The L2TOR project capitalises on recent developments in human-robot interaction in which the use of social robots is explored in the context of teaching and tutoring. Social robots have been shown to have marked benefits over screen-based tutoring technologies, and have demonstrable positive impacts on motivation in learners and their learning outcomes. L2TOR focuses on the domain of second language learning in early childhood: due to increased mobility of European citizens and increasing internationalisation, most children in Europe will be required to fluently use two or more languages. As language acquisition benefits from early, personalised and interactive tutoring, current language tutoring delivery is often ill-equipped to deal with this. As resources are insufficient to offer one-to-one tutoring with (near) native speakers in educational and home contexts, L2TOR will further the science and technology of language tutoring robots, with a strong focus on multimodal interactive tutoring for young children (4 years of age).
L2TOR will focus on native speaking Dutch, German and Turkish children learning English. In addition, Turkish immigrant children in the Netherlands and Germany will be supported by a robot in acquiring Dutch and German. To realise this ambition L2TOR needs to address both technical aspects -such as multimodal interaction, human-robot interaction management and social signal processing-, pedagogical aspects -such as exploring the pedagogy of social robots and the use of social robot to assist in language tutoring- and developmental psychology aspects -such as understanding how children learn a first and second language from others and how this can be transposed to learning from robots.
The L2TOR project addresses the following four objectives:
1- Study the science and technology of social robots for second language tutoring with children in a preschool setting. The outcome of this objective will be the demonstration of an embodied digital learning environment, consisting of a tutor robot and supporting technologies, which can interact with children in an engaging manner to support children’s second language learning. This system will be adaptive such that it can be personalized for children at specific levels of linguistic competency, thus optimising the effectiveness of language tutoring.
2- Define the pedagogy of robot assisted language tutoring. The learning targets will be identified by designing specific lessons in all three educational domains based on pedagogical theories. The effectiveness of the L2TOR robot will be evaluated by assessing children’s performance learning the second language from L2TOR.
3- Determine design principles of developing a social robot for (second) language tutoring with a clear commercial focus. This objective will result in a cookbook for industrial stakeholders on how to design a robot assisted tutoring system with commercial potential.
4- Innovate multimodal interaction management for robotic tutors. L2TOR will move multimodal interaction management, including its constituent components involved in interpreting and generating multimodal signals, away from remote controlled robots or statically scripted systems, towards dynamically adaptive tutors which respond to the learner’s profile and the ongoing interaction.