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FOREIGN LANGUAGE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN

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Interactive multimedia language learning for “wired” pupils

The VIRLAN network is a multi-user environment, especially designed and developed for young pupils in order to practice foreign languages. It incorporates dictionaries and phrase books, educational games, slide shows, communication with text based chat, audio, visual (white board) and e-mail, amongst others. After all, language has a multimedia nature: it can be spoken, heard, seen in texts, pictures and videos.

Digital Economy

Virtual Reality Language Learning Network, VIRLAN, is a multi-user virtual real-time language learning network for school children (age 8 - 11) where children from all over the world can “meet”, learn enjoyably and exchanging cultural information. It is innovative in technical, educational, pedagogical and linguistic terms. At the present pilot stage, four countries namely Germany, Greece, UK and Finland are connected to the central node (a country called CENTRALIA), with 3-5 schools each, even though it can be freely accessed by anyone in a limited function mode. The network is composed of more than 90 different virtual rooms and several applications. These are notional areas for different learning levels with a relevant vocabulary addressing the needs of the target age. The four identical sites for the countries, in terms of functionality include, 2D and 3D practice areas for the six notional areas. In technical terms, VIRLAN provides a user friendly graphical interface in a multi-user virtual reality environment. There are supporting applications like the online vocabulary, the text generator and multilingual help function appearing in the native language of the user. Additionally, there is an off-line Poster Generator tool, giving the opportunity to pupils to publish their posters in VIRLAN. Connection possibilities are available through the Internet at prearranged hours between the teachers, but also through other local networks to which the schools belong. Workshops are organised regularly for the teachers of all the pilot countries, while they also receive newsletters with the latest advances. Useful links: http://community.swt.iao.fhg.de/colonycity/eingangEngl/index.html

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