Robotic Language Learning Companions

Personal Robots


Young children learn language not through listening alone, but through active communication with a social actor. Cultural immersion and context are also key in long-term language development. We are developing robotic conversational partners and hybrid physical/digital environments for language learning. For example, the robot Sophie helped young children learn French through a food-sharing game. The game was situated on a digital tablet embedded in a cafe table. Sophie modeled how to order food and as the child practiced the new vocabulary, the food was delivered via digital assets onto the table's surface. A teacher or parent can observe and shape the interaction remotely via a digital tablet interface to adjust the robot's conversation and behavior to support the learner. More recently, we have been examining how social nonverbal behaviors impact children's perceptions of the robot as an informant and social companion.