Universiteit Leiden

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Investigating the effectiveness of a social robot supporting children’s L2 learning

Thursday 2 May 2019
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Social robots are increasingly used in education, including L2 learning. However, previous results on the effectiveness of social robots for L2 teaching are contradictory. I will present a study carried out within the L2TOR (pronounced as “el tutor”) project, in which we investigated the use of a robot that supports children’s second language (L2) learning. In our study, Dutch preschoolers played L2 English vocabulary games on a tablet: (1) by themselves; (2) with a Nao robot which used deictic gestures; or (3) with a Nao robot which used both deictic and iconic gestures. Children in a fourth (control) condition did not play language games, but danced with the robot. These conditions allowed us to investigate the effectiveness of our language games against a baseline, whether a robot has added value in L2 vocabulary learning as compared to a tablet-only condition, and whether specific behaviours of a robot (i.e., using iconic gestures) benefit learning. Moreover, we investigated whether individual differences in language and attention skills (i.e., L1 vocabulary, phonological memory, and selective attention) moderated the effect of the robot. I will show examples of the language games children played with the robot and I will conclude by discussing implications of our findings and current limitations of using robots in L2 learning.

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