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Fostering Cultural Understanding with Virtual Reality: A Look at Students' Stereotypes and Beliefs

Fostering Cultural Understanding with Virtual Reality: A Look at Students' Stereotypes and Beliefs
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Author(s): Margherita Berti (University of Arizona, Tucson, USA), Stefano Maranzana (Southern Methodist University, Dallas, USA) and Jacob Monzingo (University of Arizona, Tucson, USA)
Copyright: 2020
Volume: 10
Issue: 1
Pages: 13
Source title: International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching (IJCALLT)
Editor(s)-in-Chief: Bin Zou (Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China) and Michael Thomas (University of Central Lancashire, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2020010104

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Abstract

In virtual reality, language learners can experience the foreign culture by exploring authentic and contextualized learning environments. To date, there is a lack of studies investigating the use of highly immersive virtual reality for cultural understanding as well as learners' attitudes toward its implementation in the language classroom. This study addresses this gap by exploring language learners' stereotypes and generalizations of the foreign culture experienced in highly immersive virtual reality, and their beliefs regarding its use in the educational setting. Undergraduate students enrolled in beginner Italian courses viewed three ordinary Italian environments with the use of their smartphones, headphones, and Google Cardboard. Through surveys, written reflections, and a focus group interview participants shared their cultural understandings and attitudes toward virtual reality. Results show that virtual reality was positively perceived and helped learners discover new cultural layers generally not encountered in traditional pedagogical materials.

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