Connecting the Dots: Converse on the Verse
The Immerse app started out offering Spanish classes on Meta Quest headsets. Since then, it has since expanded to include English and French (with more languages to come in 2024), added a web app accessible from any computer desktop, and developed new learning features. Users now enjoy unlimited access to live classes and learning events, AI practice, and language games.
The Immerse team often hears stories of how Immerse has created a positive impact on Members’ lives. In Episode 8 of Immerse’s Connecting the Dots podcast, Christina Cavage and Dr. Tricia Thrasher spoke with Claudia Roberge to hear how Immerse helped her gain the English fluency required to land her dream job.
Nervous at first, Claudia soon discovered that, in her own words, “Immerse is like a playground for adults to learn.”
Christina and Tricia’s Interview with Claudia
Why did you decide to learn English in Immerse?
I bought a VR headset in January and I've seen the Immerse application, but at that time, you said that eventually there will be classes for English. So I kept that in mind but it was really in the back.
Sometime during the summer I was diagnosed with IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I had a job that I had to go on the road and to go on dairy farms. It was really difficult to do my job, and to be frank I was discouraged a little bit to know what I will do in the future. But I really like my company, and they are really personal and person-oriented. I was informed that eventually there will be a post, a position that will be open in customer service as a customer service agent, but I had to be bilingual. I had to talk English.
I was confident of my reading and my listening. I was able to listen to videos in English almost without subtitles, but my talking? I wasn't confident because to be frank, for the reading and listening skills it took me almost 10 years. Wow.
I wasn’t sure it will work but I said to myself, Why not try?
I was really happy to find out that Immerse was now open for English classes. And it happens that at the time I was checking for it, you opened the classes with the new membership options. I was like, Oh yes, with that I will be able to take all the classes I want and (I really like the title of your application) immerse myself in English. So I did that!
How has your English learning experience been in Immerse?
I was really surprised. At first I was really anxious. I thought I will be in beginner classes. I went to the AI. I thought I will start with them, because I wasn’t used to speaking and I was scared to be bad in front of others.
So I have gone there, and in fact it's really funny to talk with them. Sometimes I was talking with one of them and I was like, Am I really talking with an AI? I thought there was a human in the back. But no, I talked to another and I realized, Yes, it’s really an AI!
And finally, when I took my first classes, I realized how the teachers are really positive, and it's really fun when you go to a class.
When you're starting you're not sure how to work the application, and they're really comprehensive. The teachers but the students too, they help you.
And the way we talk, it's as if we are really in the role plays. The students, they joke like, "Oh, you can come to my home to eat tonight, or I can go to yours.” At first I was a little bit taken aback, because I thought, "Yes, but you're in Italy. You won't be able to!"
But I've started to do it myself, to joke around like that, and in fact I'm starting to think, Oh maybe (I don't travel at all) maybe I'll start traveling. Maybe the fact that I've started to know a lot of people in a lot of places - I will be more confident, less anxious, less stressed to be in another country where I don't know anything. So it's really opening doors.
How has Immerse helped you get a job?
I'm really fluent right now. I still search for vocabulary, like you've seen, but really less. And when I search, sometimes I just go around it and explain what I have to say. I'm not stressed, not thinking "Oh I don't know the word.”
I've seen the video with you, Christina and Trisha. The two of you are explaining how you've built the Immerse application and the learning experience. And I really like the fact that you mentioned that it’s a little bit like how kids learn English. It's really this experience that I've lived, and when you said that it really clicked, "Oh, that's why I didn't have difficulty!"
It really clicked when I listened to your interview because I was like, "Oh, it's true!" When the kids learn, we are not always saying, "Oh no, don't say it like that. Oh no, don't do it like that!" We are listening and we are correcting them. Not all the time, but in the fun way. We are showing them pictures, we do activities with them, we play kitchen with them, things like that. And in fact, Immerse is like a playground for adults to learn.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn a language with Immerse? Where would you tell them to start?
I think you have to stay open minded when you start because, yes, it's stressful and maybe the first class you take won't go that well, because maybe you're not that advanced and you won't understand that class.
But it's not necessarily because you're not at that level. Some of the classes are more difficult than others for us, and it's really individual because I could have difficulty from a class and a another will be really good in that class. So I stay open and try.
There's a lot of new students right now. And I like the fact that the teachers take the time to mention that they let students try all levels, to learn for themselves where they are at right now and experiment. Because if we say, “Oh, no, you don't understand this class. Go to the other, and don't come back,” it will be a really bad experience. They won't come back maybe. But we work with them, and in fact I think the teachers maybe like working with me because I like to help the new students so it’s going well.
Do you have a favorite place inside Immerse?
I don't! Okay, I really like animals and I've gone to the zoo one time. To be frank, I really like all the scenes because for myself, I really wanted to be fluent so I really wanted to experience everything.
And it's really that. We have all the scenes that we have to experiment. And we can come back to those scenes to practice again, so when we come back, there's still the vocabulary, the things that are around the rooms that we can check again. And sometimes we took a class that was not the same theme, but it was similar and there’s a click that’s happened in our head. It's like, Oh, I didn't understand it like that, but now it's so clear.
Like I've mentioned, I'm in a VR headset, but I know that some people are on the computer, and I think it's really good because it's not everyone that can get a VR headset. It's expensive. But if you have the money and you like to experiment, I think it's a good experience because, like me, you see, I'm really gestural.
I think the fact that I can work with things like I would work with them in real life really changed my learning possibilities.
There are really connections that are like those that are in real life, so it really helps me. And I'm talking with someone face to face, even if it's an avatar, so it’s helping me. But I have to mention about the avatar, I think it helps for the shy people like me.
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