Intelligent assistants in language learning: an analysis of features and limitations

Kukulska-Hulme, A. & Lee, H. “Intelligent assistants in language learning: an analysis of features and limitations.” In CALL for widening participation: short papers from EUROCALL 2020, edited by Karen-Margrete Frederiksen, Sanne Larsen, Linda Bradley and Sylvie Thou√ęsny, 172-176 .2020

This short article presents the findings of a multidisciplinary literature review of research studies conducted over the past 10 years examining the development and potential applications of Intelligent Assistants, including chatbots, avatars and conversational agents such as Siri and Alexa, in the field of education.

The article focusses on the features and limitations of Intelligent Assistants to support language learning. Based on their analysis of over 170 studies the authors find that Intelligent Assistants have the potential to support language learners, at all learning levels. Using an Intelligent Assistant provides learners with opportunities for extensive simple conversation and pronunciation practice, anytime and place, and, since the conversation is taking place privately, can help reduce the anxiety that many learners experience when attempting to speak in a new language.

The authors note that research is needed to learn more about how Intelligent Assistants can be effectively deployed in the language classroom and what the role of the instructor could be in supporting learners to make best use of these tools.

To see a chatbot in action visit:  and click on the icon at the bottom right.  The Orientation to Ontario chatbot provides basic information about living and working in Ontario. The chatbot allows users to chat in text, and to input questions verbally.

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