous, Margaret M. Camarena
As part of an initiative to enhance the humanities’ use of emerging technologies, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Old... Sample PDF
The Impact of Academic Podcasting on Students' Learning Outcomes
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Chapter 22
Mahieddine Djoudi
The use of the mobile devices in language learning has been developed at a very high speed in the last years. Thus, we are witnessing many research... Sample PDF
Listening Comprehension of Languages with Mobile Devices
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Chapter 23
Huw Jarvis
This chapter reports on a quantitative study that examines how language students make use of an extensive range of computer-based materials (CBMs)... Sample PDF
Computers and Independent Study: Student Perspectives
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Chapter 24
Renata Chylinski, Ria Hanewald
This chapter reports on a study undertaken on the impact of pedagogical and technological innovations in language teaching and language learning... Sample PDF
Creating Supportive Environments for CALL Teacher Autonomy
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Chapter 25
Mar Gutiérrez-Colon Plana
Many language teachers, students, and institutions of virtual learning environments are well acquainted with the feelings of loneliness and... Sample PDF
Frustration in Virtual Learning Environments
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Chapter 26
Sarah Guth, Corrado Petrucco
This chapter describes how the social software tools that characterize Web 2.0, such as wikis and blogs, can be used as a valid substitute for more... Sample PDF
Social Software and Language Acquisition
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Chapter 27
Bryan Carter, Dayton Elseth
Within academia, distance learning as an approach to education has its share of skeptics. Regardless of how some feel about the methodology, it has... Sample PDF
The Usefulness of Second Life for Language Learning
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Chapter 28
Irene Mamakou
Interest in the integration of language learning with knowledge/content construction is growing around the world. In this line, an instructional... Sample PDF
Project-Based Instruction for ESP in Higher Education
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Chapter 29
Ma Camino Bueno Alastuey
The adaptation to the European Space of Higher Education and to the new demands of the labor market has produced a shift in university education... Sample PDF
WebCT Design and Users' Perceptions in English for Agriculture
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Chapter 30
Heli Simon, Päivö Laine, Ann Seppänen, Ana Barata, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho
This chapter presents the tutoring methodology adopted in an e-learning language course for students in vocational training and higher education as... Sample PDF
The LAFEC Experience for Language Skills Acquisition
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Chapter 31
Christian Swertz, Rosa Schultz, Katharina Toifl
This chapter reports the concept development and evaluation results from the project LANCELOT (LANguage learning with CErtified Live Online... Sample PDF
Language Teaching in Live Online Environments
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Chapter 32
Astrid Gesche
This chapter provides a basis for thinking about the dynamics and boundaries of foreign language learning in virtual learning communities of the... Sample PDF
Adapting to Virtual Third-Space Language Learning Futures
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Chapter 33
Chaka Chaka
This chapter explores aspects of portable handheld language learning that are likely to benefit many mobile assisted language learning (MALL)... Sample PDF
Portable Handheld Language Learning from CALL MALL to PALL
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About the Contributors