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Virtual reality technology recognised for making Welsh learning fun and accessible

01 Apr 2024 6 minute read
Children using Animated Technologies’ immersive VR platform

Stephen Price

A digital creative agency based in Anglesey has been recognised for the creation of a groundbreaking virtual reality programme that immerses Welsh learners in an interactive online village.

Animated Technologies is celebrating a momentous evening of awards this month – clinching two prestigious awards at separate ceremonies.

The innovative firm was honoured with the ‘Best Education Technology Application’ at the Wales Technology Awards for its groundbreaking Welsh language learning VR application, Aberwla, and also saw its Art Director, Megan Gregory, recognised as an ‘Unsung Hero’ at the Creative North awards in Bangor, Gwynedd..


The agency’s celebrated Aberwla application allows pupils to use a VR headset, create a character, and explore the virtual village of Aberwla.

They can visit the local supermarket where they must use their Welsh language skills to complete tasks and communicate with characters in the game.

Immersion learning offers pupils who don’t speak Welsh the opportunity to learn the language and enter Welsh-medium education. Aberwla demonstrates one of many innovative ways Welsh language learning is being developed to reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The Welsh immersion programme provides a solution to help learners practise their skills and in an immersive role playing environment that ties in with the current curriculum.


Previously, learners were relying upon materials that were created in the 1980s, and so the team at Animated Technologies set about bringing them up to date to keep learners excited and engaged.

This pilot project takes traditional learning into a virtual space, allowing children new to the language to learn and practise their skills in real life scenarios.

Using multiple choice questions, children can navigate through the imaginary town of Aberwla, learning and interacting with each other.

Up to 30 people can enter the space, with their own digital avatar, to use their language skills in a fun and interactive way.


Having a truly monolingual environment is challenging, as many people revert to English when faced with learners. In Aberwla, the learners are fully immersed in the Welsh language.

Studies have shown that learners learn 4 times faster when in the VR space when compared to traditional classroom learning.

The experience can be repeated time and time again – learners aren’t just restricted to one week of immersion a year.

Content has been shaped to follow the school curriculum and enhance the learning experience, working alongside the teacher within lessons.

Users are 16 times more likely to recall information when compared to traditional methods.

At this month’s illustrious Wales Technology Awards, Aberwla emerged as the frontrunner in a highly competitive field.

Simultaneously, at the Creative North awards held in Bangor, Gwynedd, Animated Technologies’ own Art Director Megan Gregory, was celebrated as this year’s “Unsung Hero.”

This award recognises individuals who have made significant, yet often unrecognised contributions to the creative industry. Meg’s unwavering leadership has been essential in guiding Animated Technologies to the forefront of educational technology.

Animated Technologies at the Wales Technology Awards

Anna Burke, Managing Director of Animated Technologies, expressed her exhilaration over the double victory She said: “Tonight is a landmark achievement for Animated Technologies.

“Winning the ‘Best Education Technology Application’ award for Aberwla affirms our commitment to educational excellence and cultural preservation in Wales. Simultaneously, Megan’s recognition as an ‘Unsung Hero’ underscores the depth of talent and dedication within our team. These awards reflect our collective passion for leveraging technology to make everything we do, engaging and effective.”

Anna added: “These awards underscore Animated Technologies’ role as a trailblazer in the digital sector in Wales, reinforcing the company’s mission to create engaging and visually stunning animations and applications.

“Aberwla, with its innovative approach to language learning, and the recognition of Megan Gregory’s behind-the-scenes brilliance, only highlight the company’s commitment to excellence and innovation.”


Funded through the Welsh Government’s Late Immersion Grant, Gwynedd Council commissioned Animated Technologies to develop the virtual town originally created by local 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 class- room learning.

Councillor Beca Brown, the Gwynedd 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.”

The future

At the time of its launch, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: “Children and young people are the future of the Welsh language, so it’s great to see developments like Aberwla which put their needs and interests first.

“It is my ambition for Wales to become an international leader in using digital technology to create a modern, bilingual society. Aberwla is an exciting development that allows pupils to learn Welsh through gaming. I look forward to seeing its rollout across Wales.

Head of Cyngor Gwynedd’s Welsh Immersion Education System, Rhys Meredydd Glyn said: When language centres were established here in Gwynedd forty years ago it was an innovative practice.

“Children new to the county spent one term in a language unit learning Welsh while taking an intensive immersion course.

“The Council’s vision is equally innovative today in up-to-date immersive provision to ensure that our children and young people have rich, relevant, interesting experiences while getting to grips with the Welsh language.”

Find out more about Animated Technologies here.

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