The Web-Based Online Virtual Language Center

  • Peter Yang


The Web-based virtual language center (VLC) has become a
reality for language learning on many campuses. It offers
students obvious convenience of time and location. They
can attend lab at any time they want (it is open 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week) and from any location where they have
a networked multimedia computer.
However, the decision about which language center services
should migrate to Web-based delivery is a difficult one
because the VLC is "self-service" without lab assistants and
is based on emulating the existing physical language
learning environment. There are many open theoretical and
practical issues concerning its validity as a language
learning environment and its establishment and
maintenance. Furthermore, it has not yet proven to be an
ideal learning environment for oral communication activities
between students and the instructor and among the students.
This article will attempt to address some of these basic
issues. Although it is not intended to give the reader a readymade
model of the VLC, the author hopes to be able to
provide those who are interested in setting up a Web-based
language center with some practical suggestions. It is also
the author's desire that this article stimulate those who are
experienced with the VLC to open a broader discussion of
related issues, such as aspects that must be considered for
setting up such a center and the ways in which existing
VLCs could be further improved.