L2TOR (pronounced ‘el tutor’) is a scientific research project, called Second Language Tutoring using Social Robots, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission. The project aims to design a child-friendly tutor robot that can be used to support teaching preschool children a second language (L2) by interacting with children in their social and referential world.
L2TOR aims to design a child-friendly tutor robot that can be used to support teaching preschool children a second language (L2) by interacting with children in their social and referential world. In particular, the project will focus on teaching English as L2 to native speakers of Dutch, German and Turkish, and teaching Dutch and German as L2 to immigrant children speaking Turkish as a native language. The L2TOR robot will be designed to interact naturally with children aged four years old in both the second language and the child’s native language. The robot’s social behaviour will be based on how human tutors interact with children, and will not only use verbal communication, but also nonverbal communication, such as gestures and other forms of body language. The robot will be able to adaptively respond to children’s actions and engage with them in tutoring interactions. The child will be provided with increasingly complex stimuli and utterances in the second language, as well as appropriate feedback that supports the child’s language development. The L2TOR robot will be evaluated in the Netherlands (Dutch → English, Turkish → Dutch), Germany (German → English, Turkish → German) and Turkey (Turkish → English).
The robot will be designed as a tool to support preschool teachers by allowing children at risk of language delay, or those learning English as a foreign language, to spend time with the robot in one-to-one tutoring sessions. As it is currently unrealistic to design a directly marketable tutor robot, the project aims to develop a set of guidelines to aid the design of future tutoring robots for commercial use. From these guidelines the project will also develop a demonstration of such a tutoring robot that is evaluated in preschools.
This L2TOR system will be designed and evaluated for three educational domains typically used at preschools, and will incorporate language-based tutoring about: 1) numbers and pre-mathematical concepts, 2) spatial language, and 3) basic vocabulary learning through storytelling. For each domain, three lessons will be defined in specific domain-relevant language, such as counting numbers or spatial prepositions (in, on, over, etc.), which will be taught to the child.