The Use of Humanoid Robots with Multilingual Interaction Skills in Teaching a Foreign Language: Opportunities, Research Challenges and Future Research Directions

  • Ayse Tuna School of Foreign Languages, Trakya University, Edirne, Turkey
  • Gurkan Tuna Department of Computer Programming, Trakya University, Edirne, Turkey


Since a humanoid robot does not get tired regardless of how many mistakes a student makes, and because it can be equipped with novel teaching techniques and updated with the most current knowledge, it can be useful for achieving many educational goals. The rationale behind this is that it has been shown in the literature that robots are more useful as teaching aids than computers or other instructional tools, as they can mimic human responses. Furthermore, humans, especially children, prefer robot interaction to other interaction types. Adults generally struggle to learn a foreign language, but this is true of some students, too. With their multilingual interaction capabilities, their ability to provide real-time feedback, and their humanlike physical shape, some types of humanoid robots can be of great assistance to students in learning a foreign language. The use of humanoid robots leads to a personal connection with the students, and this can help overcome issues related to shyness, reluctance, frustration and lack of confidence that may emerge in dealing with a human teacher. Moreover, as humanoid robots can be programmed to know specifically what each individual student needs to learn, they can be quite useful for one-on-one speaking activities. Considering the many possibilities that can be offered by information and communication technology tools, particularly by humanoid robots, this paper reviews the roles and functions of humanoid robots in teaching a foreign language, presents novel approaches in this domain, provides research challenges, and finally outlines future research directions.


Abildgaard, J. R., & Scharfe, H. (2012). A Geminoid as lecturer. In S. S. Ge, O. Khatib, J. J. Cabibihan, R. Simmons, & M. A. Williams (Eds.), Social Robotics. ICSR 2012. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (vol. 7621). Berlin & Heidelberg: Springer.

Ackerman, E. (2016, February 08). Study: Nobody wants social robots that look like humans because they threaten our identity. Retrieved from

Alemi, M., Meghdari, A., & Ghazisaedy, M. (2014). Employing humanoid robots for teaching English language in Iranian junior high-schools. International Journal of Humanoid Robotics, 11(3), 1–25.

Alemi, M., Meghdari, A., Basiri, N. M., & Taheri, A. (2015). The effect of applying humanoid robots as teacher assistants to help Iranian autistic pupils learn English as a foreign language. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 9388, 1–10.

Alemi, M., Meghdari, A., & Ghazisaedy, M. (2015). The impact of social robotics on L2 learners’ anxiety and attitude in English vocabulary acquisition. International Journal of Social Robotics, 7(4), 523–535.

Alimisis, D. (2012). Robotics in education & education in robotics: Shifting focus from technology to pedagogy. In D. Obdrzálek (Ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Robotics in Education (pp. 7–14). Retrieved from

Al-Khulaidi, R. A., Bakr, N. H. B. A., Fauzi, N. M., & Akmeliawati, R. (2019). SignBot, sign-language performing robot, based on sequential motion of servo motor arrays. In J. H. Kim et al. (Eds.), Robot Intelligence Technology and Applications 5 (pp. 239–249). Retrieved from

Ateş-Şen, A. B. & Küntay, A. C. (2015). Children’s sensitivity to caregiver cues and the role of adult feedback in the development of referential communication. In L. Serratrice & S. E. M. Allen (Eds.), The Acquisition of Reference (pp. 241–262). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Available languages — Aldebaran documentation. (2019). Retrieved from

Beautiful lifelike robot teaches Japanese in Vietnam. (2014, January 17). Retrieved from

Belpaeme, T., Kennedy, J., Ramachandran, A., Scassellati, B., & Tanaka, F. (2018). Social robots for education: A review. Science Robotics, 3(21), 1–9. doi:10.1126/scirobotics.aat5954

Belpaeme, T., Kennedy, J., Baxter, P., Vogt, P., Krahmer, E. J., Kopp, S., … Deblieck, T. (2015). L2TOR—second language tutoring using social robots. In Proceedings of First International Workshop on Educational Robots.

Belpaeme, T., Vogt, P., Van den Berghe, R., Bergmann, K., Göksun, T., … Pandey, A. K. (2018). Guidelines for designing social robots as second language tutors. International Journal of Social Robotics, 10(3), 325–341.

Chang, C. W., Lee, J. H., Chao, P. Y., Wang, C. Y., & Chen, G. D. (2010). Exploring the possibility of using humanoid robots as instructional tools for teaching a second language in primary school. Educational Technology & Society, 13(2), 13–24.

Çelik, S., & Kasapoğlu, H. (2014). Implementing the recent curricular changes to English language instruction in Turkey: Opinions and concerns of elementary school administrators. South African Journal of Education, 34(2), 842.

