Second-language learning (L2) in adulthood can pose significant challenges to learners (Legault et al., 2019). Though evidence has shown that those learning a second language whilst studying abroad have improved proficiency, it is not always possible for students to undertake study or work semesters abroad. Because of this, more attention is now focusing on the affordances of virtual reality (VR) environments as a means of supporting second language acquisition (Jeong et al., 2010; Berns et al., 2013).
The aim of this initiative is to design a VR environment and in particular a downloadable programme for L2 learning (for Quest2 headsets principally) that will enable learners to be more immersed in the language as they learn. In language learning, context plays a significant role and VR environments will empower users to interact with the L2 environment seamlessly as they would in real-life situations (Costello, 1997; Jerald, 2016). Such an environment will also offer a more active, participatory role to the learner and will support them to take a more autonomous role in language learning (Schwienhorst, 2002). There is also significant evidence to suggest that such an environment promotes more student engagement (Ibáñez et al., 2011; Levak and Son, 2017), thereby enhancing the learner experience. From a language teacher’s perspective, it will provide a flexible platform in which to design appropriate language learning experiences to facilitate L2 acquisition.
The initial focus will be on Y1 German as the L2 but this can be expanded to all languages and levels as appropriate.