October 02, 2018
In a world-first, MLC Year 7 students learning an additional language are now able to use the power of VR-based technology to develop real-life communication skills.

The pioneering ImmerseMe software simulates authentic conversation scenarios that students interact with on their laptops using voice recognition technology.

The creator of ImmerseMe, Scott Cardwell, had the idea for the software after seeing the potential whilst travelling himself. Scott approached Chloe Briand, MLC Head of Languages, to help create the content and dialogue. With the support of MLC’s senior management, it took eighteen months of content development. Scott also travelled to real locations around the world to film authentic interactions with enthusiastic locals.

Students are placed in a situation where a local talks to them via a recorded 360 video, and they then have to respond. Using speech recognition software, if the pronunciation is satisfactory, the student then gets moved onto a video of the reply, and then can continue the conversation.

“You could be in Paris buying a croissant, and in order to get to the next stage, you need to pronounce the correct answer perfectly,” says Chloe. “The content was designed for real-life interaction, so the dialogues at Year 7 are all about travelling, such as making a booking, ordering food or asking for directions.

“The program allows us to get move away from a traditional learning setting, and bring the world into the classroom.”

This is a radical shift from learning a language with lists of vocabulary, and is now the backbone of MLC’s learning program starting with Year 7, and being rolled out over other year levels. It encourages independent, self-directed engagement where the students are in charge of their own learning.

“Studies have shown that the most anxious part of learning a language is speaking to a native speaker,” Chloe says. “This tool allows you to practise and improve on your fluency in a real-life scenario, without feeling self-conscious.”

It has taken a lot of work from our Year 7 language teachers to integrate the software into the curriculum, but the results have been worth it! “After six months, the impact it has had on our program is quite dramatic,” says Chloe of the software, the first of its kind worldwide.

This is the new way of 21st century learning, with MLC leading the way with this technology to create truly global citizens.

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