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Virtual reality application has become a trend in education, since it combines virtual-simulated scenarios with real-life classroom, allowing learners to interact with the learning materials for an immersive experience. This present study explores the integration of virtual reality tools in college English curriculum, researching into the effects of situation-based learning environment on learning achievement and autonomous learning motivation. Adopting a quasi-experimental design, the experimental group was subjected to learning with digital materials, i.e. Second Life virtual characters (avatars), while the control group received traditional lecture-based learning. The results showed that the incorporation of avatars into the materials significantly improved the English learning achievement of freshman students. In addition, virtual-reality-assisted learning materials also encouraged students' motivation to learn autonomously. Based on the findings, virtual reality has strong potential in language education. Since the integration of avatars into English learning materials can boost students' willingness to learn autonomously, we suggest future curriculum design for advanced English courses to combine virtual reality in the construction of a situation-based English learning mechanism.
Date of Conference: 24-26 Oct. 2011