Learn a foreign language with the Nuns using virtual reality

door Regina Coeli

Learning a foreign language using virtual reality has recently become possible at Language Institute Regina Coeli, also known as ‘The Nuns of Vught’. Regina Coeli is the first language institute to make use of virtual reality (VR) in language training to develop students’ communication skills.

VR is extremely well-suited for practicing presentations, job interviews, pitches and the like. With a VR headset on, a student can step into a real-life situation with an audience that responds and even asks questions. Students who have used VR to prepare for these types of situations have shared that the real-life situation has been a great deal easier afterwards.

Virtually travelling to another country

It is also possible to virtually leave our language institute in Vught and journey to other places in the world. This way, a student can use VR to realistically order an espresso in an Italian bar or pay at a Spanish kiosk.

Active grammar practice

A third VR application that Regina Coeli has developed is a grammar exercise. This exercise turns abstract grammar into something tangible which students can actively use.

Overcoming anxiety

“Because of the number of stimuli a student gets in the VR environment, he automatically breaks through his fear of speaking, as it were,” says Katharina Stoll, German language trainer and VR Project Manager at Regina Coeli. "We’ve already seen many students who suddenly start talking with their VR headsets on, despite the fact that they were nervous about that prior to using VR.”

Virtual reality is well-suited to private lessons. The language trainer sits in the same room as the student and can guide, ask and correct the student, while the student feels he is in a different place altogether.

Immediate feedback from language trainers

A group of Regina Coeli language trainers started experimenting with the use of VR in language training some time ago, although they soon realised that they could not lean on existing VR applications for learning foreign languages. The conclusion was that blending one-to-one coaching from a language trainer with VR is ideal because of the direct feedback that a language trainer can give on the student’s language use.

Stoll: “We’ve discovered that VR can make a solid contribution to learning provided it fits the learning objectives of the student. The applications we use are suitable for almost every one of our learners.”

VR not a goal in itself

The use of VR at Regina Coeli has been carefully considered. “For us, the use of new applications is not a goal in itself," says Esther van Berkel, Director of Studies at Regina Coeli. "We’re focused on finding opportunities to accelerate the learning of foreign languages. This has definitely been the case when it comes to VR. That’s why we’re also continuing to develop all kinds of applications for VR. We have a broad spectrum of students who have wide-ranging learning goals, and we all want to help them make as much progress as possible.”

The use of VR offers a colourful palette of opportunities. In addition to practicing conversations and presentations and virtually travelling to other countries, a student can also bring his own VR material to practice with.

Give a guided tour of your company using VR

“More and more organisations are developing content to provide VR guided tours or 360o photographs, which we can use when students are with us. Give a guided tour of your company in German or French! Most of our students come for business training and want to learn to communicate in a foreign language for their specific business needs. VR can make that all the more life-like," says Katharina Stoll.

Do you want to learn a language using VR?

Do you also want to improve your language skills using virtual reality? Then simply contact us to arrange a personal meeting with one of Regina Coeli’s language trainers.

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