Institute for Educational Technology, National Research Council of Italy (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN19 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 5096-5100
ISBN: 978-84-09-12031-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2019.1261
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
Immigration is an ever-increasing phenomenon in the European Union (EU) countries: reports state that immigration to the EU from non-member countries was 2.4 million in 2017. While international migration can be beneficial in destination countries (e.g. as a tool to solve labour market shortages), social inclusion of the immigrants into the fabric of society is a problem, mainly caused by the lack of knowledge of the destination countries’ language.

In this paper, we will introduce VIRGIL2 (VIRtual Guide for Immigrants in L2), a Serious Game (SG) developed in the context of the Digital Innovation for Social Inclusion (DISI) Erasmus+ project to support and enhance the teaching of a second language to immigrants, implementing the situated learning approach through a specific theoretical framework: The Social Practice Theory (SPT). VIRGIL2 aims to be a tool both for the teachers, by easing the use and implementation of situated learning, and for the students, by providing useful and user-friendly access to educational contents.

Within the context of situated learning, we have designed VIRGIL2 in such a way that the student can learn a new language while re-enacting a real-life scenario, thus learning the associated social skills together with the new language. We believe that it is important not to see the process of learning a new language as an isolated cognitive process, but rather as a process within other relational and social processes. Moreover, considering that the target students are immigrants, learning the social practices involved in daily activities proves to be extremely beneficial in terms of social inclusion as well. For these reasons, the scenario of VIRGIL2 in which we ground the learning experience is a supermarket shopping. In this scenario, among the several social routines and skills involved in this context, we focused on: asking information, spatial orientation, products identification, turn-taking and the payment process. Players can navigate the 3D space of a virtual reproduction of a supermarket, interacting with various Non-Player Characters (NPCs), shelves and objects in order to complete given tasks. Since language is influenced by paralinguistic resources, we make use of visual and auditory resources (e.g. billboards to identify the isles, recordings of the pronunciation of certain words) to support and enhance the learning process and the building of the semantic field of this specific scenario. The game experience is also enhanced by a Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platform, in which a number of 2D interactive mini-games are used to test, verify and consolidate the new knowledge the player has gained.
Serious Games, L2, Situated Learning.