Robots to Help Immigrant Children Learn German
Researchers at Bielefeld University plan to use the humanoid robot ‘Nao’ for language training
According to the Federal Statistical Office, one-third of children under the age of five in Germany come from immigrant families. Could technical assistants be used to help prepare immigrant children for school and teach them the new language? L2TOR, the new project financed by the European Union, is researching that very question. The project will launch in January 2016 and will run for three years. One research group at the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) of Bielefeld University wants to provide tutoring systems with Tablet-PCs and robots that can assist in language learning. To do this, researchers are developing modules that recognize a child’s language abilities and motivation so that the robot can react individually to each child.
Kopp’s team is cooperating with day care centers from around the Bielefeld region, where researchers are testing how their robots perform as language tutors. The company Aldebaran from Paris is a project partner who is producing the humanoid robot Nao. Combined with a Tablet PC, Nao is designed to lead children through a language course. “When it comes to teaching the basics of a language, a robot can also have a positive impact,” explains Dr. Kirsten Bergmann, who works in Kopp’s research group. “It is important that the robot recognizes how the child being taught feels, and whether he or she is frustrated or confused, for example. We program the robot so that it can shape its interaction with the child so that he or she is being supported in the best way possible.”
Bielefeld University, Plymouth University in the United Kingdom, Tilburg University and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and Koç University in Turkey, along with industry partners Aldebaran Robotics in France and Qatar Belgium Modern Technologies (QBMT) in Belgium are cooperating on this project. While CITEC researchers are working with children in Germany, colleagues at the other partner universities are working on language tutoring for children in England, Turkey, and the Netherlands. The European Union is funding the project with a total of three million Euro, 355,000 Euro of which is allocated to Bielefeld.
More information is available online:
The research group “Social Cognitive Systems”: www.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de/ags/soa
New Scientist: Robot language tutors to get kids up to speed before school: www.newscientist.com/article/mg22830492-500-robot-language-tutors-to-get-kids-up-to-speed-before-school
Prof. Dr. Stefan Kopp, Bielefeld University
Faculty of Technology
Telephone: 0521 106-12144
Dr. Kirsten Bergmann, Bielefeld University
Faculty of Technology
Telephone: 0521 106-12143