The Use of AI Speakers in English Education
The Use of AI Speakers in English Education
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  • 승인 2019.06.12 09:00
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(Photo = Lee Yoo-jeong)
(Photo = Lee Yoo-jeong)

Because of the fourth industrial revolution, AI speakers are now used a lot in our lives, and will soon be used in the classroom to teach English. AI speaker is an abbreviation for artificial intelligence speaker, literally adding AI to an existing speaker. In addition to helping us listen to music or to the radio, it also provides functions such as voice recognition, voice search, and voice translation.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said that they will provide AI speakers in English education in ten elementary schools for demonstration purposes. AI-based English education will be conducted in a way that when a student speaks in English on an AI speaker, it recognizes the student’s level of English proficiency and then continues dialogue based on various learning materials that teachers have stored in the server in advance. When AI speakers are used in classroom like this, the advantage is that English education can be more tailored to each student’s ability.

Currently, AI speakers are often used in our industrial markets. Many companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple are trying to develop this technology. Also, in Korea, SK, KT, and Samsung have big interest in it. By using our voice, we can easily handle everything without using our hands. For example, if you say to AI speaker, “How is the weather today?,” it will respond and give the status of the weather for today.  That is why AI speakers became popular.

Through the fourth industrial revolution, even in education, people try to use AI speakers in classrooms like in Seoul elementary school. Also, many companies like SK and LG U+ develop and  show English learning content that helps children learn English anywhere at any time they want.

Seowon News asked some questions to Professor Park Chang-bum, belonging to the English Education Department at Seowon University about using AI speakers in English Education.

-SN: Is there an educational effect on elementary school students when they are taught English by listening to the voice from the AI speakers?
-Park Chang-bum: It has been experimented with only a little, and I have not really experienced it in English education, so I don’t know exactly. However, in my opinion, I think it has an educational effect. AI speakers can educate without restrictions of time and space. Since native English teachers are not required, it seems good that programmed speakers can provide education at home. Also, it can be less burdensome than talking to a person. When speaking grammatically wrong or using embarrassing expressions, children may feel less repulsive because they are talking to the machine. On the other hand, there can be negative effects. First, even the native pronunciation is limited and not perfect because the sounds are combined by the program. Also, I think the level of dialogue is below or the same as one who is at a beginner level. It can be helpful to learn beginner’s conversation like people did in the past using tapes or audio to practice speaking to children. However, if children practice only with speakers, and they are familiar with only speakers, their social skills can be diminished. Eventually, they might be afraid of speaking with foreigners. The most important thing is that children need an English education expert who can give extra help on the side.

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