Words in Motion: Kinesthetic language learning in virtual reality

Christian Vázquez, Lei Xia, Takako Aikawa, Pattie Maes "Words in Motion: Kinesthetic Language Learning in Virtual Reality", 2018 IEEE 18th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT)


Embodied theories of language propose that the way we communicate verbally is grounded in our body. Nevertheless, the way a second language is conventionally taught does not capitalize on kinesthetic modalities. The tracking capabilities of room-scale virtual reality systems afford a way to incorporate kinesthetic learning in language education. We present Words in Motion, a virtual reality language learning system that reinforces associations between word-action pairs by recognizing a student's movements and presenting the corresponding name of the performed action in the target language. Results from a user study involving 57 participants suggest that the kinesthetic approach in virtual reality has less immediate learning gain in comparison to a text-only condition and no immediate difference with participants in a non-kinesthetic virtual reality condition. However, virtual kinesthetic learners showed significantly higher retention rates after a week of exposure than all other conditions and higher performance than non-kinesthetic virtual reality learners. Positive correlation between the times a word-action pair was executed and the times a word was remembered by the subjects, supports that virtual reality can impact language learning by leveraging kinesthetic elements.

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