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Learning with AI

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November 20, 2017
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Artificial intelligence has the potential for infinite uses and possibilities – is learning and education one of them?

Microsoft has introduced an AI-powered IOS App that teaches and helps you learn Chinese. The AI is trained to recognise and score on pronunciation and pick up what the user is trying to say along with sample audio on how the phrases are supposed to be pronounced. Microsoft has stated that the app utilises ‘a suite of AI tools’ for example, deep neural networks that are conditioned into identifying that users are trying to say and evaluate pronunciation. The AI is programmed based on real data from native speakers and is therefore accurate and genuine.

A cool way to learn considering that learning a language is all about practicing and engaging in conversations. AI allows the user to practice out loud and receive feedback as if it were a real teacher. The goal of the app is to equip learners with the skills to hold real conversations with native speakers and make learning practical. The app has two modes: beginner and intermediate. The beginner mode features basic phrases and sentences with chapters that allow users to practice recite at the end. The intermediate mode is a similar structure but includes more real-life phrases such as ordering food at a restaurant or asking for directions. Users verbally pronounce phrases and are provided feedback by giving you a score and indicating any words that need improvement. There are also visual cues and

AI is proving to be a useful technological development in making learning accessible and affordable, you can just learn for free from an app rather than pay for a language lesson. This encourages many people to take up learning a language as a hobby or out of interest, which stimulates the brain and produces health benefits and reduces the risk of diseases such as dementia. Another successful language education app is Duolingo which uses AI in the form of chatbots and isn’t as sophisticated as Microsoft’s technology. However, it has acquired thousands of users and is a great tool.

Jump onto your smartphone and there you have your own personal language coach. The app cannot completely replace human language teachers but in the future, AI can be further tweaked to become more accurate and realistic. For a complex language such as Chinese, learning just characters and grammar is not enough, verbal practice is key since slightly differing tones in pronunciation can alter the meaning of the word. This is where AI steps in and becomes an on-demand language coach.

Rebecca Luong

A business graduate from Monash University, Rebecca Luong is a motivated and passionate marketer infatuated with all aspects of digital marketing. Her main areas of interest are SEO and social media. Rebecca strives to use her broad skills and knowledge to deliver quality content and marketing and to inspire others to realise the power of digital marketing.

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