The urgency of the problem is due to the emergence of new concepts in the field of development of distance learning systems (DLS) and the necessary refinement and assessment of the latest trends in this area. The purpose of this article is to describe the experience of using the virtual language environment for teaching Russian as a foreign language (RFL) and to try to clarify the definition of the term ‘v-learning’ (learning in virtual reality) relatively to the term ‘e-learning’ (learning with the use of electronic educational technology) in the light of the development of computer technology and user interfaces. The main theoretical research methods are: direct observation; descriptive method, classification and modeling. The article presents refined definitions of v-learning and e-learning. The results of experimental learning and obtained data during the survey are described. The research results presented in the paper may be useful for the design and development of DLS based on virtual reality technologies.