Monday, September 10, 2007

Is there a demand for studying English in Second Life?

In Japan, 30% of those surveyed by Goo Research’s online monitor group would like to. Or at least that's what was said in April this year (I've only just seen this now) - I wonder, if you asked the same people now, would the answer be any different? How many of those people have tried to study English in Second Life? And, Perhaps the answer would have been different if they had used a different verb instead of study - learn or practise, for example.

It's amazing what you find by chance...

I came across the What Japan Thinks survey ("Are you interested in studying English in Second Life?") while trying to find out the source of an extremely annoying error message* that keeps nagging my avatar (see below). Needless to say, I got sidetracked and now find myself blogging about the survey instead of finding the solution to my Second Life problem.

Learning a language in Second Life

This topic was discussed extensively at the 2007 Second Life Languages Seminar, and I recommend anyone interested in the subject to listen to the recordings, which are still available at Edunation (where the seminar was held)

From what I gathered, I think most people agreed the idea of supplementing (i.e. using it for blended learning) is the most probable use of Second Life.

The British Council Second Life project (which I'm involved in), for example, will be using this virtual world as a way of having contact with people the organisation does not normally reach (as well as exisiting customers) , and offering extra resources, events, etc. for learners to supplement face-to-face classes. You can read more about this at my avatar's blog (not much there at the moment, but I'll be posting more frequently from now on).

The Second-Life-only company , however, will be offering courses there (they are still in beta at the moment) , and they have started offering a variety of 'formal, informal and social' ways of learning English. I had the opportunity to take a tour of the islands this summer and was most impressed with the amount of thought and work that has gone into the company and methodology. They also have some very bright minds working on the project, which should show favourable results.

There are also other people that have been using Second Life for teaching language classes, and have gone through some interesting changes in the way their facilities are being used as a result. The English Village is the one that springs to mind, who have changed the way they conduct classes, from imitating sit-down-real-life classes through holodecks and (the latest I've seen) pirate role-playing games.

One thing is certain - I'm certain that we're going to see and hear a lot more about language learning in Second Life over the next year or so.

* The annoying message is one that informs me "Online Monitor: Time's Up, Baldric Commons - you need a break from the computer..." when I've been in Second Life for over 30 minutes. I can't seem to find what device is causing this message to be displayed - if anyone can help, please let me know and I'll buy you a virtual beer...


  1. Anonymous6:55 am

    Interesting summary. It is a daunting foray into second life....downloading software and all. I am going to investigate promoting my ESL school on there thanks to your comments!

  2. Thanks Lesley, it is a fascinating place, but daunting as you say - not so much for the software download or computer requirements really. Moreso for the amount of time you need to spend toget accusomed to the word(it's been estimated by one commentator at a minimum of 30 hours to become familiar with how it works, and I agree with him).

    Still, I do think it is worthwhile, and that you will find an interesting place to promote your ESL school - I recommend renting a place where there already is a community of educators (eg. Edunation or the English Village) - this will save you a lot of time and help you make contacts, which is the key to success in this 3D virtual social network (for that's what it is essentially)