February 25, 2021

3D Virtual Worlds in ELT

Use of 3D virtual worlds in TEFL is a relatively new way of building language learning activities, as the technology and field are still somewhat questionable. With great advantages that the virtual 3D worlds bring, also come the disadvantages which both teachers and parents are most likely to want to avoid. Along with advantages and disadvantages related to the subject, educators online also tend to argue that are very few options that are feasible to educational contexts such as Minecraft, Dream City Idols or Second Life, however even these come with a great amount of risk for the teacher and learner.

One of the most outstanding advantages that the technology offers is the utter absence of limitations when it comes to creativity or expression, these are most common in the non-virtual environment, the real word, due to a lack of resources, funds, energy and even physical health, while in the virtual world, there is no heavy lifting, need for power or police. One can do whatever they would like to do, which brings us to the disadvantages.

The main one being that learners can be either accidentally or voluntarily exposed to virtual worlds and situations in them that both the parents and the teachers are trying to keep them away from, due to age, religion or any other factors.

However 3D worlds are still worth the try, in my opinion, growing up that’s what I wished my teacher would do.

A sample way to do this could be splitting the adult EFL learners into groups and sending them to a Minecraft builder to build a virtual world that best represents an essay they are about to write or a reading that they’ve done. The objective for these is that it allows the students create a bond between what they learn in class and the way it is applicable to the real world and real situations. In the virtual worlds they could create a set best describing their understanding of a recent play that they’ve read, which you plan to discuss later, this would be for higher levels of proficiency, of course.