Exploring Immersive Language Learning Using Virtual Reality

  • Gary Ka Wai WongEmail author
  • Michele Notari
Living reference work entry


Computer-mediated reality (CMR) is a cutting-edge technology that gives numerous opportunities for language teaching and learning. Learners can enhance their language skills through immersion into contextualized environments where they enjoy rich and diverse sensational experiences. Through exposure to specific realistic computer-mediated content, they can learn how to express their authentic experiences. The added value of CMR is its three-dimensional representation, construction, and visualization of the learner’s concept. In the first part of this chapter, common CMR technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality are reviewed. The following sections focus on the affordances of CMR for learning and the conceptual framework underpinning language learning supported by CMR. Two existing project ideas are presented to illustrate how a CMR environment may be used in different aspects of language learning, i.e., reading, speaking, and writing. These two ongoing projects demonstrate the different affordances of CMR and how to derive meaningful research objectives based on the CMR environment. Toward the end of the chapter, potential research problems are examined to help researchers and practitioners find new research directions for further development.


Computer-mediated reality Augmented reality Virtual reality Language learning Concept representation 



This paper is supported and funded by the Seed Fund for Basic Research (Ref: 201704159003), of the University of Hong Kong and the Quality Education Fund (QEF) (Project ref: 2016/0318) of the Education Bureau of Hong Kong.


