Monday, October 13, 2008

Now You Can Get Your Second Life in a Second Language!

"There’s been a quiet revolution going on, as international Second Life Residents and a small number of Lindens work together to translate tens of thousands of text strings and critical web pages into nine key languages. In another month (depending on QA time) the full viewer will be live in German, French, Korean, and Japanese. It will also be partially localized into Spanish, Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese and Danish. We’ll continue to work on these languages, and plan to begin Italian and Dutch next. The goal is a high quality Second Life viewer and website available to all Residents communicating in each language."

For those of us in Education this is MAJOR progress. For those of us in the business world this is MAJOR progress.

Learning tools often are branded in a single language and therefore enforce the native tongue of their maker, unless it is a course cartridge to TEACH the secondary language. But, for a moment, take off your Dolly Doldrum face and rejoice with me. Imagine a software that could allow us to actively allow ourselves to inconspicuously begin learning another language.

How many of you have had silent ESL students in our courses? It is very difficult to get them to speak in English for fear of saying the wrong thing or fear they may not pronounce something correctly. They do not want to see their teacher or classmates wince when the pronunciation or word choice repeatedly affects communication. That poor student will go silent unless made welcome by those in the class and by the teacher.

The same effect happens for a native English speaker trying to learn a second language. No one likes to be wrong or see the pained expression of a teacher who is tired of your r's not rolling!

Imagine, if you will, a world market so to speak, with signs and symbols to decode in order to communicate. This is like traveling for real! You can stumble into a group of native speakers and begin halting conversation using Voice Chat or typing. You can then learn the spelling and vocabulary needed to exist in this new country. Welcome to the Rosetta Stone of the future. You learn by experience just like you do when you travel in the real world.

The bonus? They still don't know who you are if you mess up horribly, and as kind as most SL residents are, they will probably HELP YOU!

For teachers, this is the opportunity to connect students to native speakers for practice sessions. Oral skills are hard to develop during class time with a single teacher and only other non-native speakers are readily available for practice. We can't all afford that Summer Abroad, but we may now have the free ability for a day abroad or a year abroad to learn the culture and language of another country.

I just wanted to say KUDOS to Second Life for this effort. Teachers, if you have bright students with Linden minds, send them in to Second Life to help with the Rosetta Stone of the future. For that matter, shouldn't Rosetta be sponsoring this!!!

Arigato gozaimashita SL!

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