Virtual reality (VR) is one of the most cutting-edge ways to learn a language.
With VR, you can practice your language skills like never before by simulating a real environment. Be transported to another country, interact with native speakers from all over the world, and make lifelike presentations, all from the comfort of your own room.
It’s backed by studies too, showing how much immersion can help with the language learning process.
I’ve rounded up the best choices for VR language learning apps in the market today, with some pretty cool capabilities:
NounTown is a Kickstarter-funded VR game that teaches you more than 1,000 vocabulary words and phrases in your target language. It’s set on an island with a similar style as Animal Crossing, and you’re tasked with saving the island by learning new words to add color to it. The town includes plenty of learning spaces, like a hospital, farm and supermarket.
It’s especially helpful for learning nouns because you’ll get to pick up and use the corresponding objects in the game, which makes vocabulary so much more memorable. For example, one mini-game involves working at a café, so you’ll get to learn the names for food that way. You can also hear the pronunciation of an object every time you pick it up.
To help you remember the words long-term, the game incorporates spaced repetition.
NounTown is available in seven languages: German, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, Italian, Japanese and French.
Seasoned language learners are no strangers to Mondly. Their online and app-based language learning options have been bringing their A game for a while. But now, Mondly is also venturing into virtual reality language learning, and it’s a real game changer.
Mondly VR focuses on putting you in realistic scenarios, like checking into a hotel, riding in a taxi, ordering at a restaurant or chatting on a train. From there, a character will speak to you, and you’ll respond verbally based on a list of possible responses. Voice-recognition software allows for immediate feedback on your pronunciation to help you perfect your skills.
Mondly VR offers around 30 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and more.
If nothing excites you more than an exotic locale, ImmerseMe might be just the virtual reality program you’re looking for.
Scenarios will help you practice common interactions, like greetings, ordering food and ordering coffee, with native speakers. If you respond correctly and clearly, the dialogue will move forward. However, ImmerseMe has a unique twist—it features real locations, so not only can you practice your language skills, you can actually feel like you’re abroad.
ImmerseMe offers Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.
ImmerseMe is currently available as a Chrome and mobile desktop application and as a VR headset app.
If you’re aiming to learn business English, then VirtualSpeech is the best VR app around for that. Through immersion, it helps you practice a wide range of work scenarios, including giving presentations, making sales pitches, preparing for job interviews and even negotiating your salary. You’ll get quick feedback after based on speech analysis, and your body language will be taken into account too.
A major plus is you can talk smoothly with characters in the scenarios. VirtualSpeech is integrated with ChatGPT, so you can have free-flowing conversations about practically any business topic.
The main exercises are in English, but you can do conversation practice in different languages, like Italian, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese.
Avakin Life is a 3D mobile app in which you develop an avatar and then interact and explore in a virtual world. You can dance, build and decorate your living space, get a job or just hang out.
For language learners, though, Avakin Life provides some opportunities to practice your target language in a simulated environment. That’s because Avakin Life supports 12 languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Arabic.
To find someone speaking your target language, you simply need to go to the “social spots” screen and toggle to “international mode.” Then, you can practice chatting in your target language in an immersive environment.
Wouldn’t it be nice if YouTube videos really pulled you in and made you feel like you were actually there? Well, we’ve got some life-changing news for you—they can.
Fulldive is a virtual reality platform that allows you access to various forms of media in a virtual reality context. This means you can enjoy content in a virtual reality headset.
Fulldive offers an array of user-generated content, including photos and video. However, what’s really exciting for language learners is that Fulldive allows you to stream YouTube videos in virtual reality.
While it’s not interactive like options designed specifically for language learners, enjoying these videos on a virtual reality headset can help enmesh you in the video and make you feel more engaged, which is still quite useful.
VRChat is most popularly known as a social platform where you can meet virtually with other people through user-created worlds. With spaces like virtual resorts and nightclubs, you can find all sorts of groups on the app based on your interests. But did you know you can use VRChat to learn a language?
One way is to look for worlds that are located in a specific region based on the language you’re learning. There are also plenty of worlds meant for language learning and even language exchanges.
It’s a fun way to practice your target language in a less structured environment and chat with native speakers from wherever you are!
Some of the top VR headsets include Meta Quest 2, Valve Index, PlayStation VR 2 and HTC Vive Pro 2. Once you have the equipment, though, there are other things to keep in mind since language learning with VR can be quite a different experience:
Several studies indicate that VR language learning is so valuable because it supports interaction. You’re not just sitting down and memorizing a vocabulary list—you’re physically engaging with what you’re learning, and your senses are stimulated.
VR language learning apps work great as a supplement, so you can combine them with other language learning tools. For example, FluentU has an immersive approach too, but it teaches you through authentic native videos like movie clips and news segments.
Get your flux capacitor in gear!
If you see fluency in your future, check out these VR language learning options.
I am enjoying FluentU. I have been using this site for a couple weeks and I have definitely noticed a huge improvement in my vocabulary. I love that it uses a lot of relevant clips like Norman fait des videos to practice REAL French, and it is presented in such a fun way that it makes it easy to practice. Using this site has become part of my daily routine.
- Rachel Hollars
I really like learning with the videos. I have studied using other methods and it was very hard to put what you were learning into context. With the videos, not only are you learning new vocabulary, you are seeing how it is used. For example the tone which is used, the body language of the person using the phrase and the reaction to the phrase being said.
- Frederick Calestini
I love how I get to see videos, listen to music and learn about real and relevant aspects of the Chinese culture. I enjoy seeing faces in those videos of actors and people that I can recognize from other programs outside of Fluent U - which again tells me that the materials I get are relevant in the real Chinese/Taiwanese culture!
- Aileen Raquel Araúz