How artificial intelligence is disrupting language learning
Artificial intelligence is completely reshaping the language learning industry, and we think it’s really exciting.
While humans will always be critical for teaching and understanding, the use of technology in the field of linguistics is growing and could make communication across language barriers increasingly more efficient and effective.
The popular app Duolingo is a pioneer in machine learning Artificial intelligence and the future of language acquisition as a whole.
“AI plays a big role in our ability to scale high-quality education to everyone who needs it,” said von Ahn, Duolingo’s chief executive. “We started this company with a mission to make education free and accessible to everyone in the world. At the time, there was no good way to learn a language for free.”
Learning a language using AI can be really fun, too, due to the game-like user interface that many existing language education applications and software engage. While technology is increasingly making the experience more interactive (think: earbuds that can translate what you see as you walk down the street, enhancing your vocabulary), most applications today still follow a somewhat traditional, textbook model of language apprehension.
How does it work?
How artificial intelligence work to teach people a new language? In Duolingo’s case, their artificial intelligence program began in 2016. The company released “Duolingo Bots,” a service that allows robots to talk to you intelligently in the language you are learning. The company hopes that by 2020 their bots will be as advanced as having a high quality personal bespoke tutor. Users actually teach the bots what it is that they want and/or need to learn. The bots can understand and respond to thousands of prompts, and they are constantly learning and improving.
In order to take advantage of the intelligence of AI, users just have to communicate directly with bots that are programmed to respond in the language they are being addressed in. The bot will respond in kind in said language. This means that if I am studying Spanish and don’t have the opportunity to meet regularly with a native speaker, I can at least speak to the bot and receive intelligible responses, that allow me to practice. In addition, the bot will learn from the queries I submit.
An easier kickoff
This technology can also be an excellent tool for students who might be a bit shy. In fact, there is a lot of tabu or embarrassment surrounding communicating with native speakers of a language when learning, so this model could be a great way to help those language learners. Knowing that one is communicating with AI may lead to an easing of anxiety. Imagine being able to practice not only writing, but also speaking, with a non-judgmental, non-human entity in order to perfect your vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar! We look forward to seeing how this technology will impact the language education industry, and will certainly continue to play with the various chatbots that assist with linguistic apprehension that are out there!
Have you tried any chatbot yet? Are you studying a foreign language? What are your thoughts regarding AI in language learning? We are always happy to hear from our readers. If you are interested in learning more, please be in touch!