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VR versus traditional classrooms

Florida International University (FIU) researchers have been given $543,439 in a grant from the Stevens Initiative to build a Virtual Tabadul (tabadul means ‘exhange’ in Arabic). The aim of this project is twofold: first, to find out if virtual learning supports additional-language acquisition and the second is to build bridges between US and Middle Eastern students.

Students at FIU and the University of Michigan-Dearborn who are studying Arabic as a further language will ‘meet’ students in the Virtual Tabadul who are studying English at Oum El Bouaghi University in Algeria and Ibn Tofail University in Morocco. Here they’ll encounter everyday situations and scenes, like shopping, eating out and being in someone’s home, where they’ll do tasks together to reinforce language learning opportunities.

Their language learning will be assessed and compared, among otbers, against a control group.

“We are excited to bring this advance in language learning to scale and to highlight FIU’s amazing strengths in interdisciplinary research. This could not have been possible without the collaboration of multiple scholars from diverse fields,” said Melissa Baralt, project director and professor in the Department of Modern Languages at FIU.  “Our goal is to build on the interest of students to study critical foreign languages by providing them with an opportunity to participate and learn using virtual exchanges with their peers abroad.”

Image courtesy of Hammer & Tusk on Unsplash
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