Second Life is a wonderful place to teach and practice English. Unlike video games, there is a real person behind every avatar, and all of the things you see around you have been created by the residents. “SL”, or Second Life is like “RL”, (real life, as it is referred to inworld), in that you can make of it whatever you like. Shop, go to the beach, go dancing, take classes, borrow a book from the library and read it in a park or at a coffee shop, visit museums, attend parties. The sky is the limit and anywhere you go, you will find opportunities to make new friends and chat with them in English.
As in real life and also anything online where you are meeting new people, it is important to use common sense and to keep safety in mind. Here, we will provide some tips and guidelines to help you get the most out of your time in the virtual community, while staying safe.
1.) Consider staying anonymous. Some people are very open about their RL. It is fun to learn about the people you meet, and it’s natural to wonder what country they live in, how old they are or if they are married. But what you share about your RL is completely up to you. It is fine to say that you prefer to keep your RL separate. As with any platform, never give out your password, home address or any information that could be misused.
2.) Set your maturity rating. There are three levels of content that you can choose from, and these will determine the types of experiences you can have. They are general, moderate and adult.
The general setting prohibits violence, nudity and sexuality. People under 18 are automatically restricted to general content.
The moderate setting is roughly equivalent to what you find in RL. This is the most common setting for malls, restaurants, galleries and other venues. You might see advertisements for sexy clothing stores and furniture designed for sexual activity, and you might or might not want to wander into that back room at the dance club.
The adult setting is for people who are actively seeking extreme violence and/or sexual experiences. For those who want to avoid these types of encounters, just make sure that you stick to general or moderate settings.
3.) Don’t engage with anything that makes you uncomfortable. If someone is being rude or mean, just ignore them and teleport to a different location. Don’t feel pressured to accept friendship requests from strangers. If you have already accepted, simply delete the friendship and block them. If you think it warrants it, you can report the person.
How to Use Second Life Safety with Younger Students:
There are many SL destinations that are safe, educational and designed with children in mind. However, Second Life as a whole isn’t meant for younger people. There are special rules that allow kids who are 13-15 to participate, and people who are 16-17 may visit locations that are labelled as general.
So how can educators use SL safety with their younger students? A good guide is to remember that SL is like RL. No sensible guardian would suggest that children wander off to explore the wide world alone, and it’s the same inworld. If you decide to do a field trip where the students have their own avatars, a parent or guardian should be informed, and be the one who logs on/off and provides a password. And just as you would do in RL, you’ll want to make a firm class rule that students stay with the group at all times.
If you want to bring the incredible experience and opportunities of SL to your class, but want to avoid the hassle that goes into planning a fool-proof field trip, consider using screen share. This way, students will be able to see the action without being logged on themselves. Simple sign into your account, go to the destination what you want to visit, and use the screen share option of whatever platform you usually use.
While this technique doesn’t allow for the full inworld experience, it can still be an interactive class and a great way to get students talking. One way to do this is for them to take turns telling you what they want to happen next and empower them by doing what they suggest.
We hope that this simple trick adds an engaging and fun tool to your teacher’s tool box! We’d love to hear about your experiences. What grammar points and/or vocabulary did you cover using this technique, and how did it work in your class?
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments, at Exhibitaenglish.com
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