The Teacher's Role in Robot-assisted Language Learning and its Impact on Classroom Ecology




Classroom ecology, Primary school children, Robot-assisted language learning, Teacher role


In recent years, social robots have emerged as a new teaching aid in foreign language (FL) classrooms. Interaction in FL classrooms usually takes place between teachers and learners or among learners. However, this constellation of interactions changes when a robot enters the classroom. The robot’s role in the classroom has been studied previously, however, in this article we examine how initial encounters between a social robot and learners occur, focusing on the teacher’s role during these encounters. Additionally, we examine how children seek help or assurance from their teacher when interacting with the robot. Research data consists of video recorded in FL classrooms in primary schools in Finland in 2019. The primary school learners (N = 22) who participated in this study ranged in age from 10 to 13 years. The results show that during the robot-assisted language learning (RALL) interaction, the teacher had several roles: she validated children’s contributions, guided or mediated the discussion, encouraged the children to speak with the robot, and provided technical support. The results also suggest that the teacher’s role in RALL classrooms, while not necessarily central, is essential to ensure smooth interactions between the robot and learners.


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Author Biographies

Minna Maijala, University of Turku

School of Languages and Translation Studies

Maarit Mutta, University of Turku

School of Languages and Translation Studies


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