Language Learning in Virtual Worlds: The Role of FLA and ...

Language Learning in Virtual Worlds: The Role of FLA and ...

Language Learning in Virtual Worlds: The Role of FLA and Technical Anxiety Scott Grant Sarah Pasfield-Neofitou Hui Huang Aim To examine whether or not learners feel less foreign language anxiety (FLA) in an

online multiuser 3D virtual world simulation than in the real world classroom. Background Classroom language-learning can be stressful (E. Horwitz, M. Horwitz, & J. Cope, 1986; Tth, 2008) = foreign language anxiety (FLA) Detrimental effect on learners (Elkhafaifi, 2005). Particularly common in 'role play/output situations (E. Horwitz, et al., 1986;Hauck & Hurd, 2005)

Background Virtual worlds have often been portrayed as "non-threatening" (Broadribb & Carter, 2009; Cuoto, 2010; Levy & Stockwell, 2006) Anonymity, emotional distance & enactment of the "possible self" (Schultz & Leahy, 2009) may lower anxiety (Broadribb & Carter, 2009) However, computer anxiety is also associated with computer-mediated communication (CMC) (Brown et al. 2004, Matsumura & Hann 2004) The Project Seed

funding obtained from LCNAU Collaboration STAGE 1: 55 students of Chinese at Monash University Pre- & Post-lesson online surveys STAGE between 3 universities:

2: Project will be extended to students of Chinese & Spanish at partner universities. The Lesson Introductory Chinese at Monash University 3x 1.5 hr lessons in Second Life (SL) simulation Task-based learning related to textbook themes. Current study is based on a lesson which

took place in a restaurant & farmers market. Students converse with non-player characters (NPCs) in Chinese via text-chat. The Method Pre-survey: 12 question on demographics 16 questions on computer/chat use (Based on Brown et al. 2004) 24 questions on feelings related to learning

Chinese in general, & the classroom specifically. (Based on Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) Horwitz et. Al 1986) Post-survey: 27 questions on use of Chinese in the virtual environment 10 questions on use of technology in the form of the SL virtual environment, Both surveys employed a 5-point Likert scale

Preliminary Findings Preliminary Findings Computer & text-based chat anxiety

Low levels of inherent computer anxiety (79-88% of students disagreed with statements relating to computer anxiety) However, only 55% indicated that they liked conversing in text-based chat It appears most students do not experience anxiety associated with chat, although it may not be their preferred mode of communication. For those who do experience computer/chat related anxiety, the 2-tailed Pearson Correlation analysis found a significant correlation (all p.<.05) with gender, the amount of time a student spent on the computer, and the frequency with which they play interactive games. Overall, males were more comfortable with chat and those who spent more time on the

computer/playing games were less likely to be anxious. FLA in the classroom Older students were less worried about making mistakes. Those with no previous language learning experience were more anxious about being laughed at by other students, but somewhat counter-intuitively, were more willing to speak

FLA in the virtual environment Levels of FLA lower in virtual environment Factors that correlated with FLA in the virtual environment were similar to f2f. Technical anxiety in the virtual environment

Anxiety related to UI, keyboard & mouse low. Mixed results relating to user-friendliness of SL, and navigation of virtual city. High levels of feelings of safety and comfort in relation to exploring the virtual city & using avatar. Factors that correlated with technical anxiety were fairly sparse, but students with previous language learning experience found many things in the virtual environment that helped them understand what was being said by the NPCs, other students and the teachers.

Conclusion & Future Directions Multiple sources of FLA in class and virtual environments. However, virtual environments appear less stressful for FL use. Qualitative analysis of open-ended questions now underway, and Stage 2 of the project will add valuable data from the perspective of a different language, and different classroom conditions. Contact Details

Mr Scott Grant Dr Sarah Passfield-Neofitou [email protected] [email protected] Dr Hui Huang

[email protected]

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