I’m one of the second life residents, I have been living there since sep2009. I have a funny story about how I came to SL for first time. My story started with a phone call and an email, yes that’s the true , I’m not a native English speaker. I live in an Arab country and my first language is Arabic. I had studied English for 12 years as a separate subject in the school, and had used it for 5 years during my study in the university. I have practiced my English with people who were not native English.
In the country where I live, there are people from different non- speaking English countries , all of us try to let others understand what we want by using English language. The English we use is not like the English which is used by native English speaking people use and the accent also is different. I’m not talking about all the people in my place, but I’m talking about the people I’m dealing with. In the country where I live, native English speaking people do their best to let others understand their accents.
One day, I wanted to talk to a native English speaking man to arrange a work for my company. I Phoned his office and the secretary replied to me with such a hard English accent. In fact, I couldn’t understand 75% of her speech, she was talking very fast.
The man wasn’t in the office at the moment, So I told her about the subject and gave her my phone number to let him call after his arrival. Not long after I finished my call , the man called and talked to me slowly with understandable accent. I told him what I wanted and we agreed that he would send me an email about the subject we were talking about. When I received his email, I found out that the secretary sent him an email about my conversation with her and that she ended her email with a sentence which pushed me to look for a way to improve my English skills. Her notice about our conversation was “ His English is pretty poor.”. I was ashamed and felt very embarrassed about her notice about my English, so I decided to look for a way to improve my conversation skills. I searched in the internet about the teaching English websites. I found a lot of websites, each website had a different way of teaching English. I ran into the language-lab website. There I tested my level , then I followed the instructions to create an account to be able to study English. When I logged in, I found a weird place with nice graphics and Cartoon movies moved in front of me. At this moment, I wasn’t understand what was going on around me and where I was. I saw the name which I had chosen over the head of a character and there were many characters with names over their heads. I found out that there were many messages that were being written and there was a conversation between those names. Then I started to type and send Instant messages and I received instant messages too. I asked the people around me about the place, they told me it’s second life. “Where is language lab?” I asked. No one replied to me. I have spent the first three months hanging out to discover that new world. I also met many friendly people who taught me how to deal with the SL. During all this period of time, I was looking for English schools but I couldn’t reach to any of them.
One day, a friend asked me to go with her to a school where she wanted to take dancing classes. Maybe it was her first visit to the school , because we found out that there were no dancing classes there, but it was an English school. It was ESL-SL the English school. There I met a man , he talked to me in a very nice way . He explained how the school worked and how I could attend the classes. He gave me all the information I needed to be a student in the school. There was a problem to attend classes, the problem was that the school is not a free school and I have to pay to be able to attend the classes. I felt so sad because I couldn’t return back to attend the classes as I wished because I don’t have lindens and it is not easy for me to transfer money from real life. I received many announcements about the classes, but I couldn’t attend because of my Lindens.
One day, I received an Instant message from the school owner , he asked me if I was interested in attending the classes. I answered him “ yes, I want, But I couldn’t collect the lindens.”. Fortunately, he had the solution, he offered me to work for the school as a help team member and attend all classes for free. It was great offer for me, I started to attend the classes, I was very happy , the classes amazed me because of their way of teaching and also because of the different kind of classes. The classes dealt with all English skills Voice classes, text classes, Grammar classes, classes for beginners, classes for not beginners. Early on studying at the school I was attending most of the classes . I was spending long time in the SL travelling from class to class, I enjoyed studying the English language. Class by class and day by day I found out that my English skills were improved. I could understand more conversations and my vocabulary bank grew more and more. On top of that, I always found the native teacher who corrected my English pronunciation, corrected my English text , corrected the grammar. I was going to the school with a lot of questions and returned back with plenty of answers.
After more than a year I spent studying English in the SL, I can say that it is a wonderful mean to learn. Now, I have the self confidence which enables me to start conversation with the others without fear or shyness. When I talk to people who speak English with hard accent, I have the braveness to tell them that I can’t understand their accent without feeling of shame. I also learnt that there are slang, idioms, phrasal verbs which are very important to study to speak English natively. There is another source that helps me to improve my English, it’s the conversations I do with my native English speaking friends. Text conversation and voice chat help me to improve my skills. Thank you second life .
Not only learning English is the benefit I got from SL, but also learned a lot about others. Others means the people from different cultures. I learned how people deal in different situations, what is good to do and what is not accepted to avoid. I learned also when, how and where people celebrate . I also met friendly people who I exchange knowledge with. I tell them about my culture, my life and my traditions and they do the same with me.
In second life I usually meet people from everywhere, we talk and spend time even if we don’t have a common language. There is a wonderful mean used in second life: it is the translator which residents can wear and talk to everyone. This wonderful mean enables me to keep in touch with friends from countries far from my country. Using the translator eases the study of languages, I already started the study of Spanish language in SL and RL too.
I have a lot more to say about learning in the second life , but I have to finish now, RL is calling