A quantitative research on gamifying vocabulary acquisition and retention in virtual reality
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Despite being a building block in language learning, vocabulary can be a learning obstacle for some learners. This study explores the effects of virtual reality (VR) games on English as an additional language (EAL) EAL learners’ content-based vocabulary acquisition and retention. Six Year 9 Middle Eastern students from an independent school in Western Australia were randomly selected to experience this VR approach. A Google Cardboard headset was utilised to immerse players in a 3D environment, enabling them to acquire target vocabulary while exploring the content in VR games. Data was collected through a pre-test (to screen pre existing vocabulary knowledge), post-test (to measure vocabulary acquisition via VR games) and delayed post-test (to measure vocabulary retention). Marked differences were found between pre- and post-tests (p = .021) and pre- and delayed post-tests (p = .033), suggesting that the gamified VR environment can stimulate content-based vocabulary acquisition and enhance its retention. This 3D approach to vocabulary learning implicates the pedagogical benefits of VR games for struggling EAL learners.
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