Connecting the Dots: Converse on the Verse

Episode 7: Immerse Origin with CEO Quinn Taber 

Immerse is the first and only VR platform built specifically for learning languages through live immersion. Over the years since its inception, Immerse has expanded and fine-tuned its features, and membership now provides unlimited access to live classes and learning events, AI practice, and language games

In April 2023, a browser version of Immerse was added as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to lowering barriers to language immersion. This means Immerse is accessible to anyone with a PC or Mac and an internet connection, as well as to those with a Quest VR headset.

What was the original inspiration for Immerse, and what is the company’s ultimate vision?

In Episode 7 of Immerse’s Connecting the Dots podcast, Dr. Tricia Thrasher and Christina Cavage sit down with Immerse CEO Quinn Taber to find out about his inspiration for creating a VR language learning company and where he sees the future of Immerse.

Language as a bridge of opportunity

Quinn has understood since childhood that learning a language can open doors to a better future. His own mother was an immigrant to the U.S., where her English skills made it possible for her to earn a full scholarship and a university degree.

Ultimately, she ended up working to help refugees and immigrants from the Middle East, and Quinn grew up in a home that was often filled with guests from places like Iran, Somalia, and Ethiopia. As he saw how learning English made it possible for them to get visas, pursue higher education, and get jobs, the message was clear - language is a bridge of opportunity.

As a young man, Quinn moved back to the Middle East, working for three years at a charitable organization. Living and working with Syrians in refugee camps, he was surrounded by Arabic. His roommates were not English speakers, and he began picking up Arabic as it was the language everyone around him was speaking. It struck him how natural it is to learn a language through immersion.

A young man seated on the floor beside a child
Quinn Taber learning Arabic

The origins of Immerse

Around the time that Quinn was realizing how effective immersion is for learning a new language, VR began to really hit the headlines. He quickly realized that virtual reality had the potential to completely change the game for language learning. Language immersion could happen inside a virtual world that would be accessible from anywhere. Experienced language instructors could reach learners around the world, teaching them through natural everyday activities in virtual environments.

But to Quinn’s surprise, no one else was talking about it. He was so passionate about the idea of language immersion in VR that his friends finally told him he should start up a company. Immerse was born.

A banner that says Immerse: Start your free 14-day trial today and shows a thumbs up in front of a shelf filled with books, flags, a globe, and a Quest 3 VR headset

Creating the language app he always wanted

The decision to start Immerse meant Quinn had an opportunity to create the type of language learning app he’d always wanted.

“My journey with Immerse,” he says, “has simply been, what have I always wanted out of my language learning journey?”

Studying Spanish and French as a kid, Quinn found himself faced with endless flashcards, drills, and rote memorization. Trying to actually speak was scary. In contrast, learning Arabic from living with Syrians in the refugee camp was a profoundly social experience where speaking was at the core of learning.

Quinn was determined to create an app that mirrored the immersion experience that had felt so natural and worked so well for him in the refugee camps.

First and foremost, he decided Immerse should provide lots of contextualized learning, where you can see and do while you listen and speak - something VR is uniquely suited to making possible.

This is why there are over 40 scenes in Immerse. Learners can learn to talk about their health in a doctor's office, practice asking about prices as they shop for home goods together in a shopping center, and offer their guests food and drinks in an authentic home setting. 

An avatar in a party hat stands by an outdoor gas grill holding a fire extinguisher
Barbecuing in the Backyard scene in Immerse

 And rather than focusing on grammar as isolated structures, Immerse presents grammar as an aspect of communication. Immerse learners are guided to make requests of each other, give one other instructions, express their feelings about a situation, and so on. 

Quinn was also sure that an effective language learning experience should be social in nature. Rather than quietly studying flashcards and grammar charts, learners should experience the language through natural interactions with other people.

Research has since shown that his instincts were right. In fact, neuroimaging studies have shown that learning a language through authentic social interactions activates native-like language acquisition patterns in the brain. 

Immerse lets learners experience language immersion through live interaction with experienced instructors and other learners in classes and social events. The scenes where everything takes place are fully interactive environments, so the situations feel natural and engaging.

Avatars playing together with beach toys
Language learning is fun and social in Immerse

In addition, Immerse offers AI practice scenes and language games. These can be done solo, but because human interaction is at the core of Immerse (just as it’s at the core of real language), learners can always choose to engage in these practice activities together, too.

Tailored to the learner

Everyone has a reason for learning a language. One person wants to talk to his in-laws, another needs it to apply for a new position in her company, and a third hopes to use it during their upcoming travels.

Whatever your reason, Immerse makes sure that your learning matches your goal. You can choose the lessons, events, and practices that teach the skills you’re looking for, and you’ll get the speaking practice you need to put them into practice.

Immerse fits your schedule, too. Set your own schedule, move at your own pace, and practice whenever you want to. The Immerse curriculum is designed to be flexible so you can tailor it to your lifestyle and learning needs.  


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YouTube: @Immersevr