Māori Mai ME is the world’s first developmental virtual reality app for learning te reo Māori (the Māori language). The name of the app is a combination of the Māori words ‘Māori Mai’ to mean ‘present Māori’ and the English word ‘ME’ which has been capitalised to emphasise the pronoun ‘me’. In this way, the name ‘Māori Mai ME’ means ‘Present the Māori language to me’. This play on both languages encapsulates the bilingual and biliterate functionality of the ‘Māori Mai ME’ app.
The virtual reality environments of the ‘Māori Mai ME’ app were selected on the basis of high social interaction to engage users in conversational turn-taking with different virtual characters. The bilingual and biliterate content of the ‘Māori Mai ME’ app exemplifies culturally sustaining/revitalising pedagogy (Lee & McCarty, 2017) in that the patterning sequence includes first an introduction (mihi), followed by a genealogical reference (whakapapa), then a gesture of hospitality (manaaki tangata), and finally a social event (ngahau). While using the app, users will have multiple opportunities to rehearse, refine and rate their pronunciation and overall language performance using audio recordings of female and male novice speakers, proficient youth speakers and proficient mature speakers.
The ‘Māori Mai ME’ app focuses on the effectiveness of virtual reality as a language learning tool to reduce a user’s feelings of whakamā (anxiety) while learning te reo Māori. Second Language Acquisition studies have concluded that anxiety can hinder learners’ language production and progress. The inherent qualities of virtual reality are immersion, interaction and imagination which has the potential to reduce anxiety for those wanting to learn te reo Māori. Although the ‘Māori Mai ME’ app is very much a developmental product as the world’s first virtual reality Māori language learning app, by design it makes new and exciting contributions to the field of second language learning and teaching, more particularly to users in the initial stages of their second language acquisition journey.
In encouraging the development and uptake of more te reo Māori apps, please click here to see recommended apps.