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Implementation of an AI chatbot as an English conversation partner in EFL speaking classes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 April 2022

Hyejin Yang
Affiliation:
Chung-Ang University, Republic of Korea (hjyang1112@gmail.com)
Heyoung Kim
Affiliation:
Chung-Ang University, Republic of Korea (englishnet@cau.ac.kr)
Jang Ho Lee
Affiliation:
Chung-Ang University, Republic of Korea (jangholee@cau.ac.kr)
Dongkwang Shin
Affiliation:
Gwangju National University of Education, Republic of Korea (sdhera@gmail.com)

Abstract

With the growth of chatbots, concerns about implementing artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots in educational settings have consistently arisen, especially for the purpose of language learning. This study introduced a task-based voice chatbot called “Ellie”, newly developed by the researchers, and examined the appropriateness of its task design and performance as an English conversation partner and students’ perceptions on using it in EFL class. Korean EFL learners (N = 314) aged 10–15 years performed three speaking tasks with Ellie in their school classroom. The participants took 9.63 turns per session on average using the first 1,000-word band, indicating that the chatbot highly encouraged students to engage in conversation, which rarely occurs in general EFL classes in Korea. The high task success rates (88.3%) showed the design appropriateness of both L2 tasks and operational intents in terms of users’ successful understanding and completeness of the given chatbot tasks. The participants’ responses to the survey not only supported the positive potential of the chatbot in EFL settings but also revealed limitations to be resolved. Future suggestions for advancing and implementing AI chatbots in EFL classrooms are discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning

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