Augmented and Virtual Reality in the Language Classroom: Practical Ideas

Bonner, E., Reinders, M. Augmented and Virtual Reality in the Language Classroom: Practical Ideas. Teaching English with Technology. (2018), 18,3 :33-53

This article provides a useful and accessible overview of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) and the potential for these technologies to support and enhance language teaching and learning.  Many of us, perhaps without knowing it, are already using augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR), in applications such as Google Translate, filters in Snapchat and Instagram, and in virtual tours of museums and art galleries such as The British Museum and The Louvre.

The article serves as an introduction to technology that isn’t in widespread use in language learning. It includes some interesting examples from foreign language courses that have tried out some AR/VR techniques and tools. For example, the descriptions of the affordances of the tools used in one of the activities to help improve presentation skills gives insight into what is possible. In each of the examples the authors provide step by step guides on how to set up and use these learning activities with students. The article also provides guidance around specific privacy and security issues that may arise with AR/VR as well as financial ones.

Although language educators are in the early stages of the use of these technologies for language learning, and challenges particularly related to general availability in the realm of language teaching remain, they have significant and exciting potential to enhance student engagement, extend learning, and to bridge the gap between formal and informal language learning.

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Lotze, N. Goodbye to classroom teaching? Artificial Intelligence in Language Learning. (2018). Magazin Sprache. May.

This article offers a critical response to claims that are made about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can profoundly alter the ways in which languages can be taught and learned, i.e.,  without the necessity for classroom teaching and learning.

The author makes a succinct and quite compelling argument that such technological innovation actually provides quite a limited range of potential for language learning. For example digital exercises, although they may appear innovative, are actually replications of what can be found in traditional exercise books, the usefulness of learning language apps with a chatbot, (Duolingo for example) is limited, in that such systems depend on simple, defined interactions and predictable dialogues.

The author concludes that learning language systems based on AI are useful when it may be difficult or impossible for students to attend language classes, and are best suited for beginning language learners to supplement classroom learning with a human teacher.

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