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How important is physical presence in learning a second language?

I'm looking for feedback and opinions on this theme.

It's my view that traditional classroom layout and teaching practices tend to ignore the importance of the body in learning and treat students as if they were floating heads. Ken Robinson discusses this in his famous TED talk on creativity.

With many language schools and institutions turning to virtual worlds such as Second Life in order to cut costs and reach distant and working students, I'm concerned that as we sit in front of our PCs controlling our avatars like puppet masters, the experience of language learning will become further disembodied.

I've been doing some research on this topic and would like to hear what you think http://web.me.com/paul_driver

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As a missionary I have learned two languages. Our approach involved situational frame drills and getting involved with nationals in the countries we were in. Immersion in the culture is impossible unless you are physically there. Languages cannot be divorced from the cultures and the hearts of those who speak them. In my college days I found the traditional study of Spanish in which you learn vocabulary and grammar and are supposed to put them together and become fluent. It was a waste of time. We need to talk and interact with national speakers. We need to visit the local markets. We need to do things together with those who's heart language we are wanting to learn.
http://bit.ly/ctBOSm 4 Really Cool Online Language Learning Communities - I think it matters more that there is meaningful interaction, not that it is in person.
Hehe... thought I recognised the face and name... Hi Paul, I was drawn into your website AGAIN. I'm obviously interested in the idea of using the body in teaching, even online teaching, so... god to see you again. Have you developed the concept further yet?
Tim www.englishcircles.com

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