Studying English is a popular hobby in China: We piloted Elias robot in a Chinese language school in October

Elias meeting the kids from Singapore International English in Jinan for the first time

– Robots are a great addition to language learning for kids, says Victoria, The founder of Singapore International English language school in China. Elias solution could be used in various industries which need to learn a foreign language in an interactive and fun way, including schools, hospitals, service industries like restaurants, hotels, and trading companies, Victoria says.

How was Elias Robot received in Singapore International English?

Elias language learning solution was piloted in Singaporean International English at the end of October. The sessions were held in Jinan City in a kindergarten and at a schoolkids’ language school. Kids were excited to repeat phrases after the robot, and they were ready to start using the robot on a daily basis in the school. The school session was documented for the research project run by the Technical University of Tampere.

Kids were very excited to meet Elias and they were eager to get connection with the robot. They wanted to repeat the words Elias said again and again.

Small kids in kindergarten were eager to touch the robot. This observation was very useful for Elias Robot product development. Small kids were also interested in _doing_ things the robot asked them _to say_, which is very useful user behavior data as well.

In China, robotics is currently being utilized to do mundane and repetitive work like sorting parcels in warehouses. Teaching requires more skills, lesson planning and interaction. Even though we can see online that there are robots teaching in kindergarten, they are still at an experimental stage. According to Victoria, they will probably need to be more evolved before they could take over the teaching responsibilities of teachers.

Ability to speak English is not a skill an average Chinese person holds, not even in big cities or among young people. Rare are the restaurants where you can order in English. Even international hotels’ don’t have English speaking staff. So it is obvious that China needs tools to engage its residents into language learning. The progressive parents send their kids to practice English after school. Studying English is the most popular hobby in China. Also in Jinan the language school students came to language school after the official schoolday.

From a Finnish perspective, it feels very ambitious. One of the parents even mentioned that her kid has only one hour free time in a week! During that free time, they watch live streaming broadcasts made by other kids, just like Finnish kids. Mobile games like Angry Birds are also very popular in China. It would be wonderful to give kids one more toy to play during the English lessons.

Watch videos about Elias robot adventures in China in our YouTube channel.

Singaporea International English leaders were hosting the Elias robot delegation in Jinan in the end of October. The school director interviewed in this article, the Victoria, on the right.

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