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Researchers using life simulations to teach language


A report came out today on Science Daily about a collaborative effort between researchers in Mexico and Jordan to develop a life simulation that helps students learn English as a non-native language. Despite the cheesy pun in the title of their article, the researchers are not using Second Life, but rather they have created their own simulation town (called Realtown, because they apparently love irony).

Currently, the simulation allows for students to read signs, speak (or type) to NPCs, with the ultimate goal of navigating the town and reaching particular destinations. Realtown includes various background noises in order to enhance realism. The team eventually wants to expand the town to include up to forty different buildings, each with its own purpose and goals, as well as its own NPCs with whom to converse.

The article uses the term "virtual reality," and while it's not what you think of when you hear the phrase (no gigantic headset and gloves, as far as I can tell), it might still be an apt description of their creation. Still, whether or not the term "virtual reality" applies isn't terribly important; what's interesting is whether or not the new language tutor will enhance comprehension among the students. Those tests are currently underway, with results to come in the future. What do you think, can being in a world with visual and audio cues help to learn a language better, or will Rosetta Stone reign supreme over the realm of language software?
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About Darren Nakamuraone of us since 2:29 AM on 11.06.2006

Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011.

While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strategy, and rhythm games, he takes particular interest in independent games. He produced the Zero Cool Podcast for about four years, and he plays board games quite a bit when he can find willing companions.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Darren Nakamura knows several people in the video game industry, most of whom are Destructoid alumni. These include:

Anthony Burch, former writer for Gearbox Software
Ashly Burch, notable voice actor
Nick Chester, publicist for Harmonix Music Systems
Chad Concelmo, writer for Golin Harris
Aaron Linde, writer for Gearbox Software
Jayson Napolitano, publicist for Scarlet Moon Productions
Brad Nicholson, former publicist for Uber Entertainment
Alex Ryan, publicist for Kalypso Media
Jim Sterling, notable voice actor

Darren backs a lot of Kickstarter campaigns! If you want to see what he has backed, you can go here. If he ever reviews a game that he backed, that will be explicitly disclosed in the review.

Darren invested in Psychonauts 2 on Fig.
Xbox LIVE:Dexter345
PSN ID:Dexter345
Steam ID:http://steamcommunity.com/profil
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