What is it about?

We summarize the efforts done in academia since the 1980s to use computers and automated systems to help learners practice a foreign language meaningfully. These include talking robots, text interactions with chatbots, and spoken conversations with dialogue systems. We propose a conceptual framework for all these efforts and a typology of systems, reviewing their main contributions. Finally, we synthesize the results of previous studies on how effective these systems are for learning a language.

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Why is it important?

This is the first comprehensive review of all the systems using dialogue with an automated agent (robot, chatbot, dialogue system, conversational agent, non-player character...) to learn a foreign language.

Perspectives

I believe our definition, inclusion of all key terms used to describe these systems, and discussion of the different features and characteristics of systems are providing a clearer picture of the domain for researchers and developers. The typology we propose can probably be simplified and summarized into the 4 main types of systems (more usable than the 7 types of dialogues). Our review of previous studies on effectiveness is offering an adequate summary of what we know works, for what, and for who. Our to-be-published meta-analysis of dialogue systems for language learning (in Language Learning & Technology, 2022, but available as a preprint) offers a more precise quantitative evaluation of these effects.

Serge Bibauw
Universidad Central del Ecuador

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This page is a summary of: Discussing with a computer to practice a foreign language: research synthesis and conceptual framework of dialogue-based CALL, Computer Assisted Language Learning, February 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/09588221.2018.1535508.
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