FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION IN VIRTUAL WORLDS: A REVIEW OF PERVASIVE STUDIES

T. Kamali, T. Tokel

Middle East Technical University (TURKEY)
In this globalizing world, helping people to learn other languages effectively has a major role for their lives, careers, and world views. With the advances in technology, new opportunities occurred for enhancing and facilitating language learning. Earle (2002) stated that technologies enable education field to gain a new dimension which is moving from presenting information to problem solving activities by including new instructional experiences. This new dimension also increases students’ interaction with the target subject. Technology usage in language education has a long history with different forms. Educators’ interest towards using technology for facilitating language learning -especially the ones that realize the importance of computer usage in language education- increased. Especially in recent years, there is a common interest among researchers in using virtual worlds in computer assisted language learning and those studies revealed important results for the language education field.
This study is inspired by the need to understand the contribution of virtual worlds in language education. For that purpose, this paper presents a review of foreign language education in 3D virtual worlds especially how they have affected foreign language teaching and learning at various points. First and foremost, this review study presents a brief information about the technological advents in language education field, than makes an introduction to computer assisted language learning (CALL) and finally introduces virtual worlds. This part is followed by the review of the most pervasive and significant language projects conducted in 3D virtual worlds and presents the results of those studies.