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South Korean Schools to Use Robots for Teaching English

South Korean government has funded a new project for using robots to teach English to children. Around 30 robot teachers have started teaching in 19 elementary schools of Deagu city. The worth of this pilot project is US $1.39 million and its tenure is four months.

This initiative is termed as 'R-learning' program and the government is looking forward to including robot teachers in 8400 kindergartens and pre-schools in another two years.

These robots are designed by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and the height of each robot is 3.3 feet. The robots will move around the classroom, speak with children in English, read books and dance to the tune of the music. Dubbed ‘Engkey’, the robot’s face is a TV display panel, displaying the 'avatar face' of a Caucasian lady. It conveys instructions, facial responses and replies of an English teacher present in a remote place. In this project, the teacher is in Philippines and can interact effectively with students.

The developers have reported that they will research on enhancing the teaching efficiency of robots till it can cope with that of human beings. The robots have received positive response from adults for learning a new language since they feel comfortable  learning from robots.

KIST has also designed automated robot instructors for teaching English as well as pronunciation. But it can train students based on pre-developed scripted dialogues.


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