Learning a different language isn’t easy. It can take months or even years to gain a basic standard – that’s assuming you remain committed and don’t lose interest early on.
AGB Foreign Language Centre in Athens, has been helping people learn new languages since 1977 and is always seeking new ways to promote language learning, as a unique experience that could potentially equip our students with a more ‘holistic’ grasp of its social and emotional contexts.
The school turned to ClassVR, the first in the country, to explore language learning opportunities through the use of VR, to, not only assist students with their language skills but also give them the needed life skills to successfully cope with the demands of the digital age.
Angela Germanakou, founder of AGB Foreign Languages Centre comments: “When it comes to language learning, my role in the School has always been to make sure that everyone involved in the process of learning needs to fully appreciate that there’s more in ELT than teaching syntax or grammar, and, that is keeping the students actively engaged, so that patterns of speech and language functions can organically, and not mechanically, grow as part of their language learning process.”
The decision to incorporate VR into its ‘traditional’ class teaching environment, was based heavily on future-proofing the business, whilst enhancing and building strong relationships with students, restoring enthusiasm, making it fun.
“How could anyone resist the appeal that Virtual Reality Assisted Learning can have to all parties involved?” she noted.
21st century learning
The methods deployed using VR are far removed from traditional learning, such as reading from a text book or a teacher standing in-front of a class with students repeating what’s said.
Instead, with students wearing the ClassVR headsets, they are immersed into virtual environments, prompting discussion and collaboration .
“Our students feel lucky that they can travel the whole world from the safety and comfort of the class, enthusiastic to participate in real life experiences, happy to get to know more of the real world in class,” explained Germanakou. “We could only imagine how VR could affect us all. What would happen if instead of viewing pictures of sharks in the ocean, photos of the International Space Station, or some aerial pictures of NYC, we could actually swim and float right through sharks, experience Earth from Space, and fly over NYC in a helicopter?”
The results, so says Germanakou, have been “amazing”, with the holistic approach helping to “open the eyes” of students when learning about different countries, cultures and by extension the way in which people communicate.
“ClassVR has helped them see the ‘reality’ beyond their own reality helping them relate and connect better with the World around them,” she said. “They are displaying an ability to understand and share each other’s feelings, and the urge to relate to the World around them. It is really about acquiring a learning experience from all angles of life to augment perception. And this is what I consider to be fundamental in changing our students’ attitudes and behaviours towards the world.
“We believe that ClassVR with the added bonus of AR has helped us create a class beyond the restrictions of the classroom. A metaclass where students and teachers, together, create the digital layers of a New Reality where, communication, creativity, cooperation and critical thinking are the new skills required to learn for life.”
The full case study can be viewed here