You walk into a coffee shop and your senses come alive!
You see fresh hot coffee dripping through the brewer. You smell the delicious aromas wafting to your nose. You hear the buzz of conversation and the inviting atmosphere relaxes your body as you step inside.
But what’s different about this coffee shop?
It simply doesn’t exist.
This amazing café has been created in virtual reality. Although you feel as if you’re there—chatting with others, picking up coffee cups and watching the world go by—you may actually just be sitting on your couch at home.
This is what virtual reality can do for us. It can take us to unreachable places and let us engage in real and imaginary worlds to learn with all our senses.
Walking on the moon? Hanging out with celebrities? Exploring the depths of the world’s oceans? Virtual reality can make impossible things possible.
Just imagine what this could do for our English learning!
We’ll show you how virtual reality can open a whole new world for language learners, plus four incredible virtual reality tools every English student should know about.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality (VR) is technology that immerses you in a simulated world. It’s a term for all types of media that digitally place you in a real location, imaginary scenario or a situation that uses a mixture of both.
A main characteristic of virtual reality learning is that it’s interactive. This means you can alter what happens in your virtual world by moving, changing and engaging with these simulated environments.
Augmented reality and mixed reality are two different types of virtual reality experiences.
When exploring augmented reality, you can see imaginary things that simply overlay content from the real world. (Like Ikea’s app that lets you see what different furniture would look like in your home.)
Mixed reality combines the real and the unreal, and lets you alter both. This means the actions you take in mixed reality world influence both your real and fake surroundings. (For example, board games that have virtual boards, cards or other playing elements.)
How Can Virtual Reality Improve Your English?
Get immersed in English without traveling:
Let’s say you’re learning American English and wish to practice your American accent. Instead of spending lots of time and energy finding Americans to speak with or locating specific videos, blogs or audiobooks that teach American accents, why not just go to America?
Virtual reality makes this possible without a plane ticket. You’re able to virtually visit the U.S. if you wish! You can be a part of situations where the American accent is all around you.
As noted earlier, virtual reality immerses you in various situations. That means immersion language learning—one of the fastest and most effective ways to learn a language—is suddenly much more accessible to English language learners all over the world. You can explore and interact with others entirely in English, all from your living room. It’ll improve your English quickly and make your language lessons a lot more interesting!
If you enjoy this type of immersive language learning, you can get many of the same benefits through fun videos with FluentU.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Perfect your nonverbal communication:
There’s more to learning English than just words. Body language and facial expressions are types of nonverbal communication that every English speaker uses to help them communicate successfully.
Nonverbal communication is a visual way of expressing yourself. Therefore, you need to be able to see someone when interacting with them. This used to be possible only face-to-face with an English speaker. But now, virtual reality lets you see and interact with other people anytime you go online. You can practice your nonverbal communication in a real-world scenario. You don’t even have to wait for a real person to approach you to practice!
Practice without intimidation:
What makes us nervous in any situation? It’s the feeling of doing something we’ve never done before. From driving a car, to speaking in front of large crowds, to meeting someone new—if you do it all the time, everyday, you can build your confidence so it doesn’t make you nervous anymore.
Putting yourself out there to speak English with others can be scary when you’re learning! Virtual reality helps you overcome this fear by simulating such real-world experiences. You can practice in a safe and supportive environment that feels like the real thing.
Then, when it comes time to go out and use your English in the real world, you’ll be confident enough to apply your skills successfully.
Learn with convenience and comfort:
Virtual reality is easy. It gives you authentic English practice at the click of a button. You can travel the globe and explore digital worlds, all from the comfort of your own home.
Learning in a familiar environment allows you to relax, which in turn has a positive impact on how much you can learn and apply your skills. You can practice new skills and meet interesting people all while sitting on the couch. Talk about learning in comfort!
4 Virtual Reality Tools to Instantly Explore a World of English Learning
Ready to dive into the world of virtual reality? Explore these resources and enjoy learning English like never before.
Looking to improve your English and maximize your career? VirtualSpeech is the resource for you. This program’s VR courses focus on business English and help you build confidence to get that competitive edge in the workplace.
Practice your job interview skills, conversations with English-speaking clients or workplace meetings in a virtual world. By building skills in a virtual environment that feels exactly like the real thing, you’ll be prepared for when the situation actually does occur in the office.
VirtualSpeech combines VR videos with tutorials to bring you informative lessons in specific locations. They use technology like voice analysis to help you improve your pronunciation, speaking pace and eliminate hesitations.
Don’t have a headset? No worries. VirtualSpeech sends you a VR headset when you enroll in one of their courses!
Are you a social learner? Do you like to practice English with your friends? If so, the AltspaceVR community is a fun place for you to improve your English in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Create your own avatar (digital representation of yourself) and engage with other real people who are logged in this unique virtual world. You’ll get real English practice when you play games and attend free live presentations that run day or night!
With over 150 countries now connected through AltspaceVR, you can hang out with people from all over the globe, even celebrities! Enjoy making new friends and practicing your English skills through activities such as virtual singing, card games and more.
Immersive VR Education
Immersive VR Education is a software company for both teachers and students to build an amazing learning environment together.
Think about the time and effort it takes to locate a tutor or language expert and arrange times to meet. Since everyone has busy schedules, tutors and language students usually can’t meet in person that frequently. Or you might use Skype or other types of online chat software to have lessons, which can be very helpful but definitely lack some excitement!
Immersive VR Education has worked to change all this. Their free educational platform called Engage brings people together from all over the world. On Engage, you can hold classes, private lessons, meetings and presentations in a virtual space with multiple users. Learn English from educators, communicate with other learners and explore an interesting world that’s rich with language.
This platform has other unique VR experiences that’ll improve your English comprehension. Titanic VR lets you explore a shipwreck and hunt for artifacts, while Apollo 11 VR sends you to the moon! You’ll read labels and maps in English and you’ll hear real audio clips from history.
These virtual reality videos can be downloaded for a variety of VR headsets. You can simply get the app from their site and access their content to be immersed in the virtual world in no time!
ClassVR is an educational VR platform with hundreds of immersive lessons about culture and language. It was designed for teachers, but has an independent learning program with pre-made lesson plans.
These include English language lessons, but also many topics that are relevant to daily life in English-speaking countries and other regions (like shopping, school, weddings and more). You’ll get up-close, interactive visuals with a virtual reality headset—explore the Olympic Park in London, a Canadian Christmas festival and more!
ClassVR also offers augmented and mixed reality programs that bring worksheets and textbooks to life. Adding this extra dimension to typical learning resources can seriously improve your motivation to keep studying!
Education through virtual reality is a booming industry! With new programs and resources for both educators and English learners being created constantly, you’ll have more and more opportunities to improve your language learning in the digital world. Check out one of these English apps or programs and make your learning fun and immersive!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.