Incorporating new technologies into our teaching practice does not mean we need to reinvent the pedagogic wheel. The learning principles that underpin many of the tasks, activities and approaches we commonly use today can be improved, extended or even transformed through the considered and informed use of new tools such as virtual reality. In this post, we’ll look at two ways in which VR might be used to achieve this.
You’re a taxi driver, go! You’re checking in at the airport, go! You’re in a restaurant and you’re not happy with your meal, go! Whether you like them or not, role plays have long been a staple of the ELT classroom. The idea that imaginary situations are good for practising functional language is sound. It’s a tried and tested way to subvert the four walls of the classroom and create different contexts for communication. When students step out of their own identities to ‘become’ a different person, or, through the power of imagination, teleport themselves to a different place, the learning experience can be enriched.
This sounds great, and fits well with the communicative approach to language teaching (and, more broadly, with constructivism), but good role plays do take a significant amount of time and effort for teachers to prepare, and unbridled, contagious enthusiasm to motivate students and keep them engaged.