Technology-enhanced language learning: A case study of a global classroom in Second Life.
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This study reports on a case study about conversation practice in Second Life, a three-dimensional (3D) virtual environment, between 12 English language learners and 18 special education teachers. The purpose of the study was to examine participants' perceptions of the usability of virtual worlds as a language learning platform and to identify the unique skills required for successful teaching in a 3D environment. Specifically, the anxiety-reducing features of the virtual, anonymous environment in which oral language skills can be practiced through avatars were investigated. Extensive challenges inherent to the lesson design and audio quality were identified in this study. Guidelines on how to address these challenges as well as ideas for alternative, more effective learning designs, such as the discussion group format, are outlined. The study resulted in nine suggestions for virtual conversation practice in 3D environments. These findings will be relevant to other language instructors who plan to use Second Life or a similar virtual world for oral fluency enhancement in collaborative language practice.