A Virtual World for Teaching German


  • Richard Michael Levy
  • Mary Grantham O'Brien


In this research, a virtual world of an Austrian town centre was created to teach German to first year students at the University of Calgary. While interacting with characters in the City of Salzburg, students were able to take control of their own learning, and at the same time were exposed to cultural and linguistic realia that are often not present in other types of language games. In playing the game, students reported an improvement in their listening skills, and they also noted that the experience was beneficial for vocabulary learning, pronunciation, general fluency, and improving reading skills. Surveys and direct observation of student game play offer insights into attitudes towards personal use of games, the value of educational games for teaching language and impact of different testing environments on the success of playing a game. Examining the recorded paths taken through this world by students during the game, space syntax research offers some interesting perspective insights into strategies game players employ when looking for the correct path through an urban space. In fact, isovist and axial maps may be helpful in predicting the first line of action taken by game players as they navigate through a virtual world with no verbal clues.