MU Connect issue 6 (page 13)

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Innovative extended reality mobile app to improve interpreting and public speaking competence

“Practice makes perfect.” This saying cannot be more precise for describing interpreting and public speaking — and now simulation technology is making practice in authentic settings easier.

Dr Venus Chan Wing-man at the School of Arts and Social Sciences recently developed XR MALL — an open-access app for interpreting and public speaking training. Here, “XR” refers to “extended reality,” or the combination of immersive and mobile technologies, while “MALL” is the acronym of “mobile-assisted language learning.” Featuring 16 modules divided between interpreting and public speaking training, XR MALL comes with video lectures, virtual reality (VR) and non-VR exercises, instant AI feedback and augmented reality (AR)-assisted vocabulary lists. By wearing a mobile phone VR headset, students are virtually transported to authentic settings, such as a filled conference room, to practise sight translation, consecutive interpreting, simultaneous interpreting or public speaking at different levels of difficulty.

Dr Chan developed her first VR mobile app for interpreting training back in 2020, tapping into the potential of mobile and VR technologies. “VR in interpreting learning was an under-researched area, and the limited studies done mainly focused on desktop VR,” she explains. There was a lack of interpreting apps that combine VR and mobile technologies on the market, leading to the research gap.

Having proved the first app's effectiveness in improving students' interpreting competence, she went on to secure further funding from the Research Grants Council to develop the more comprehensive XR MALL app. “The public speaking modules extend the benefits of XR MALL beyond interpreting students to anyone interested in improving their speaking skills,” says Dr Chan.

Download XR MALL