BABEL Language School has applied for the Linden Prize of the following reasons:
The establishing of BABEL Language School at Second Life in February 2007 provided the possibility for borderless and structured language instruction in order to increase the student’s mobility, their self confidence and ability to cross borders to seek for new working or studying challenges abroad.
The school’s vision is to offer a consistent alternative for those, who need to or prefer to approach new languages from home. According to this vision it’s the schools endeavor, either totally to transform structures from the best real life language learning experiences to the circumstances of the online universe of Second Life, or to develop new methods and technical solutions for distance learning and learning in virtual worlds, which take advantage of the options, the use of a virtual environment adds to traditional language learning.
BABEL Language School at Second Life is independent and self-made and it is encouraged by many years practice in language teaching on all levels out of world. The progress in classes and the creation of learning material is defined from and built up upon the levels of the Common European Framework of References (CEFR). Furthermore the school develops material and task cards for auto didactical use.
As the founder of BABEL Language School I have described the school’s history and recent activity in other posts and networks around before as it follows here:
After many years as an adult language educator first in Germany and then in Copenhagen, Denmark, I started in autumn 2006 to look for a platform to carry out language instruction in cyberspace. I was looking for a platform, a universe that would be able to accommodate in particular the following possibilities:
- The student and the teacher can be part of an almost natural communication
- Students may repeat content self and a self-selected number of times
- Teaching content is represented visually and aurally
- Educational activities may include speech, writing, listening and reading
- There are objects such as a teapot, which, when activated, could play his own name
- Participants from all over the world can gather for training or events
The choice became the online universe Second Life. After some investigation activity and production of material BABEL Language School could start in February 2007 with German and English teaching. The first two trainees were from Puerto Rico and the United States and were taught German. They had not been able to take a German course in their home area, but in cyberspace, they could.
The teachers were recruited in Second Life, and after interviews and a trial period with guidance they were put to the task. Many of them also work with education in the real world and they are fond of the vision BABEL Language School has, e.g. that the use of virtual worlds has the likeable aspect of being democratically and geographically reachable, why they are willing to make their contribution to a very modest salary.
Students in class feel safe in their virtual language learning process. A couple of interviews might have taken place prior to their classification in the respective courses and some may also be tested by the school to find the right level positioning in relation to the school course levels.
For the Second Life environment BABEL Language School is working in, special learning material has been developed. First of all BABEL Language School bases its class instruction on the personal presence of both the teacher’s and the student’s avatar. In the classroom Media Boards with the complete content of the current unit are used, which also are handed out to the student for homework. Some lessons will also be held as “field studies”, which for example could be to take a walk in the school’s park or to visit other well-chosen locations in Second Life, using the foreign language on what one sees and experiences.
At the moment BABEL offers beginner level courses in the following languages:
- English / American
Classes are either in groups from 4-8 students, highly intensive with 2-3 students or intensive individually lessons with only one student on different price levels.
Although the content could vary depending on the language to learn and depending on the needs of the students, a typical structure could be:
The beginner level would be available from
- Monday in a given week. This class will continue at
- Thursday in the same week
and on Mondays and Thursdays for all the following weeks as long as the student keeps the membership of the group.
The Monday courses will focus on usual needs such as presentation, housekeeping, gardening, building, establishing, buying and selling, at work and on phone.
The Thursday courses will focus on leisure and love issues such as making appointments, suggest ideas, make a conversation run, express feelings and wishes, ordering drinks or other needs in a polite way.