Bilingual toddlers thanks to robot

Tilburg University has joined a project that will develop the first social robot that teaches a language programme to toddlers. The little kids can learn a second language, in this case English or Dutch. They learn this new language through a playful and interactive method. There is an ambition to eventually start a series of language programmes, in which multiple subjects will be taught (like numbers and shapes). The university announces the project.

Researchers from the Tilburg Center for Cognition and Communication, located at Tilburg University, are developing the social robot. They are working with a consortium of European universities and companies. The project, named L2TOR, is being financed by the European Commission. The execution of the plan is in the hands of different European universities (In the Netherlands, the cooperating universities are Tilburg University and University Utrecht). Two companies that already have experience on building robots are also part of the team. These companies have developed and marketed the NAO robot.

Linguistic toddlers
The motivation for this project is globalisation. Learning a second language is becoming more important. The period in which a child is sensitive to learning a new language starts when they are still a toddler. It is at this time that they can learn a new language.

Five different day-care centers in Tilburg have been selected for this project. The parents of the children have given their consent, because they want to support this research. The first interaction between the robot and children has already been documented. These files prove that the toddlers react positively to the robot. The first research results are expected to appear in august.

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