Monday, May 11, 2015

Travels in Second Life - China as Presented by Monash University in Australia

I visited the virtual city of Hanyu in China, a Second Life city created by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The site is intended to give students the 'virtual' experience of living in China. Almost everything you hear or read while you are there is in Chinese, but the visitor is provided with a HUD* that allows you to click on objects and get their Chinese name. You can listen to the pronunciation of key words, and there is also a Chinese dictionary.

This is a site heavy with information on Chinese culture and language. You can learn more at their website Virtual Hanyu.

Playing a classical Chinese musical instrument.

A sampan ride is part of the orientation.
Monash University has built a number of other virtual platforms where students can go for an immersion experience in different languages and cultures, but they are on different platforms. Their web page lists Croquet, Active Worlds, EVE-Online, and Lively by Google.

The University refers to the different platforms as "Moodles" but calls the one in Second Life a "SLOODLE".

I think that anyone who is trying to learn Chinese, who did not grow up in that culture, needs all the help they can get. I left the virtual city realizing how relatively easy** Spanish, French, and German are for someone who grew up speaking English.

*"HUD" in this instance means "Heads Up Display". Many activities in Second Life use different HUDs for different purposes - from keeping track of the 'gems' you've picked up in Linden Realms to offering a menu of animations for your avatar. The HUD display is usually shown on the top or side of your screen. The closest 'real life' equivalent I can think of is Google Glass.

**Not that I'm very fluent in those other languages, but at least they have the same alphabet.

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