Teaching Language and Culture with a Virtual Reality Game

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Paper looks at the port of the existing Japanese learning, gamification, virtual environment Crystallize to VR, and the new medium's affect on cultural learning (represented by bowing), as well as language learning compared with the non-VR implementation, and enjoyment and engagement.


  • Situated Cognition: (Brown) all knowledge is situated in activity bound to social, cultural and physical contexts
  • Encoding Specificity: (Thomson, Tulving) recall is most effective when the conditions at the time of encoding match the conditions at the time of retrieval

Key points

  • VR and embodied interaction has an opportunity to also teach cultural interaction, context and non-language communication
  • VR allows error, and thus is good for learning (matches some SLA theory)
  • VR does not necessarily lead to better vocabulary learning
  • VR increases interest + enjoyment in process and subject


  • Do we find it difficult to stay engaged in language learning? How? Why? Is it quantified?
  • How many people want to learn a second language?
  • Does simulating an environment in VR increase enjoyment (compared with non-simulation options)? How do you test this?

Further reading

  • Presence leads to better learning → Bob Witmer (1998), Measuring presence in virtual environments: A presence questionnaire. Presence: Teleoperators and virtual environments
  • Lack of linguistic progress on culture learning → Louise Damen (1987), Culture learning: The fifth dimension in the language classroom.
  • Positive effects of studying language abroad → Koichi Tanaka (2003) Study abroad, language proficiency, and learner beliefs about language learning. Barbara Freed (1995) Second language acquisition in a study abroad context