Researchers at Tilburg center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC) at Tilburg University are developing the new social robot called L2TOR ("el tutor") that should help small kids to learn a foreign language. It is aimed to teach English to native Dutch, German and Turkish speaking kids, it should also learn Dutch and German to immigrant kids who are speaking Turkish. Even though the robot is relatively cute, some kids are scared. On the other hand, natural curiosity of small kids usually overcomes the fear. Many kids react positively from the beginning.
The researchers selected five preschools and daycare centers. The parents were asked if they want their kids to participate in the first experiment and quite a large group of parents agreed. These kids are three years old. The first experiment is running now and it should end very soon in the beginning of July. The main task was to investigate how to communicate with such small kids and how to make the interaction between the robot and a child safer and more pleasant. Three-years old kids were chosen because they are learning foreign languages very easily.
The project is funded by European Commission and it should be running until December 2018. Because L2TOR is a robot, it can be easily reprogrammed to be able to teach more languages.