Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 63, Issue 5, pp 709–726 | Cite as

Lost in second life: virtual embodiment and language learning via multimodal communication

  • Sarah Pasfield-Neofitou
  • Hui Huang
  • Scott Grant
Research Article


Increased recognition of the role of the body and environment in cognition has taken place in recent decades in the form of new theories of embodied and extended cognition. The growing use of ever more sophisticated computer-generated 3D virtual worlds and avatars has added a new dimension to these theories of cognition. Both developments provide new opportunities for exploring new ways of facilitating language acquisition in the foreign language classroom environment. In this article, through two case studies we examine student interaction in a virtual environment customised for foreign language learning to examine “virtually” embodied and extended cognition. Our examination identifies two particular features of this combination of mind, (virtual) body and (virtual) environment that further underline the potential of 3D virtual worlds as sites for embodied and extended cognition: students often do not distinguish between themselves and their avatars; the boundaries between the real and virtual environments are highly (cognitively) permeable.


Embodied cognition Virtual worlds Avatars Non-player character SLA 


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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