MA TESOL and Applied Linguistics Students Explore Second Life as a Potential Environment for EFL Teaching

Gabi Witthaus and Ming Nie

This paper reports on an experiment being conducted in the University of Leicester’s online MA in TESOL and Applied Linguistics programme, in which volunteer students are participating in a series of visits to Second Life (SL). The primary aim is for students to experience the use of a virtual world for language teaching, and to draw conclusions about the value that such an environment might add for EFL teaching in their own contexts. A further aim is to address the students’ expressed desire for more interaction with their peers, and for greater variety in teaching approaches on the programme. Eighteen volunteers, located in almost as many countries, and spanning all modules on the MA, were recruited. The experiment is being carried out over a six-week period, and involves a series of structured “e-tivities” following Salmon’s (2002) five-stage model. Participants have introduced themselves on the Blackboard discussion forum and discussed their motivation for volunteering. They have also participated in inworld training sessions to learn basic technical and communication skills. Next, they will observe classes at an EFL school in SL. The observations will be followed by discussions both in Blackboard and inworld, in which students exchange views on the experience. Throughout the process, participants will be given technical support. Finally, students will be asked for their views on the use of SL as an EFL teaching environment. Findings will be reported in the presentation. This experiment is being conducted as part of the JISC-sponsored DUCKLING (Delivering University Curricula: Knowledge INnovation Gains) project at Leicester. In addition to the findings about enhancing curriculum delivery, the project will generate a range of SL training materials and guidelines to be published as open educational resources under the auspices of the JISC- and HEA-funded OTTER (Open, Transferable, Technically Enabled Educational Resources) project at Leicester. Bibliography Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to On-Line Learning. London and New York: Routledge.

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This video is related to: e-Learning symposium 2010