Most experts agree that the best way to learn a language is by immersing yourself in it. Now, with more sophisticated technology, another theory around language learning is being tested: the use of avatars to practice speaking.
Alongside traditional methods, like listening, repeating, and digital flashcards, created by companies like Rosetta Stone, Livemocha, and AccelaStudy, a few tech companies have leveraged the idea that becoming someone else helps to learn a foreign language, especially when speaking it.
Companies like Second Life and Middlebury Interactive Languages both offer digital avatar programs to give language learners a chance to practice their skills in virtual environments. Britain’s Language Lab has created “English City” using Second Life, where learners are promised realistic conversations with native English-speaking teachers, also using avatars, in virtual but plausible digital environments, like checking in at the airport, going to an art museum, or giving a presentation.
Few studies exist on the effectiveness of avatars for language learning, and just as recently as 2009, a study conducted by Griffith University on digital technology and second language learning found that “although significant advances have been made recently with chatbots [avatars] for Continue reading