In Canada, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, has announced that an investment of more than $2 million will go to the educational-technology non-profit organization Voilà Community Help for two projects that use metaverse technology to support French-language
The investment is part of the Canadian government’s Action Plan for Official Languages
2023–2028 unveiled in April based on the results of Canada-wide research and analysis on official languages, conducted by Canadian Heritage from May to August, 2022. The announced it will invest $4.1 billion in resources and programs that support Canada’s two official languages.
Teaching French as a second language in Canada is viewed as an essential practice in encouraging bilingualism, promoting the French language in Canada, and connecting with native French speaking Canadian communities.
Including French, the Government of Canada maintains recognition for the importance of minority-language education “from early childhood to the post-secondary level, stating “we are proud to support innovative initiatives that will help us meet this goal.”
With the investment, Voila has created ‘Artificial Intelligence for Official Languages’ a large-scale project built in partnership with more than 35 school boards across Canada. The project aims to optimize use of Voilà Learning, an interactive virtual platform that allows students to improve language skills while having fun. The platform has a virtual campus where students from across the country can interact with each other, do homework tasks, write on a board, create videos, interact with facilitators and get help from qualified teachers.
The addition of artificial intelligence has enabled Voilà Learning to collect information about each student’s unique learning style and profile, to provide them with personalized educational content to ultimately enhance learning experiences.
The organization has also announced a ‘MétaLingo’ project for early years French learning. This initiative aims to provide preschool children with the language skills to interact easily in French, through activities and games. In this section of the platform, the metaverse will simulate public spaces such as a daycare, park or movie theater, allowing each child the opportunity to interact in French with their peers in realistic scenarios.
“It’s a real pleasure to see the launch of projects that combine new technologies and French-language learning in Canada. The pandemic has multiplied the need and demand for these learning mechanisms. I’m delighted to see that the virtual campus is already in high demand by school boards across Canada. It’s through innovative projects like this that we can continue to improve education programs and offer young people opportunities to grow and flourish in French.” said Taylor.