Virtual reality in academic English writing: exploring factors influencing abstract knowledge learning

Ziming Li, Airong Wang, Diego Monteiro, Hai Ning Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Virtual reality technology has been increasingly used in language education. Its immersive nature can help learners to better focus and understand subjects that can be visualized, such as mechanical design, architectural design, and molecular chemical construction. The novelty of the environment can also stimulate learners’ enthusiasm for learning. Nonetheless, little research has focused on how learners’ prior knowledge affects their learning experience and learning outcomes in VR environments, especially when they learn abstract conceptual knowledge. In this work, we developed a VR learning system to help learners acquire abstract knowledge of academic English writing. We used both control and experimental groups to evaluate this system and did a comparative analysis between learners with different prior knowledge. Our results show that compared with learning in a traditional way, learning abstract knowledge in a VR environment can provide learners with a better experience. We also found that learners with poor prior knowledge learned more efficiently in a VR environment when compared to learning in a non-VR environment. Our work sheds light on how to design a VR abstract knowledge learning system for learners with/without previous knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2927-2939
Number of pages13
JournalVirtual Reality
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Abstract knowledge learning
  • Academic English writing
  • Prior knowledge
  • Technology-enhanced learning
  • Virtual reality


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