International students learning English through virtual reality and AI

December 02, 2019

Walk into a classroom run by our English Language and Culture Program (ELC), and you might encounter a curious sight: rows of international students, immersed in the world of their virtual-reality headsets. It might look like playtime, but behind those bulky goggles, they’re busy learning English.

Thanks to a pilot program this fall with Virtro, a Vancouver startup supported by SFU VentureLabs, ELC students are building English skills with the help of an interactive game that combines virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI).

“We’re excited to test the leading edge of this technology,” says Bertrand Lee, director of ELC.

Using Virtro’s new language-learning app, students get to play detective in the virtual world of a cruise ship in outer space. To solve the game’s central mystery, they must question AI characters on the ship, practising their speaking and listening skills in the process.

Results of the pilot program have been encouraging, and ELC is now testing the app for an even longer duration with their next intake of students.

Read the full story on SFU News.