In an increasingly multilingual world, it is important to examine methods that may lead to more efficient second language learning, as well as to analyze the mechanisms by which successful learning occurs. The purpose of the current study was to investigate how different learning contexts can impact the learning of Mandarin Chinese as a second language. Two contexts [virtual environment (VE) vs. traditional learning environment] were compared and examined from cognitive and linguistic perspectives. Thirty-one monolingual English speakers participated in a training study consisting of seven learning and testing sessions, followed by one additional sessions of delayed post-testing. The participants’ behavioral performances with regard to accuracy, reaction time, and exposure were collected and analyzed. Through analyses of variance and mixed-effects modeling, the current study shows that the learning trajectory of the participants in the VE showed a larger acceleration than that of those in the traditional learning context, which suggests that simulated embodied experience in the VE may have aided in the processing of a second language, especially with regard to enhancing the learning trajectory in short-term second language training.
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