This paper deals with the rising need of using virtual reality technology in teaching Mandarin. In the last few years, during the Covid-19 pandemic, students lacked the opportunities to be immersed in study-abroad programs and even in-person communication with native speakers was significantly reduced. With the recent restrictions it is necessary to transform the vehicle for foreign language acquisition with more task-based and experiential learning using VR. Blanka Klimova (2021) previously studied the use of 3D virtual reality apps in different subject areas. She showed that VR is not used in non-native language learning and teaching (NLLT) as much as in natural sciences. Another paper by Svitlana Symonenko et al (2020) concludes that virtual reality benefits foreign language learning by emphasizing students’ ability to socialize in everyday and more professional situations. However, these studies, while useful, looked specifically at students learning European languages and do not take into account the specific complexities involved in learning Mandarin where the written (characters) and spoken (Pinyin) forms must be approached differently when compared to other languages. This paper will evaluate the use of VR in two stages. First, it will compare Mondly (currently the most popular VR app) with other new apps (Language Lab, Dino, VRchat, etc.) in Task-Based-Teaching pedagogy with a focus on language in use instead of a focus on form in isolation associated with the specific characteristics of Chinese educational linguistics. Second, it will compare the use of “Uptale”, an Immersive VR authoring platform, to traditional presentations and role-play activities.
Limei Shan is a Professor of Practice in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at Lehigh University. In 2014, she obtained her M.Ed. in Globalization and Educational Change from Lehigh University with a concentration area in Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Prior to her appointment at Lehigh she taught Chinese at the Shenzhen New World Training Center, English at Donghu Middle School in Shenzhen, and taught Chinese at the Ross Global Academy Charter School in New York City. She has taught all levels of Chinese language classes at Lehigh and has led the development of the Chinese se