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Robots to help teach English in Japan

The Japanese government has announced plans to use robots in school classrooms as part of a new approach to improve its population’s English proficiency, and take advantage of an expected increase in tourism.

Robots will alleviate concerns learners are being judged for incorrect English. Photo: Andy KellyRobots will alleviate concerns learners are being judged for incorrect English. Photo: Andy Kelly

English has become a focus for Japan as it prepares for the RWC and Olympic Games

Rolling out in 2019, the trial will see robots implemented in 500 schools throughout Japan, and join a number already using the technology as part of their curriculum.

“Students can learn efficiently and pronounce without hesitation by using a robot”

“As globalisation develops, it is assumed that communication skills in foreign languages will be required not only in businesses and careers, but in all kinds of situations over a lifetime,” said Taichi Kaneshiro from the ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology.

“Especially English will be required in many situations [and] Japan has been promoting reformation of English education.”

English has become a focus for Japan in recent years, establishing several partnerships globally to improve proficiency in the lead up to the country hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Students will be able to converse with the robots, which Kaneshiro, who works as the director of the office for promoting foreign language education, said would alleviate some of the pressures of in-person delivery.

Speaking with The PIE News, he added that the robots would improve students’ listening, reading, speaking and writing skills, and would be used in conjunction with other technologies, including study apps.

“It is confirmed that students can learn efficiently and pronounce without hesitation by using a robot independently or in smaller numbers of students.”

The robots would also help in regions with lower numbers of assistant language teachers and remote areas with insufficient management systems, he added.

Language learning apps are increasingly using artificial intelligence to teach language and remove learner’s concerns over being judged for incorrect usage.

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