The Government of Canada invests in artificial intelligence and teaching French as a second language from early childhood
TORONTO, May 10, 2023
Teaching French as a second language is essential to encouraging bilingualism and promoting the French language in Canada. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of supporting continuous minority-language education from early childhood to the post-secondary level, and we are proud to support innovative initiatives that will help us meet this goal.
Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, announced more than $2 million in funding to Voilà Community Help for two projects that use metaverse technology to support French-language teaching. Minister Petitpas Taylor was joined by Arielle Kayabaga, Member of Parliament (London West).
Thanks to this innovative investment, the organization has created Artificial Intelligence for Official Languages, a project conducted in partnership with more than 35 school boards. The project aims to optimize Voilà Learning, an engaging interactive virtual platform that allows students to improve their language skills while having fun. Students on Voilà Learning’s virtual campus can interact with each other, do homework, write on a board, create videos, interact with facilitators, and get help from qualified teachers.
The addition of artificial intelligence has enabled the platform to gather information about each student’s unique learning profile and provide them with personalized educational content that enhances student learning and the use of French as a second language.
The organization has also committed to carrying out the MétaLingo project for learning French in early childhood. This project will allow preschoolers to interact easily in French with hosts and other children their age through activities and games designed to meet the evolving needs of children in this age group. The metaverse will simulate public spaces such as a daycare, park or movie theatre, allowing each child to interact in French with their peers in realistic scenarios.
Early childhood plays a critical role in fostering the transmission of language, building identity, and maintaining the demographic weight of Francophones in Canada. These investments will make it possible to meet new needs and priorities in French-language education, starting in early childhood.
“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.”
—The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
“We have shown that our virtual campuses have the potential to create a more inclusive and accessible education system for all students in Canada, regardless of their linguistic background. We look forward to working with all stakeholders in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education in Canada.”
—Hosni Zaouali, President, Voilà Community Help
The Enhancement of Official Languages program provided funding for Voilà Community Help’s Artificial Intelligence for Official Languages project from 2018 to 2022. Funding was $350,000 over three years, including an additional $81,000 approved in November 2021.
In January 2023, Canadian Heritage approved funding of more than $1.6 million over two years for the MétaLingo project, which contributes to the Early Childhood French Language Training pilot project for which the Department of Canadian Heritage received $3.7 million for the years 2022–2023 and 2023–2024 as part of Budget 2021.
Founded in 2010, Voilà Community Help is a Canadian non-profit organization. It brings together French language teachers from different school boards across Canada and offers French educational services in the form of engaging online virtual campuses. The organization specializes in the collective sphere of education and new technology (metaverses).
The organization emphasizes collaborative learning, which has been proven effective in increasing spontaneous human interaction in French between young people, encouraging them to communicate in French and to solve problems together. Thousands of students have been able to use the virtual campus to learn and practise French as a second language.
Since 2014, the organization has received funding through the Official Languages Support Programs, whose overall objective is to enhance the vitality of English and French official-language minority communities and promote the use of English and French in Canadian society.
On April 26, 2023, the Action Plan for Official Languages 2023–2028 was unveiled. The Action Plan is the result of the analysis of the Canada-wide consultations on official languages conducted by Canadian Heritage from May 24 to August 31, 2022. The Government of Canada will invest $4.1 billion in resources and programs that support our two official languages.
- An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts
- Budget 2021
- Action Plan for Official Languages 2023–2028: Protection – Promotion – Collaboration
- Official Languages Support Programs
- Voilà Community Help
For more information (media only), please contact:
Office of the Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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