All of the robots are pre-programmed to “sing songs and play alphabet games with the children”, and any added lessons are given by the Filipino teacher through the electronic channels. The robots may be sent to the more rural areas of South Korea that normally shun foreign English teachers.
As Kim Mi-Young explains, not only do children like the robots way of teaching, calling them “cute and interesting”, adults have found them less intimidating when learning English, and “they may feel less nervous talking to robots than a real person.”
She stressed that the robots are still getting tested and that they are not out to replace human teachers with robots. However, “having robots in the classroom makes the students more active in participating, especially shy ones afraid of speaking out to human teachers,” said Kim.
As more testing is done, and making the robots more affordable as well, there might be more robots in the classroom in the near future. Right now the cost of the four-month pilot program stands at 1.58 billion won, or 1.37 million US dollars. For now, Sagong insisted that the robots “largely back up human teachers but would eventually have a bigger role.”
The goal now is to get affordable robots that are pre-programmed for English, math, science and other key subjects. KIST inventors and marketers want them to be “an efficient tool to hone language skills for many people who feel nervous about conversing with flesh-and-blood foreigners.”
This invention has taken virtual learning to a whole new level for the next generation. Even for those that are learning later in life, like adults learning to speak English for the first time, this is a huge development, not only for education, but for robotics as well.