The Impact of High-Immersion Virtual Reality on Foreign Language Anxiety
31 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2022 Last revised: 8 May 2023
Date Written: January 6, 2023
Public speaking, especially in a foreign language, is associated with increased anxiety. Research has shown the potential of virtual reality (VR) for simulating real-life experiences, allowing for public speaking practice in an ecological and safe environment. In this between-subjects study, intermediate learners of English participated in eight public speaking sessions over a three-month period. The experimental intervention took place in high-immersion VR with subjects wearing a VR headset and speaking in front of virtual humans. Speaking practice in the control condition took place using a videoconferencing platform (Zoom). The study generated 160 observations drawn from students’ eight presentations. Multivariate regression analysis revealed that practicing speaking in VR was associated with statistically significant lower foreign language anxiety (FLA) scores, compared with speaking practice using Zoom. This study provides evidence supporting the positive effect of VR technology on practicing public speaking in a foreign language. The research findings have practical implications for professionals and curriculum designers in various domains where public speaking skills are essential.
Keywords: virtual reality (VR), foreign language anxiety (FLA), virtual humans, speaking practice, public speaking, Zoom
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