Mr Winston: A motivating tutor for your students!
Learning English is a very long process. As we stated in the previous article about Mr. Winston, English is one of the key competences for employability and it is the most taught foreign language in Europe. Since the last article, we had the opportunity to interview some experts and gather information about chatbots and their educational advantages.
The first output of this project, our booklet on the advantages of chatbots in language education, is now available to download on the project’s website! It will be translated into all the partners’ languages in the following months. In this booklet, you will find the results of the partners’ research and interviews with experts. The advantages of using such a teaching assistant are presented and explained in detail for all teachers and potential users. The partners also gathered some examples of existing chatbots, and more specifically, chatbots in education. As expected, the number of language tutoring chatbots found by each partner was rather low, even though this research helped us realize the need for more inclusive tutoring chatbots in all fields of education.
The interviews with educational and chatbot experts clearly showed that young learners are more and more willing to find digital resources to learn independently. Some even said that it would be a way for the teachers and students to “speak the same language”, which also shows that this technology is a great way for students to have fun while they are learning, using a tool they are familiar with.
The personalized experience was also found to be a very good way to adapt to each student’s level. As many students tend to procrastinate, the chatbot will send them a daily task to make sure they remember to practice every day. This also allows to divide the material to learn, only focusing on one topic per day. Thanks to the chatbot, the students will not only have an immediate feedback but will also feel more comfortable to make mistakes and try again as there will be no judgement nor time limit.
For teachers as well, the chatbot will be great to offload repetitive tasks and focus on more challenging ones. As the chatbot will help students after school hours, the teacher will know that their students are practicing every day (or almost) and will be able to see how it helps them progress throughout the school year. The lessons will also benefit from this as students who feel less confident about asking questions will be able to use the chatbot’s FAQs to understand what was previously taught and be redirected to relevant exercises to practice and thus retain the information longer.
The chatbot’s personality is also very important for the success of such an experiment. Having a fun and encouraging tutor will help the students be more motivated and engaged. Having their exercises displayed on a messaging app with images, GIFs and memes to render the whole process funnier is a great way to make those daily revisions more of a game than a school activity. The project partners have all created and gathered a lot of multimedia content for the chatbot to make the students laugh and feel encouraged.
The chatbot’s personality and interactions are currently being designed and tested with the partners. The platform used to develop Mr. Winston is Chatfuel, which allows us to create this tutor without coding skills. The partners have tested the scheduling of the daily tasks and the integration of multimedia content in the chatbot as the diversity of the content’s presentation is very important to help and engage all students, especially those with learning disorders.