  1. Akçayır, M., & Akçayır, G. (2017). Advantages and challenges associated with augmented reality for education: A systematic review of the literature. Educational Research Review, 20, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Azuma, R., Baillot, Y., Behringer, R., Feiner, S., Julier, S., & MacIntyre, B. (2001). Recent advances in augmented reality. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 21(6), 34–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bickers, C. (2016). WA science teacher Richard Johnson, Global Teacher Prize. Retrieved January 7, 2017, from
  4. Chen, P., Liu, X., Cheng, W., & Huang, R. (2017). A review of using augmented reality in education from 2011 to 2016. In E. Popescu et al. (Eds.), Innovations in smart learning (pp. 13–18). Singapore: Springer Singapore.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen, C. H., Su, C. C., Lee, P. Y., & Wu, F. G. (2007). Augmented interface for children Chinese learning. In Seventh IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT 2007) (pp. 268–270). IEEE.Google Scholar
  6. Chun, D., Kern, R., & Smith, B. (2016). Technology in language use, language teaching, and language learning. The Modern Language Journal, 100(S1), 64–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coburn, C. E., & Stein, M. K. (Eds.). (2010). Research and practice in education: Building alliances, bridging the divide. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  8. Cooke-Plagwitz, J. (2016). Adventures in teaching: Helping language teachers discover the joy of teaching with technology. IALLT Journal of Language Learning Technologies, 37(1), 35–40.Google Scholar
  9. Dunleavy, M., Dede, C., & Mitchell, R. (2009). Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(1), 7–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. EDB. (2017). English language education: Key learning area curriculum guide (primary 1 – secondary 6). The curriculum development council. Retrieved May 8, 2018, from
  11. Fishman, B. J. (2014). Designing usable interventions: Bringing student perspectives to the table. Instructional Science, 42(1), 115–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fishman, B. J., Penuel, W. R., Allen, A. R., & Cheng, B. H. (Eds.). (2013). Design-based implementation research: Theories, methods, and exemplars. New York, NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.Google Scholar
  13. Furlan, R. (2016). The future of augmented reality: Hololens-Microsoft’s AR headset shines despite rough edges [Resources_Tools and Toys]. IEEE Spectrum, 53(6), 21–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hawkins, D. G. (1995). Virtual reality and passive simulators: The future of fun. In F. Biocca & M. R. Levy (Eds.), Communication in the age of virtual reality L. Erlbaum Associates Inc. Hillsdale, NJ, USA (pp. 159–189).Google Scholar
  15. Helsel, S. (1992). Virtual reality and education. Educational Technology, 32(5), 38–42.Google Scholar
  16. Henderson, S., & Feiner, S. (2011). Exploring the benefits of augmented reality documentation for maintenance and repair. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 17(10), 1355–1368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2010). Use of three-dimensional (3-D) immersive virtual worlds in K-12 and higher education settings: A review of the research. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(1), 33–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Huang, H. M., Liaw, S. S., & Lai, C. M. (2016). Exploring learner acceptance of the use of virtual reality in medical education: A case study of desktop and projection-based display systems. Interactive Learning Environments, 24(1), 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jonassen, D. H. (1994). Thinking technology: Toward a constructivist design model. Educational Technology, 34(4), 34–37.Google Scholar
  20. Kato, H., & Billinghurst, M. (1999). Marker tracking and HMD calibration for a video-based augmented reality conferencing system. In Augmented Reality, 1999. (IWAR’99) Proceedings. 2nd IEEE and ACM International Workshop on (pp. 85–94). IEEE.Google Scholar
  21. Koçoğlu, Z. (2009). Exploring the technological pedagogical content knowledge of pre-service teachers in language education. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1(1), 2734–2737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Low, J. H., Wong, C. O., Yang, H. K., Jung, K. C., Kim, K. R., & Han, E. J. (2008). Interactive Chinese character learning system through pictograph evolution. In International Journal of Human and Social Sciences 4: 11 2009, SOURCE Proceedings of World Academy of Science: Engineering & Technology; Venice, Italy. Oct 2008, Vol. 46, pp. 299, 46, 793–799.
  23. Mayer, R. E. (2005). Cognitive theory of multimedia learning. In R. E. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mayer, R. E. (2010). Applying the science of learning to medical education. Medical Education, 44, 543–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Merchant, Z., Goetz, E. T., Cifuentes, L., Keeney-Kennicutt, W., & Davis, T. J. (2014). Effectiveness of virtual reality-based instruction on students’ learning outcomes in K-12 and higher education: A meta-analysis. Computers & Education, 70, 29–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mikropoulos, T. A., & Natsis, A. (2011). Educational virtual environments: A ten-year review of empirical research (1999–2009). Computers & Education, 56(3), 769–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Moore, P. (1995). Learning and teaching in virtual worlds: Implications of virtual reality for education. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 11(2), 91.Google Scholar
  30. Munoz-Cristobal, J. A., Jorrin-Abellan, I. M., Asensio-Pérez, J. I., Martinez-Mones, A., Prieto, L. P., & Dimitriadis, Y. (2015). Supporting teacher orchestration in ubiquitous learning environments: A study in primary education. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 8(1), 83–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pang, A. L. H., Phua, J. Y. C., Wu, W. T., Suriyani, R., Noor, M. Y. B. M., & Pan, A. (2007). Exploratory study on the use of mixed reality for primary science learning. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, 162, 449.Google Scholar
  32. Potkonjak, V., Gardner, M., Callaghan, V., Mattila, P., Guetl, C., Petrović, V. M., & Jovanović, K. (2016). Virtual laboratories for education in science, technology, and engineering: A review. Computers & Education, 95, 309–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Psotka, J. (1995). Immersive training systems: Virtual reality and education and training. Instructional Science, 23(5–6), 405–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory Into Practice, 47(3), 220–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Saenz, M., Strunk, J., Maset, K., Seo, J. H., & Malone, E. (2015, July). FlexAR: Anatomy education through kinetic tangible augmented reality. In ACM SIGGRAPH 2015 Posters (p. 21). ACM.Google Scholar
  36. Sorden, S. D. (2012). The cognitive theory of multimedia learning. In B. J. Irby, G. Brown, & R. Lara-Alecio (Eds.), Handbook of educational theories (pp. 1–31). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  37. Su, J. Q. (2004). Using AR for children to promote Chinese phonetic alphabet learning. Tainan, Taiwan: National Cheng Kung University.Google Scholar
  38. Sweller, J. (1994). Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and Instruction, 4(4), 295–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wang, Y. F., Petrina, S., & Feng, F. (2017). VILLAGE – Virtual immersive language learning and gaming environment: Immersion and presence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 48(2), 431–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wickens, C. D. (1992). Virtual reality and education. In Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics (pp. 842–847). Chicago, IL: IEEE.Google Scholar
  41. Wong, G. K. (2016). The behavioral intentions of Hong Kong primary teachers in adopting educational technology. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(2), 313–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wu, H. K., Lee, S. W. Y., Chang, H. Y., & Liang, J. C. (2013). Current status, opportunities and challenges of augmented reality in education. Computers & Education, 62, 41–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yannier, N., Koedinger, K. R., & Hudson, S. E. (2015). Learning from mixed-reality games: Is shaking a tablet as effective as physical observation? In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1045–1054). ACM.Google Scholar
  44. Zhao, Y. (2003). Recent developments in technology and language learning: A literature review and meta-analysis. CALICO Journal, 21(1), 7–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zünd, F., Ryffel, M., Magnenat, S., Marra, A., Nitti, M., Kapadia, M, & Sumner, R. W. (2015, November). Augmented creativity: Bridging the real and virtual worlds to enhance creative play. In Proceeding of ACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2015, Mobile Graphics and Interactive Applications, Article no. 21, Kobe, Japan, 2–6 November 2015.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  2. 2.PHBernUniversity of Teacher EducationBernSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute of Lower Secondary EducationPädagogische Hochschule BernBernSwitzerland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Lin Lin
    • 1
  • Bernadette Sibuma
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Learning Technologies, College of InformationUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA
  2. 2.Learning and Teaching DivisionEducation Development CenterWalthamUSA

Personalised recommendations