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Designing a Virtual Social Space for Language Acquisition

Maria Alessandra Woolson
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Maria Alessandra Woolson: Middlebury College, USA

International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments (IJVPLE), 2012, vol. 3, issue 3, 21-42

Abstract: Middleverse de Español (MdE) is an evolving platform for foreign language (FL) study, aligned to the goals of ACTFL’s National Standards and 2007 MLA report. The project simulates an immersive environment in a virtual 3-D space for the acquisition of translingual and transcultural competence in Spanish meant to support content-based and communicative classroom practices. This paper describes the design of MdE on Second Life as a dynamic environment of integrated technologies and its selection criteria, including the pedagogical principles guiding design and practices. Pedagogy is further explored conceptually in addressing language acquisition and cultural immersion within the broader communication’s system of language, images and symbols of the digitalized age. The initial pilot demonstrates that negotiations of meaning and negative feedback intrinsic to virtual interactions promote repair moves. Furthermore, students’ reconfiguring of conventionalized norms of participation results in increased exchanges in the classroom that stimulate student-centered discussions and meaningful collaborative work.

Date: 2012
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