Anglesey business using VR technology to help Gwynedd learners

A COMPANY on Anglesey has made language learning a virtual reality (VR).

Animated Technologies has developed a VR pilot for Welsh learners in the Gwynedd immersion programme designed for children who are new to the county.

The resource is a first for learning the Welsh language, taking traditional classroom materials into a new VR space.

Using multiple choice, children can navigate around imaginary town, Aberwla, practising their language skills with up to 30 other people and digital avatars.

The hope is the new technology will make language learning fun and more interactive for the youngsters.

Anna Burke, co-founder of Animated Technologies, said: “We are really excited to see this project come to life, and hope pupils who take part in Gwynedd’s 10-week language immersion programme enjoy learning through this new technology.

“We know that using VR for learning is effective, with studies showing that learners retain up to 75 per cent more information using technology like this compared to the usual classroom setting.

“Already, we are getting fantastic feedback, pupils love spending time in the virtual Aberwla.

“The next step for us is to expand the VR space to offer additional content and scenarios so learners can extend their vocabulary and confidence.”

Funded through the Welsh Government’s Late Immersion Grant, Gwynedd Council commissioned Animated Technologies to develop the virtual town originally created by writer and TV presenter Anni Llŷn.

The aim is to help newcomers to Gwynedd acquire the language before they enter mainstream education, with the new virtual experiences reinforcing classroom learning. 

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Cllr Beca Brown, cabinet member with responsibility for education, said: “We wanted to develop innovative resources to support new comers to the county to learn Welsh, adding value to our existing ten-week language immersion course.

“We hope the virtual Aberwla will appeal to our learners and help them practice language patterns through play and apply their skills in different contexts.

“It’s important that we give children and young people who are new to Gwynedd every opportunity to learn Welsh so that they can fully participate in activities with their new friends at school and in their communities.

“This project will do just that, as well as contribute to the Welsh Government’s goal to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050.”

North Wales Chronicle | Anglesey