We have been running English sessions in Second Life since 2010. Why? Why not?
The great thing about Second Life, in fact any virtual world, is that it's more than just sitting around, you move about and interact with other participants and the objects around you.
What do you need to have?
- The technical requirements for any virtual world are quite high. You must have a good Internet connection (the faster the better) and a good quality computer with sound card and graphics card.
- To hear any conversations you will need a good pair of headphones (or computer speakers).
- To speak you will need a good quality microphone with a reasonable sound card (you can now buy USB headsets with a built in sound card).
- You will also need a bit of patience. Virtual Worlds teach patience: Things go wrong, viewers crash, voice goes choppy, or fails altogether, people disappear in front of your eyes in the middle of a conversation, but as we like to say, "...technical issues are just another learning opportunity".
What do you need to do?
- If you don't have a Second Life account you'll need to become a member and download their recommended software, following the instructions online (it's all free).
- To join in any sessions we run in Second Life you should ideally be a member of the Learn English forum and be in Teach's contact list on Second Life.
- Of course, to join any of our sessions in Second Life, you will need a viewer (a viewer is like a browser, but it takes you to virtual 3D spaces, not web pages).
- Once you have created your Second Life account, set up your user name and avatar (follow the instructions on their web sites) and and install the free software. We cannot give full technical support for the installation and running of the software, but there is a support forum within SL.
- We use Second Life's own viewer.
- Once you are in-world, practise walking in a straight line, using your camera, setting up your microphone, and some of the more complicated things you can do. An hour or two spent on this, will save you a lot of frustration later.
- To get into Second Life you need to log in via the viewer.
- Make sure your settings are correct before you join a session. You can find help with your voice settings here.
- And of course you are free to visit any sim within SL, with no restrictions, apart from age. You will be amazed at the people you will meet and the things you will see. Remember - you cannot "unsee" things, so, if you are sensitive we recommend you set your preferences to M and G - Mature and General. It's up to you if you want to use the A setting (Adult), but you won't find us there.
How do you access the Second Life sessions?
- To join our sessions, send Teach a private message with your Second Life id.
- She will send you a contact request via Second Life the next time she logs in, and once you have replied to it (in world), you will be able to see when she is online, and to send her messages in-world.
- You will be invited to join our English Book Club in Second Life. Just have a chat with Teach and she will add you.
- Most of our events are held in one place, but we sometimes visit other places (sims).
- You will find it helpful to keep the LEN area in your landmarks on Second Life. If you "leave" the group, it will mean you are no longer a member there and you might not be able to get back in.
When are the sessions run?
There's something happening in Second Life 24/7.
We go to Second Life during different sessions. We might start off in Discord, and then invite everyone to join us in SL. If your computer is unable to run Second Life, we try to stream into the session, so you can at least see what is happening there.
You are not limited to only taking part in our sessions. We actively encourage you to explore other opportunities with other groups.
What times do the sessions run?
There is a calendar of times here. All times are *CET = Central European Time. The calendar also shows when we are away, or on holiday, so it's a good idea to check regularly.
What is CET? We work on Berlin time. You can click here to calculate the time in your city/country: www.timeanddate.com/worldclock - choose Berlin for the time to convert from and the city that represents your time zone to convert to your local time.
What do we do in the sessions?
In the book club on Mondays we meet up in Second Life to read a book (no surprises there).
In our Back to Basics sessions, we go through some of the basics of English - from the alphabet to how to use those tricky little nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions - when we go to Second Life it becomes an audio / visual experience.
Once a month we meet up and then go on to explore other places in Second Life or on Open Sim. From Virtual Britain to Virtual Zanzibar, you can expect just about anything, and if you find a cool place you can be our guide (G and M rated regions and sims only).
How to contact us in Second Life
Once you are one of Teach's contacts in Second Life, you will be able to leave her messages in world. Contrary to popular belief Teach doesn't live in virtual worlds permanently, but the messages will be stored for when she next logs on, and she will usually reply to any reasonable request.
!Note - The usual rules and guidelines apply.
Of course you are not limited to our sessions on any virtual world. If we are not there at a time to suit you, find a friendly sim with other people to talk to, it can be in a social setting, like a pub in virtual Dublin, or a park in virtual London, or an art gallery in virtual Barcelona. There are also sims dedicated to language learning, and some of them are free.
Don't be frightened to go exploring. It's a really cheap way to travel.
Check out Graham Davies' Virtual World Language Learning links for more information.
*We ocassionally record the sessions for streaming on the web. By participating in any of our sessions you have agreed to this.
You might like to read this article, to get a better idea of why we promote virtual worlds:-
Beyond the game - Meeting native speakers in virtual worlds