When I became a student, I was told to read English texts I had never engaged.
Like, why would I want to read a boring English text about dolphin, whale, galaxy, etc?
I eventually read it to complete the homework, but it never got me in my heart. It was only like, reading, finding the answer, okay, done, forgotten.
I am sure I am not the only one, but this cycle will end soon because a new technology is emerging, and it’s going to change everything.
Please, welcome, virtual reality.
See also: 16 Things Teachers Said About Virtual Reality.
Virtual reality can turn your classroom into a whole new world. From Paris to Japan. From Africa to Antartica. From Mars to Pluto. Unlimited experiences.
Those students who come to your class just for the sake of scores and attendance requirement—they can find themselves engaged with your English class once you turn the classroom into a virtual world.
But how can we use Virtual Reality for English Class?
That’s what we will discuss in this post.
Virtual Reality for English Teachers #1
What You Need
1. Virtual Reality viewer
There are some choices of virtual reality viewers, such as…
a. Samsung Gear VR ($99)
Works with Samsung mobile. However, it’s not recommended for kids below 13.
b. Oculus Rift / HTC Vive ($799)
These virtual reality headsets work with PC, so make you sure your PC meet the requirement. Again, not recommended for kids below 13.
c. BeThere Book ($26)
This Virtual Reality viewer is made of Cardboard. Works with Android phones and iPhones. Children may use it with adult supervision.
2. If you choose the most affordable option, you need to prepare Android phones or iPhones.
3. Earbuds are optional, but it’s a good way to feel more immersive in the virtual world.
Virtual Reality for English Teachers #2
Use VR to Drive Your Student’s Motivation
The main part of bringing the technology to the classroom is to help students finding themselves.
So, before you start the class, you can ask your students:
- What do they want to be?
- If they can find a job anywhere in the world, where will it be?
- Why do they think they should learn English?
And then, find Virtual Reality content related to their interests.
If this is your first time bringing VR to the class, then it would be very time consuming to find the content one by one for all students.
So, just pick three students, bring them in front of the class, let them speak their answers.
For example, one of your students answered he wanted to work in Paris.
Bring him to Paris with Virtual Reality. Simply go to YouTube and search “Paris 360”.
If they want to work at Google. Do the same thing as you did for Paris.
I remember once I brought myself to my dream country through virtual reality, and it always boosts my motivation to reach that place.
This could be the wake-up call for your students.
Virtual Reality for English Teachers #3
How to Engage Reading Using Virtual Reality
1. Show VR contents before students read the text
When I became a student, I felt like all the texts in English were boring. Long short story, I didn’t have the urge to read all that topics. No curiosity.
And, that’s how Virtual Reality can help you.
Virtual Reality is like the bridge between the text and your student’s passion.
For instance, you have prepared a text about the galaxy, show them this 360-degree video using Virtual Reality Viewer.
Or this one…
YouTube is now the largest Virtual Reality library. You can get many 360 videos for one topic.
Before telling them to read the text, you could ask them: how’s their opinion about it, do they like it, et cetera. The point here is to make them more engaged in this topic.
And then, tell them what they can get after reading that text—make it related to what they have experienced in Virtual Reality. Or simply tell them to just read. They may be curious already. 😉
2. Show VR contents after students read the text
The point here is to see which one works better with your students.
In my personal opinion, this could be done later if students have tried VR for more than a few times.
3. A little quiz with VR
I asked an English teacher on Twitter about he used Virtual Reality in his classroom.
Here’s the answer:
We had read a text about the 7 new wonders of the World. Google Expeditions had a VR trip to the 7 places. 1/2
— Abel Gálvez ELT 🎗 (@abelgalvezelt) October 13, 2016
I read the descriptions to them as they "discovered" the spots and then completed a Google Survey to check understanding 2/2
— Abel Gálvez ELT 🎗 (@abelgalvezelt) October 13, 2016
Virtual Reality for English Teachers #4
Listening with Virtual Reality
With Virtual Reality, listening doesn’t feel like listening.
It’s more like bringing your students to a whole new place, meeting new people, understanding what they are talking about the place your students visit.
Your students don’t have any choice, just try to understand.
To make sure whether your students understand it, you can prepare some questions related to the experience in Virtual Reality. And then, see how many answers they got it right.
At the end of the day, the more they hear English words, the more they get used to it.
And, Virtual Reality is a fun way to do it. Don’t you think so?
These are some examples:
Virtual Reality for English Teachers #5
Writing with Virtual Reality
1. Write down their experiences in Virtual Reality (based on a 360-degree video without narration)
Choose a 360-degree video that doesn’t have any narration—just the video and the music, such as…
And then, tell your students to write their experiences in Virtual Reality. What they saw and experienced, where they were, how they felt—as detail as possible.
Based on my experience, I actually feel like I can write faster and easier after experiencing it with Virtual Reality.
2. Write down their experiences in Virtual Reality (based on a 360-degree video with a narration)
Let’s make it a little bit more challenging. Choose a 360-degree video that has a narration. You can see above on the Listening Section.
You can then prepare some questions related to the narration on the video. Based on those questions, tell your students to answer it all in paragraphs.
The question’s part is just to help them more focused on the explanation and write it in structured.
Virtual Reality for English Teachers #6
Speaking English with Virtual Reality
These games are best for Teaching English as a Second Language class.
1. Where Am I?
This is how to play “Where Am I?”
- Choose a Virtual Reality content. For example, you choose “beach”.
- Pick one of your students.
- Wear him or her a virtual reality viewer. Tell him or her to describe the place he/she virtually are at.
- To make it harder, there should be Don’t-Say-These-Words. For example, if you choose “beach”, then don’t allow your student to say “sand” and “sea”
- Based on your student’s experience, can their friends understand it and get it right?
- Give only 20-60 seconds to explain. This depends on your student’s ability in speaking.
P.S. To make your students more engaged in this game, you can make a deal, like, if they get it right for 10 times, then there will be no homework. That’s where they get the spirit.
2. Truth or Lie.
This is how to play “Truth or Lie”
- Choose a Virtual Reality content. For example, you choose “haunted forest” or “rollercoaster”.
- Pick one of your students.
- Wear him or her a virtual reality viewer.
- Your student can tell a lie about what he or she sees. For example, he/she’s virtually at the haunted forest, he/she can explain it like, “It’s a very cozy place. I’m sitting on a sofa. In front of me is a television”. But can he/she keep it fake when the ghosts appear? This is going to be fun.
- If your student can fool their friends, then he/she win, and vice versa.
Well, I guess there are a lot of ideas in your head right now.
And, you feel like you cannot wait to do it with your students.
But, at the same time, you may think, like, “I don’t know really much about Virtual Reality, how can I get the right content for my students?”
Well, that’s why we’re here. You can do your daily task, and we’ll do your Virtual Reality task.
Get BeThere Book because…
… you can directly get recommended VR apps and recommended 360-degree videos through the QR codes inside. The best thing is that we update it regularly—mostly free.
Are you ready to turn your classroom into a virtual world?
If you have any questions about Virtual Reality or BeThere Book, you can find and ask us on Facebook and Twitter.
Or simply visit our contact page.
See you in a virtual world!