Learning beyond language: English for specific purposes (ESP) learners’ experience in the Second Life world

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University of Alabama Libraries

The purpose of the study was to explore and describe the instructional potential and implication of using Second Life® (SL) world to teach content-based English to English for specific purposes (ESP) learners while enabling them to achieve their specific professional, educational, or personal goals simultaneously. This research study followed a qualitative research design: a descriptive case study that included observation and analysis of the teaching and learning activity between one native-English speaking instructor from the U.S. and 16 non-native English speaking undergraduate students from China, who majored in aviation-related programs, to seek for their actual experiences and perceptions of learning English for their specific purposes, in a pre-designed, aviation communication-themed SL course. The findings of the study revealed that, as novice SL users, learner participants held consistently positive attitudes toward learning English for their specific purposes in the pre-designed virtual learning environment (VLE) of SL, due to their specific purposes as the practical motivations. Their self-efficacy was engaged and enhanced by their active participations in the learning process that SL afforded. The learner participants autonomously utilized available resources and interacted and collaborated with instructor and peers to gain incomparable learning experiences than what they used to do in the traditional classroom. Several instructional affordances that SL offers for ESP learning were identified and discussed. With inevitable limitations identified in the study, the researcher provided recommendations for ESP learners, instructors, and instructional designers, as well as for future research between SL and ESP education.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Educational technology, English as a second language, Instructional design