Friday, November 23, 2007

Observing a TEFL lesson in Second Life

Osnacantab Nesterov, aka Dennis Newson, observes a class at LanguageLab in Second Life.

On Tuesday, thanks once again to the DoS Paul's generosity, I observed my second lesson at LanguageLab the largest language school in Second Life.

We met at what appeared at first sight to be the under-belly of a motorway, but turned out to be the base of a temple built by staff and students from LL.

There were 6 students and trainee teachers, plus Paul and myself. Most of their avatars' names were tongue-breaking and I can't remember them, but there was a young woman from Holland, one teacher-in-training from Australia and another from Trinidad, a student from Thailand, another from Denmark, and one whose nationality I missed.

For the first twenty minutes or so, standing in a circle, we worked as a group and in pairs matching chosen examples from a list of adjectives with definitions presented last week, and then employed those adjectives to apply to in-world sites that the students had visited. There was a lot of laughter and friendly teasing. (One comment in passing: It is sometimes difficult to work out who is talking, though if you watch the green radio waves emanating from above avatars' heads, it's a great help.)

After 20 minutes or so, Paul suddenly said: "Now we are going to practice some photography. Let's fly up directly above us." And up we flew, with varying degrees of competence and precision.

For the next 20 minutes or so, we all took as many photos as possible, though I lacked most of the extra skills the students have acquired for employing exotic shooting angles. Neither had I any Linden dollars. They all had. This meant I could not upload and distribute my photos amongst the group, but taking photos and sending them to your own hard disk costs nothing.

The lesson ended with the students brainstorming places on SL that they would recommend others to go to:

Note that these are SLURLs and only work if you go through SL , because they are in Second Life. You have to have an account in Second Life to use them.

So, if you haven't yet joined SL and created your avatar, you can begin this very moment by clicking here:

Second Life

Here are the places the students recommended:

Van Gogh. Highly recommended - a Van Gogh museum containing many of his pictures.

Second Sweden. Highly recommended by the student who chose it.

Assisi My recommendation - also highly recommended.

Inspire Space Park. Highly recommended.

Titantic. Highly recommended.

Melbourne Laneways "Well worth a vist, but you will probably only visit it once".

There was a lot of student talk in both lessons I was privileged to observe, and a lot of shared amusement. Conversation took off when, just as in First Life, a particular person was amusing or enthusiastic and animated the others.

I don't see how anyone who experiences such a lesson on SL could fail to be convinced that teaching and learning a language on SL is possible. It is demonstrably so.The challenge is to grasp the extraordinary, technical opportunities that SL offers and exploit them imaginatively and effectively .

Ballroom Titanic.................................... Van Gogh ..................................... Assisi.........................

Sweden..............................................Inspire Space Park................... Laneways, Melbourne........