A double blind peer reviewed online publication with in-print supplement since 2010    ISSN: 1949-260X

JTCLT Abstract

Volume 1 Number 1, 2010
Full issue PDF

Liu, S. (2010). Second Life and its application in Chinese teaching and learning. Journal of Technology and Chinese Language Teaching, 1(1), 71-93.

Full paper


This article first introduces what Second Life is, including its origin, similarities and differences with Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (e.g., World of Warcraft), and its influences in such areas as business, health, and education. The first section also discusses the relations between Second Life and other social Web 2.0 tools (e.g., Wikis), and points out that Second Life is not the only 3D virtual worlds. There are other similar 3D virtual worlds such as Active Words, Twinity, and HIPIHI (a Chinese virtual world developed by a Chinese company at Beijing) as well as new emerging ones (e.g., Opensim, and Open Cobalt). Next, the article briefly describes the history of applying Second Life in language education, such as when and who started to use Second Life in language teaching and learning, and listed some examples of using Second Life in teaching different languages (e.g., Spanish and Italian). This section also introduces the existing wikis and listserv on the use of Second Life in education, as well as the related annual conferences (e.g., SLanguages) and proceedings. 刘士娟 Second Life 及其在中文教学中的应用 Journal of Technology and Chinese Language Teaching, 1(1), 71-93. ISSN: 1949-260X 72 In the third section, the article introduces real cases of using Second Life in Chinese teaching and learning, such as the online Chinese language courses taught at the Confucius Institute of Michigan State University. This section describes three cases in more detail. One is the courses taught by Professor Scott Grant at the Chinese Programs of Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. The second case is the MyChina Village project, a virtual summer camp held in Second Life in August 2009, led by The Center for Applied Second Language Studies at the University of Oregon. The third case is a collaborative project between a class on multimedia and Chinese pedagogy offered to preservice teachers of Mandarin Chinese from the Chung Yuan Christian University, Taiwan, and an intermediate Chinese class offered to Chinese language students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott. The three cases all used Second Life in improving Chinese teaching and learning, and all built their virtual facilities in Second Life. In the fourth section, the article discusses the advantages and disadvantages in using Second Life in Chinese language teaching and learning. The first advantage is reflected in teaching and learning online. For example, Second Life can help make online teaching and learning more engaging as well as provide a way to organize learning resources in multiple dimensions. In addition, it can help strengthen connections among online students and make synchronous group discussions more effective. This section also discusses the other four important advantages. For instance, using Second Life helps create a realistic situated context for role play and authentic communication. It also becomes easier in Second Life to act out the language and use the Total Physical Response strategies. Additionally, students can experience studying abroad in the virtual worlds while staying home. Another benefit is that it is easier to find topics and less awkward to start a conversation with a stranger in the virtual worlds. On the other hand, the major disadvantages of using Second Life include: the technical barriers such as the high requirements of the users’ computers; the high learning curves that demand time and energy in mastering the use of this tool; the monetary cost for purchasing the virtual space and building the virtual facilities; the need for technical and teaching support; and the potential unexpected disturbing behaviors because of the open nature of the virtual environments. The last section provides suggestions for instructors and researchers interested in using Second Life in Chinese language teaching and learning, such as knowing the tool well before using it; weighing the investment and outcomes in using the tool; Finally, the author encourages interested researchers to conduct a review of the studies on the use of Second Life in teaching different languages, and encourages interested instructors and researchers to explore the use of HIPIHI, the Chinese 3D virtual worlds, in Chinese language teaching and learning.

本文共分五部分。文章首先介绍了什么是 Second Life,包括其缘起、发展历史和近几年在教育、商业、健康卫生等领域的影响。同时比较了它和 3D 大型多人在线角色扮演游戏的异同,阐述了它和互联网第二代技术的关系。此外,还介绍了与之同属一类的其他 3D虚拟世界。文章第二部分简单概括了 Second Life 在语言教学中的运用情况、相关学术会议和网上讨论小组等。文章第三部分重点介绍了三个利用 Second Life 进行中文教学的实际案例。接着,文章总结了将 Second Life 运用于中文教学的五大优点和五大缺点及相关问题。文章最后为有意将 Second Life 或其他类似 3D 虚拟世界运用于中文教学与研究的教师和研究人员提了几点建议。

This website is supported by
The TCLT Standing Committee
Department of World Languages, Literatrues, and Cultures, Middle Tennessee State University
Department of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Macau
Page last updated: 2016-12-31