Virtual reality via mobile-rendered head-mounted displays (MVR) has emerged as a valuable language learning tool. However, research has yet to fully access its effects on English as a Foreign Language (EFL) listening. Therefore, this study investigated the impact of MVR on EFL learners’ listening comprehension. Seventy-two seventh graders in Taiwan were recruited and randomly assigned to an experimental (MVR player) or control (video watcher) group. The MVR players played the language learning VR app Mondly, using a mobile-rendered head-mounted display. The video watchers watched a walkthrough video of Mondly on a PC screen. Listening comprehension tests, a presence questionnaire and interviews were used to evaluate the participants’ listening comprehension, sense of presence, and perception of MVR-assisted EFL listening. The results showed the MVR players’ listening comprehension and retention was significantly higher than the video watchers’. The interviews revealed that the majority of the MVR players found MVR-assisted EFL listening engaging and beneficial. MVR offered learners access to simulated, interactive, and immersive virtual environments to perform authentic learning activities, helping them activate prior knowledge and make appropriate inferences. Furthermore, virtual presence in MVR brought learner involvement from the fringe to the center, prevented cognitive overload, reduced anxiety, and thus aided comprehension.
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