SLEducating myself about SLA pedagogies

I had a great experience Tuesday teaching French to a group of language educators from around the world…I was using the Natural Approach to teach colors to them. I had a portable projector and we talked about the different colors briefly, practiced pronunciation, and talked about the colors we were all wearing.

Then things got exciting.

I sent them out with cameras to take a picture of something in their favorite color, but didn’t anticipate that they wouldn’t know how to use their cameras. Plan B: Take us to the subject of your photo shoot. We teleported to London to look at a bright red telephone booth, over to the caves of Lascaux to the most breathtaking blue water…and to a few other sites, all in the space of about five minutes!

Then, I got to watch my colleagues do similarly amazing things using other SLA methodologies. One of them had created this amazing field of phonetic “buttons”, where you could touch a phonetic symbol and hear the phoneme played out for you:

Impossible? Then you haven’t been to Second Life lately. It was fascinating to see how different ways of teaching languages play out in Second Life, and the strengths and weaknesses of each. More about this at another time.

As time progresses, I hope to discuss how teaching in Second Life differs from teaching in the classroom, and even from teaching online using traditional tools. I also will discuss both Second Life and third-party tools and applications that can be used in Second Life to enhance the learning of a target language or culture.

If there is anything you want to learn about teaching languages in SL, feel free to drop a line to suggest a subject for an upcoming post!

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Doug Canfield has been running an "other-minded" language center down in the Tennessee Hills for about 8 years. A lapsed (recovering?) medievalist and French teacher, his passion now involves emerging research paradigms for exploring language instruction and learning, especially in virtual worlds. His goals include fostering the use of technology for instruction, communication, collaboration, and recreation. His alter ego sometimes blogs elsewhere.

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  1. Barbara · November 4, 2007 Reply

    Hey Doug it is great to have you here at long last (I should talk… I have so many posts in Draft mode right now it is not funny…maybe you have inspired me to get cracking!)

    A question: when you say you were teaching language educators from all over the world…was this a F2F class? Was this entirely in SL? Or was it a mixture of both? If it was all in SL…how did you meet up with them there?

    Inquiring minds (and fellow authors) want to know!

  2. Doug · November 4, 2007 Reply

    This was entirely in SL, at the business offices of Since inquiring minds want to know, here’s where to go to sign up to express your interest in working with them:

  3. Benjamin · February 23, 2008 Reply

    I’m curious to know whether you have had the chance to “discuss how teaching in Second Life differs from teaching in the classroom”. I’m new to SL and am just now trying to figure it all out. Any comments/suggestions about how to get started would be greatly appreciated.

    I teach preservice English language teachers in Mexico and have had some success implementing language exchanges with learners in the US via Skype. But I’m curious to see whether SL is suitable for this group of English language learners as well.

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