When speaking about teaching or learning a foreign language in VR, Benjamin Franklin’s adapted quote helps explain the way to success: ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Immerse me and I learn.’
The VirTrain project is meant to deepen the knowledge about the impact of VR-based technology in language teaching and learning in Vocational Education and Training.
So far, research has shown that learners genuinely get involved in realistic situations in VR, fully concentrate on their learning process and, therefore, chances are they they will end up acquiring the foreign language more easily.
After designing a methodological framework for training VET language teachers, the VirTrain international team (CASPHE and MTI from Czech Republic; Armeria Eskola VET College from Basque Country and Provincia Autonoma di Trento in Italy) prepared a purpose-built hybrid course, the first part of which was run in Moodle in July.
From 8th to 13th September participants could broaden theoretical knowledge in the face-to-face training sessions ran in Kyjov, Czech Republic, at the Moravian Training Institute (MTI) premises. Lukas Macenauer -digital education specialist- and Jan Červinka – Adult Education university student- ran four workshops in which teachers experimented with VR apps such as: Immerse online, Engage or Warp VR.
Participant teachers from the Basque Country represented five vocational schools: Armeria Eskola VET College, Don Bosco, Leioa Hostalaritza School, Meka Lanbide and Miguel Altuna. VET trainers had the opportunity to access several apps on Oculus 2 headsets and experience them both as teachers and students.
Furthermore, they went on a field trip and took 360 degrees photos and videos, another teaching option for the VR classroom.
Among other things, they discussed the kind of activities in VR suitable for the different language skills (reading, listening, speaking and writing), came up with different ideas for the classroom and discussed possible downsides such as technical fluency of both students and teachers.
They developed a template for a VR model lesson plan, which they will use to develop their own lessons. After testing them with the students, the recorded sessions and the rest of material will be uploaded to the VirTrain online platform.