Traveling by Headset

Immersive VR for Language Learning


  • Dorothy M Chun University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Honeiah Karimi University of California, Santa Barbara
  • David Joshua Sañosa University of California, Santa Barbara



immersive virtual reality, languaculture learning, technological affordances


In line with the 2021 CALICO Conference theme “Global realities,” we presented a plenary on how immersive virtual reality (IVR) could be used for second language learning by allowing learners to virtually travel around the globe via headset. The main affordances of virtual reality (VR) technology include immersing learners in an authentic cultural context almost anywhere on the globe, while manifesting a strong sense of presence and enabling learning through embodied cognition, which involves kinesthetic engagement. In this article, we first review current models of immersive learning and note how certain processes of second language and culture learning are missing in these models. Using some examples of IVR apps for second language learning, we discuss the research to date that focuses on the affordances of the technology for languaculture learning and propose how the effectiveness of these apps could be studied, expanding on the cognitive-affective model of immersive learning (CAMIL, proposed by Makransky & Petersen, 2021) to include social factors. We conclude with some recommendations for the development of future IVR apps for languaculture learning that follow our expanded theoretical model.

Author Biographies

Dorothy M Chun, University of California, Santa Barbara

Dorothy M. Chun is Professor Emerita of Applied Linguistics at UC Santa Barbara and Co-editor of Language Learning & Technology. Her research areas include L2 pronunciation and intonation, L2 vocabulary acquisition, CALL, and telecollaboration for intercultural learning. She is currently on a team developing VR games for learning.

Honeiah Karimi, University of California, Santa Barbara

Honeiah Karimi is a PhD student in Education with an emphasis in Quantitative Methods at UC Santa Barbara. Her research interests include VR for language learning, data science, and educational measurement. She received a BA in Linguistics from UC Riverside and an MA in Linguistics from California State University, Fullerton.

David Joshua Sañosa, University of California, Santa Barbara

David Sañosa has been working with VR research/development since 2013. He is currently a PhD candidate studying at UC Santa Barbara, focusing on sociocultural approaches to technology-mediated creative learning activity. He is a researcher and lead VR designer for the Community-Based Literacies (CBL) Virtual Reality project.


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How to Cite

Chun, D. M., Karimi, H., & Sañosa, D. J. (2022). Traveling by Headset: Immersive VR for Language Learning. CALICO Journal, 39(2), 129–149.