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Virtual reality: the unreal English classroom

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

This post can be used in class or for self study. It is part of the SpeaknicPro debate series, a series of public debates designed to inspire practical use of English and retrospection.

All previous debates are available for FREE here

This session explores VR and English plus the possibility that we are a simulation.

Ice breaker

Watch the short film 'The Black Hole' and make predictions about what will happen next...

Think of three ways you could use a 'portable black hole' - add them in the Speaknic Forum or the comments below

VR and immersive English tools

Short films are an excellent way to practice your English, they are short enough to enjoy a good narrative without losing focus and....well they are short, that's the main thing.

Here are a few YouTube channels where you can enjoy an excellent selection of different short story genres.

Google spotlight stories - some very moving and introspective animated short films, including 360 films that allow you to be 'involved' in the story

Dust – the best place on the web for Sci-Fi short films of a high standard

Future shorts – really high standard, award winning films (including the above 'The Black Hole') often featuring famous actors

VR and 360

Get more involved in your learning experience with immersive English platforms.

RYOT – watch news and short documentaries in 360, from extreme sports like surfing and kayaking down a waterfall whilst on fire to warzone correspondence. You can move around inside these videos and experience the story as it unfolds.

Public speaking practice - practice speaking in English in front of this VR audience, a great method to combat the fear of public speaking and perfect your English in a more authentic way.

Make your own Cardboard VR goggles with this tutorial, you will need cardboard and lenses which you can buy HERE for only 99 cents

Open debate

Engage is a new VR platform introducing Virtual Reality into education, watch the video and answer the questions in the forum or comment below.

0.32 – PAUSE – How can virtual reality be used in education?

1.46 – PAUSE – should learning be a game? Why? Why not?

2.25 – PAUSE – what is the benefit of being on the moon for the moon landing?

3.07 – PAUSE – does this benefit or stunt your imagination?

END – Do you wish you had learned this way at school?

VR is becoming so advanced that in the future we should inevitably create a virtual world. Do we already live in a simulation? Elon Musk the founder of TESLA thinks so, watch the video below.

Kurzgesagt is one of the best science channels on the web. They provide easy-to-follow explanations of incredibly complex theories and concepts. The following video is about the possibility that we live in a simulation. Watch the video and answer the questions in the forum or below.

0.51 – PAUSE – What does ‘in a nutshell’ mean?

1.23 – PAUSE – this works in the same way as our current computer games, there are limits to what you can explore, although this is becoming less true as games become more detailed.

2.18 – PAUSE – what does ‘take it with a grain of salt’ mean?

2.34 - PAUSE - Is it possible to simulate consciousness? What is consciousness?

3.46 – PAUSE – do you agree with this statement?

5.29 – PAUSE – are we entertainment for future civilizations?

SKIP TO – 7.26 END


Split into groups to discuss the following questions. After 5 minutes stop and move to a new group, with different people. NEW PLACES, NEW FACES. Try to communicate with as many people as possible to benefit from different vocabulary, grammar, accents and opinions.

AT HOME: try this as a writing exercise or start a discussion in the FORUM or comment below.

1 Could VR replace the traditional classroom’? What are the advantages/disadvantages of VR in education?

2 Are we living in a simulation? How could we know? What could be the purpose?

3 If mobile phones can ruin a conversation, how could VR affect the way we interact?

4 How could VR affect the way we solve problems in the climate, architecture, agriculture and so on?

5 What would be the next step in VR? Should we merge our bodies with technology?


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