'Learning Pragmatics through Chatbot: the case of Korean'
Knowledge Exchange Fellow:
Professor Jieun Kiaer | Faculty of Oriental Studies | University of Oxford
This project engages with state schools in England to develop a new technology to promote children’s language learning abilities. By using Dialogue-based CALL technology, it aims to develop a fun and effective way to support British youth learners of Korean. By examining the possibility of using pupils’ interest in computers and apps to motivate their study of Korean, it will increase engagement with non-specialist audiences beyond what is possible with traditional teaching resources like textbooks.
In the initial stages of the project, I will collaborate with the Korean e-learning company Eggbun. Eggbun are known for their commercial available chatbot for learning Korean, available through smartphone devices. Drawing upon Eggbun’s expert technical knowledge of chatbot development, a new application will be developed to allow Korean learners to practice their language skills. Unlike Eggbun’s existing product, the chatbot developed as part of this project will focus specifically on socio-pragmatic aspects of language learning.
After the application prototype is ready, I will collaborate with the schools Hertswood Academy, Oxford Academy, St. Ebbe’s Primary School, and Cheney school. I will ask students to engage with the application and to provide feedback on how it affects their motivation to learn Korean and their acquisition of Korean pragmatics knowledge. State schools, as the major collaboration partners, stand to benefit from the project by aiding pupils’ language learning in a context where they are currently under-resourced. As public sector budget cuts have reduced the resources available to schools for teaching languages, this has been producing a sharp decline in foreign language exam entries. I aim to use innovative technology to help address the existing lack of teaching resources and to spark children’s interest again. To motivate children’s learning, the teaching content of the chatbot will focus on the ‘real life’ situations that students currently feel are neglected in language lessons. Examples include completing roleplays of clothes shopping or buying a train ticket in Korea. Additionally, the chatbot exercises will reference ‘Korean wave’ content like Korean music or dramas. By drawing on students’ interest in pop culture, we hope to make completing the exercises fun and thus motivate their study more. In this way, the project will act to promote equal and ethical language learning for the growing generation. After the chatbot has been successfully evaluated, we will further collaborate with Oxfordshire library in a joint exhibition at the IF Oxford festival. In an interactive workshop, we will demonstrate the application and explain how its use was received in schools.