Five years in Second Life
or: Phonetically Augmented Virtuality in Second Life English as a Foreign Language
In this book I narrate some of my personal and professional experience of Second Life (SL),one of the few hundred Virtual Worlds now in existence. I mostly talk about my teaching of English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) pronunciation in an educational community calledVirtlantis. This pro-bono community service lasted four (school) years, from September 2008to June 2012. I conducted 163 weekly meetings of
Pronunciation with Wlodek Barbosa
, withstudents from all over the (physical) world. In the book I report in detail on these meetings, aswell as append thirty actual activity notecards used during the lessons. In those activities Iused Phonetically Augmented Virtual objects (PAVed objects), i.e. interactive objectsconstructed in SL which contain some phonetic content in them, such as sound files, phonetictranscription, test questions about pronouncing problems, etc.My main argument in the book is that such PAVed objects, modeled on Augmented Realityfound in the physical world, could provide some genuine added value in SL(language) teaching and learning. Learning with such objects could leveragesituational/embodied teaching methods and techniques, which have been found to beespecially effective in SL. It could help reify some abstract linguistic concepts, such as stress,syllable or juncture, into virtual ‘tangibles’ of especial appeal to kinesthetic and visuallyminded learners. Theoretically, this augmentation could be extended to all objects created inSL, so that the entire world would function as a linguistically augmented Multi-User VirtualLearning Environment (MUVLE). This kind of augmentation appears to add educational valueto SL over and above what is possible in face-to-face classroom language teaching/learning inthe physical world on the one hand, and on online e-learning platforms, such as Blackboard orMoodle, on the other.Other issues discussed somewhat less in-depth in my book include: SL educationalaffordances (especially learner immersion/presence), the key SL skills necessary for languageteachers, EFL teaching and learning in SL (with particular emphasis on pronunciation) and myown life story in SL. The thirty lesson scripts available in the Appendix are of direct use toEFL pronunciation teachers and learners, whether in a virtual or physical world. Interestedreaders may go into SL for their own copies of my games and activities with PAVed objects.The book is illustrated with fifty snapshots taken in SL and showing various aspects of my lifeand work there: from private life, through PAVed teaching, to teachers’ workshops andlanguage education conferences. The principal message of the whole text is: Second Life is awonderful virtual environment for foreign language teachers and students. With or withoutlinguistic augmentation, it offers many unique educational affordances for fully immersed,situated, exploratory and collaborative learning.