Learner and teacher perspectives on robot-led L2 conversation practice

Olov Engwall, José Lopes, Ronald Cumbal, Gustav Berndtson, Ruben Lindström, Patrik Ekman, Eric Hartmanis, Emelie Jin, Ella Johnston, Gara Tahir, Michael Mekonnen

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Abstract

This article focuses on designing and evaluating conversation practice in a second language (L2) with a robot that employs human spoken and non-verbal interaction strategies. Based on an analysis of previous work and semi-structured interviews with L2 learners and teachers, recommendations for robot-led conversation practice for adult learners at intermediate level are first defined, focused on language learning, on the social context, on the conversational structure and on verbal and visual aspects of the robot moderation. Guided by these recommendations, an experiment is set up, in which 12 pairs of L2 learners of Swedish interact with a robot in short social conversations. These robot-learner interactions are evaluated through post-session interviews with the learners, teachers' ratings of the robot's behaviour and analyses of the video-recorded conversations, resulting in a set of guidelines for robot-led conversation practice: (1) societal and personal topics increase the practice's meaningfulness for learners; (2) strategies and methods for providing corrective feedback during conversation practice need to be explored further; (3) learners should be encouraged to support each other if the robot has difficulties adapting to their linguistic level; (4) the robot should establish a social relationship by contributing with its own story, remembering the participants' input, and making use of non-verbal communication signals; and (5) improvements are required regarding naturalness and intelligibility of text-to-speech synthesis, in particular its speed, if it is to be used for conversations with L2 learners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalReCALL
Early online date28 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • conversation practice
  • educational robots
  • L2 speaking
  • multiparty interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Computer Science Applications

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