We are in week 3 of our Teaching Languages in a Virtual World seesion, which is all about real life places in Second Life and how these can be exploited for learning or practising languages or teaching them.
We started out in what I call Virtual “Makkah”, which has a replica of Masjid Al-Haram including the Ka’bah, the most sacred place on earth for Muslims. I explained the objectives for this place in SL, which in short are:
Hajj training for Muslims (non-Muslims always welcome to participate)
Providing information for Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam
Interfaith and inter-cultural events (e.g. the Ramadan events, discussions, lectures)
Lessons (English, Arabic,…)
Meeting place for Muslims and non-Muslims
Here is the recording of the tour:
This is one of the educational places in SL, which really uses the strength of a 3D virtual world. The alternatives would be to learn the hajj rituals by reading a book with text and illustrations or by attending a presentation with a speaker showing slides. Here, those who want to learn about the hajj and how and when to do certain rituals, they have to actually do it, which is for most people much more memorable than simply reading or hearing or even watching a video about it.
This is one of the mostbeautiful places I have come across in Second Life, a replica of the 13th century Alhambra in Spain. It has also a very vibrant intercultural, interfaith community. They are trying to bring back to life how it was when Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together in relative harmony. There is a church, a mosque and a synagogue, a market, and residential areas that can be rented. They also participate in intercultural or interfaith dialogues and organize events, some of which are educational (e.g. lectures) and some more entertaining (e.g. competition and games). It’s a great place if one wants to be part of a community.
Now, how can these places be used for language learning or teaching?
Learners, who want to practise their language skills and are interested in religion, history, intercultural events, etc. can join the communities, both of which are very active. The main language is English, but there are many Arabic and French speakers, too.
In a language course, students can prepare a tour for their peers and teacher. These can be short tours or longer ones prepared by a group of students. It can be extended to a project, where they have to collect information from different sources, interview people, compare the places to RL, etc. and then give a “presentation”, which in this case would be a tour of the place.
Different groups of learners from different countries and cultures can be brought together to show each other places related to their culture or country and discuss differences and similarities to foster understanding and practise language skills at the same time.
Over to you: Do you have more ideas? Have you used real life places in SL for teaching or practising a language? Would you like to describe how you used it or would use it? Would you use it in a face-to-face class or only with distance learners? Why so?
As part of the “Teaching Languages in a Virtual World” session, I gave a demo lesson using a kitchen fire simulations (this is a Swiss project and you can reed more about in English here und auf deutsch hier).
The following is a report on of this event including
– an outline of the lesson
– necessary preparations for the teacher
– video recordings of the discussion stage in the lesson
– video recordings of the discussion afterwards including teachers and language learners.
This is a type of lessons that even teachers who are very new to Second Life and have little or no own resources can do.
– fire pits, logs to sit on, fire extinguisher (this is all optional)
– notecard with instructions (placed in firepit(s))
– story and questions for pre-task
1. Pre-task – 20 – 30 min
Invite everybody to sit around the fire.
Lead into the lesson by telling a person story:
I like sitting around an open fire and chatting with friends…
But, sometimes things can get out of control. As a kid I was told not to play with fire. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen and one day, when I was alone, I decided to cook something. But then I got caught up in play and forgot about the food on the stove. There was lots of smoke billowing out of the open window and the neighbours called the fire brigade. Fortunately, they weren’t angry with me but happy that I was all right.
Then ask some of the following questions and encourage students to speak:
Have you ever experienced a fire? Would you like to tell us very briefly?
Have you ever had to extinguish fire? How did you do it? If you saw a fire, what would you do? How would you react? Would you try to extinguish it yourself or call the fire department?
Do you know of any dos and don’ts when trying to put off a fire?
2. Field trip to the simulation – 20 – 30 min
-> Click the firepit to get the notecard with instructions
-> Go through instructions, clarify questions.
Fieldtrip to a Kitchen Fire Simulation
Second Life is an immersive environment and is therefore, often used for simulations that would be too expensive, too dangerous or plain impossible in the physical world (also often called Real Life).
Today, you are going to visit and experience a simulation of a kitchen fire. You will be placed in a situation where a kitchen fire starts and will have to decide how to react. The simulation will show you what the result of your reaction would be and whether it was a good decision or not.
Once you arrive at the location, accept the notecard with instructions that you will be offered in the blue pop-up menu.
Do the simulation together with your partner or your group and decide together how to react. You can do it a 2nd or 3rd time to try out different options.
