Virtual reality (VR) has gained significant attention in language education due to its ability to create immersive L2 learning environments; however, their pedagogical grounding is yet to be explored (e.g., Parmaxi, 2023). Specifically, more research is needed to assess the alignment between these VR-based environments and contemporary L2 learning theories. To address this gap, we examine two popular high-immersion VR language learning applications, Immerse and ImmerseMe. To achieve this goal, we employ a descriptive, judgmental, phenomenological, non-empirical evaluation of the two applications. We developed a rubric to evaluate how closely each application adheres to five key principles of L2 pedagogy: (1) focus on meaning, (2) comprehensible input, (3) focus on form, (4) interaction, and (5) motivation (Li, 2017). The rubric encompasses specific criteria for each principle to ensure comprehensive evaluation. Using a Meta Quest 2 VR headset, we observed, participated in, and compared two Spanish lessons provided by Immerse vs. two Spanish lessons provided by ImmerseMe. After observing the lessons and applying the rubric, we evaluated the five principles on a scale of 0 (not present) to 4 (present fully) for each lesson and compared the averages between the applications with regards to each pedagogical principle. As our findings suggest, Immerse demonstrates a stronger alignment with the L2 pedagogical principles, especially in terms of focus on form and negotiation of meaning. On the other hand, ImmerseMe has certain pedagogical advantages related to learner autonomy, motivation, and classroom use. Based on these findings, we conclude that although Immerse has more pedagogical potential than ImmerseMe, both applications can be useful for independent L2 learning, depending on the context. Pedagogical recommendations derived from this study will be provided to the audience, along with handouts describing the applications, rubric used for evaluation, and our findings.
The study evaluates the alignment between two VR language learning applications, Immerse and ImmerseMe, and key principles of L2 pedagogy. Findings suggest that Immerse has stronger alignment with the L2 pedagogy principles of focus on form and negotiation of meaning while ImmerseMe offers unique advantages in learner autonomy, motivation, and classroom use.
Roman Lesnov, Oakwood University, United States
Sofia Wolhein Nava, Oakwood University, United States