Friday, 19 September 2008

My Adventures In Second Life: Trying Out Sound And Missing Out On Appearing On Uruguayan TV

I mentioned before that I had joined the slexperiment wiki to try to gain more understanding about how Second Life can be used for teaching and learning languages.

The group is lead by Nergiz Kern, an EFL teacher based in Turkey and meets on Education Island every Friday at 6 GMT . It aims to show tools and share ideas to be used for language teaching in Second Life.

I found the couples of meetings I have attended very interesting and informative although my personal contribution to the group was minimal. Through just listening and watching what can be done, I really feel I am slowly developing a real understanding of the potential of Second Life as a platform for language teaching.

Of course, I need to do more studying to develop my own SL skills.

As ever with technology, if I know what can be done, at least it gives me an idea of what to aim for! I can choose, discard and sometimes even improve the use of a tool and that process of discovering “What can be done” is really empowering as it means I truly own my integrated ICT practice. I also make it work for my aims rather than it being an end in itself, which is always a danger.

Nergiz emailed yesterday about an experiment to be carried by a journalist from the Uruguayan TV who was planning to join the meeting, introduced by Alicia Barbitta or Wonderalica Alturas.
There was a problem and the journalist did not turn up tonight, but the event is due to be re-scheduled for Tuesday.

I also mentioned before that my first attempt at using sound in Second Life was far from successful. So when the group dwindled a bit, I thought I would try sound again. I found it a very positive experience and I can see why the use o f sound in Second Life would greatly enhance language learners’ confidence.

Learning a language is a risky business, people do not always acknowledge that fact. You put a lot at risk: yourself image, physical and social as well as your sense of cultural identity. All these things you sometimes did not know you had-particularly if you come from a mono-cultural and monolingual background…

All this definitely takes you out of your comfort zone and can feel threatening unless you see the benefits fairly quickly. If you use role-play or drama, it is not as threatening. You are still yourself and the other “you” can make mistakes-it is only a game. The drama cover is then a very real protection and it can make the learner more willing to take risks using the language.

I am now planning to have a look at the SL Teen Grid to see how this translates in a school context… Any pointers welcome!

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