—-> Make sure you have all the ambient sounds turned up for the best experience (see snapshot)
Think about the following questions while there and take some notes for yourself after the simulation has finished:
1. How did you feel when you first saw the fire start? What was your first reaction?
2. Are you happy with the way you reacted, or do you think you should have done something differently? What?
3. Do you think that such a simulation in Second Life can be effective in training people for real life emergencies?
4. Did you learn anything about kitchen fires or how to react correctly in such a situation that you didn’t know before? What?
(Note that this is quite a realistic simulation that could be rather stressful for someone, especially if they have already experienced a fire. If it makes you feel uneasy, remember that you are in control and can leave the simulation at any time or teleport away).
Once back from the simulation, you will report about your experience with the simulations to your class members using your notes above to help you.
If it is a large group, one group goes first. Those outside can hear what is being said and can use their camera controls to observe what is happening inside. They are asked to take notes to give language feedback later.
Do the activity again with reversed roles.
3. Discussion + language work – 30 -45 min
Say: Before we speak about our experience, we’ll do a quick vocabulary exercise.
You have heard and read many words and expressions related to fire. For the the next task you have 1 minute. I’d like you ALL to type into text chat as many words and expressions as you can related to fire. Start now!
Words that were listed in the demo lesson:
JunCar Static: fire extinguisher
– burn, escape, help, put out a fire, call
– fire department
Werka Ferina: fire brigade
Jim Gustafson: extinguisher
Rhonwen Beresford: brilliant intense incandescent
San Krokus: extinguisher
San Krokus: put out
Jim Gustafson: blanket
San Krokus: firefighters
Werka Ferina: fire extinguisher
Heather8 Devin: fire blanket
Jim Gustafson: fire alarm
Alexandra Ergenthal: alarm, rescue, extinguish, blanket, oil/ grease fire
San Krokus: water
Jim Gustafson: smoke detector
Anza Rosenblum: fire brigade
Anza Rosenblum: put out
Misha Writer: danger, heat, burn
amal Cliassi: fryer
San Krokus: emergency
JunCar Static: burn
Alexandra Ergenthal: escape, fire brigade,roll on the floor
Heimlaga Svenska: smoke
Anza Rosenblum: explosion
JunCar Static: fire extinguisher
Heimlaga Svenska: heat
Jim Gustafson: heat
Alexandra Ergenthal: oven, electrical, water
nahiram Vaniva: arsonist?
Werka Ferina: fear
Astra Martian: hot oil
amal Cliassi: flame
Astra Martian: burning
Astra Martian: blanket
Heimlaga Svenska: alarm sounds
Alexandra Ergenthal: fire hose
Clarify meaning, pronunciation and use of some of the words.
Depending on time and students’ needs work with these words some more or leave this to the language focus stage.
Divide the students into pairs or small groups for the discussion.
They discuss the questions on the notecard (see above).
Teacher monitors and takes notes.
(If possible record these conversations. I will right in a separate post how and also how they can be used for feedback and language work).
Ask everyone to come back together. Some students report about their discussions if times allows for it.
4. Feedback and language focus stage
Peer feedback, teacher feedback, language work according to student’s needs which emerged (We skipped this in the demo lesson).
Extended tasks (after the sessions)
(I usually give the option of doing this in writing or orally)
– report about their experience
– report about a real experience with fire
– answer one of the questions above in more detail
– create a presentation or video about a topic related to fire and safety
– do a role-play and maybe record it (as a machinima)
– write a safety leaflet
Discussion with teachers and learners about the lesson
How did they like it? Ideas for improvements. How they experienced it as a learner. Difficulties…
Your feedback on the lesson and what you heard in the recorded discussion is very welcome.
The EVO (Electronic Village Online) sessions are free 6-week online teacher development sessions for language teachers. This year’s sessions have started on 11 January. This means we are already at the end of week 1! However, it is not too late to join. This year, there are twelve sessions that you can choose from.
I am moderating the “Teaching Languages in a Virtual World” session with my colleagues Mary, Nahir, Dennis, Graham and Wlodek. We have already 322 participants now from all over the world, from total beginners to very experienced. You can read more about our session here.
This year, we have set up a mentor system. That means, that participants with experience in the use of SL who have volunteered to help can set up events in addition to what the moderators are offering to help new users. This way we can offer many more sessions catering for different time zones. For the advanced users it is an opportunity to practise training newbies if they have had no experience with this yet. It also means that they don’t have to wait until the sessions become relevant for them but can be active from the start, and it helps us moderators to accept and manage this large number of participants. This is also a great opportunity for both newbies and experienced users to get to know each other from the start. So far, feedback has been very positive.
If you want to participate, request to join our TLVW Ning.