When Virtual Tours start in the classroom

During the pandemic of COVID-19 and especially the quarantine period when most countries enforced strict lock-down measures, people were not allowed to leave their homes let alone travel. For the traveling lovers and for all those who suffered from being isolated virtual tourism became the best alternative. They visited museums, famous landmarks, historic sites, tourist attractions and many other places of interest which had implemented the Virtual Tours Applications even before the coronavirus outbreak.

When I first heard of Virtual Tours, I could not imagine that I’d soon use them in the classroom. It was during a lesson that we read about the Great Wall of China in a text when a student expressed the desire to visit the place and at the same time his disappointment as it is a far away destination and the trip would cost him a fortune. Then I remembered that I’d come across an online application which offered Virtual Tours of many well-known landmarks. It seemed a good idea to show him the place even if it was on the screen. I found the application there and then and we set out for the Great Wall of China. Needless to say, the class was thrilled and so was I. We could move around and explore the Wall only by clicking on the screen and we even found more information than what our coursebook could offer. I thought it was a great way to supplement my lesson material and it proved more than that.

But why should I implement Virtual Tours in my language classroom?

There may be more benefits than the evidence. Students will of course be exposed to authentic texts, practice vocabulary, and their reading and listening skills if a guided tour is involved, but they will also be intrigued to learn more. Virtual Tours can be exciting mainly because they enable visitors, students in this case, to participate in the tour actively and provide them with flexibility and control as to what they choose to explore. Students who are active in the learning process tend to become more engaged in what is going on and focus on the elements of most interest to them. They also demonstrate improved encoding and understanding of information. The enjoyment and engagement in the learning process guarantee that there will be further exploration of the subject.

How easy is it to use Virtual Tours in class?

Don’t be afraid to use Virtual Tours applications in class as they are very easy. Most of them are designed to click on a visual and then follow arrows to roam around but they also contain simple instructions on how to use the application and where to find useful information about the place. Students are usually eager to help with the process as the applications resemble some of the computer games they play. Let them be your helpers and soon they will take over the tour.

What kinds of Virtual Tours should I select?

There is a wide selection of applications for Virtual Tours most of which are free of charge although there are plenty audio guided ones which charge a fee to get to you to the most popular sites of the world. In my opinion the best Virtual Tours are those which allow visitors to explore and search on their own.

Virtual Tours can be a useful addition to language teaching and learning as it can increase motivation and engagement to the learning process. However, it is more than that. When Virtual Tours start in the classroom they usually continue at home. If students have enjoyed a Virtual Tour in class, they will probably try it again on their own as many times as they want. In the long term they will develop a liking for traveling, visiting museums and historic sites not to mention a liking to acquire knowledge and practice language skills independently.


Maria Papazoi

Maria Papazoi

English Language Teacher at Greek Ministry of Education