Virtual Worlds and Avatars for the development of Primary Foreign Languages and Primary Foreign Languages for the Development of Real Children
Yongho Kim (Korea National University of Education, Republic of Korea)
Copyright © 2012.
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The case study is a chronicle of Korean elementary students’ efforts to gain autonomous control of a foreign language, English, from the top down, that is, through use of English in communication (as opposed to mere exposure to English through study or through the passive absorption of comprehensible input). This communicative use of English is realized through materials pertinent to their overall development and not just to their language development. The materials include a surrogate self or avatar within a virtual learning environment which can, in principle, though not in this study, connect them with children all over the world. The question for this study is how the use of an avatar in a virtual learning environment brings about not only the learning of vocabulary and grammar (similar to the piecemeal learning that happens in any classroom) but also interacts with and even activates the child’s overall psychological development the way that play awakens developmental functions on the playground.