Dautenhahn, K. (2007). Socially intelligent robots: dimensions of human-robot interaction. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 362(1480), 679–704.

Deng, F., & Zou, Q. (2016). A study on whether the adults’ second language acquisition is easy or not—from the perspective of children’s native language acquisition. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 6(4), 776–780.

Dillenbourg, P. (1999). What do you mean by “collaborative learning”? In P. Dillenbourg (Ed.), Collaborative-learning: Cognitive and computational approaches (pp. 1–19). Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Dominey P. F., & Dodane, C. (2004). Indeterminacy in language acquisition: The role of child directed speech and joint attention. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 17(2-3), 121–145. (2019). Retrieved from

Erber N. P. (1975). Auditory-visual perception of speech. The Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 40(4), 481–492.

Guizzo, E. (2010, April 4). Meet Geminoid F: A smiling female android. Retrieved from

Han, J., Jo, M., Jones, V., & Jo, J. H. (2008). Comparative study on the educational use of home robots for children. Journal of Information Processing Systems, 4(4), 159–168.

Han, J., & Kim, D. (2009). R-learning services for elementary school students with a teaching assistant robot. In V. Evers (Ed.), Proceedings 4th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) (pp. 255–256). doi: 10.1145/1514095.1514163

Hegarty, M. (2004). Dynamic visualizations and learning: getting to difficult questions. Learning and Instruction, 14(3), 343–351.

Hemminki, J., & Erkinheimo-Kyllonen, A. (2017). A humanoid robot as a language tutor - a case study from Helsinki Skills Center. Paper presented at R4L@ HRI2017, Wien, Austria.

Herberg, J., Feller, S., Yengin, I., & Saerbeck, M. (2015). Robot watchfulness hinders learning Performance. In Proceedings of 24th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN) (pp. 153–160). doi:10.1109/ROMAN.2015.7333620

Hismanoglu, M. (2000). Language learning strategies in foreign language learning and teaching. The Internet TESL Journal, 6(8). Retrieved from

Honig, S., & Oron-Gilad, T. (2018). Understanding and resolving failures in human-robot interaction: Literature review and model development. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1–21. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00861

Huijnen, C., Lexis, M., Jansens, R., & de Witte, L. P. (2017). How to implement robots in interventions for children with autism? A co-creation study involving people with autism, parents and professionals. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(10), 3079–3096.

Jamet, F., Masson, O., Jacquet, B., Stilgenbauer, J.-L., & Baratgin, J. (2018). Learning by teaching with humanoid robot: a new powerful experimental tool to improve children’s learning ability. Journal of Robotics, 2018, 1–11. doi: 10.1155/2018/4578762

Kanda, T., & Ishiguro, H. (2005). Communication robots for elementary schools. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Robot Companions: Hard Problems and Open Challenges in Robot-Human Interaction (pp. 54–63).

Kanda, T., Hirano, T., Eaton, D., & Ishiguro, H. (2004). Interactive robots as social partners and peer tutors for children: A Field Trial. Human-Computer Interaction, 19(1), 61–84.

Kanda, T., Sato, R., Saiwaki, N., & Ishiguro, H. (2007). A two-month field trial in an elementary school for long-term human-robot interaction. IEEE Transactions on Robotics (Special Issue), 23(5), 962–971.

Kanero, J., Geçkin V., Oranç, C., Mamus, E., Küntay, A. C., & Göksun, T. (2018). Social robots for early language learning. Child Development Perspectives, 12(3), 146–151.

Kaushanskaya, M., Yoo, J., & Marian, V. (2011). The effect of second-language experience on native-language processing. Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 8, 54–77. Retrieved from

Kwok, V. H. Y. (2015). Robot vs. human teacher: Instruction in the digital age for ESL learners. English Language Teaching, 8(7), 157–163.

Kwon, O. H., Koo, S. Y., Kim, Y. G., & Kwon, D. S. (2010). Telepresence robot system for English tutoring. In Proceedings of IEEE Workshop on Advanced Robotics and its Social Impacts (ARSO) (pp. 152–155).

Lee, E., Lee, Y., Kye, B., & Ko, B. (2008). Elementary and middle school teachers, students and parents: perception of robot-aided education in Korea. In J. Luca & E. R. Weippl (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (pp. 175–183).

Lee, S., Noh, H., Lee, J., Lee, K., & Lee, G. G. (2010). Cognitive effects of robot-assisted language learning on oral skills. In T. Kobayashi, K. Hirose, & S. Nakamura (Eds), Proceedings of the Interspeech 2010 Satellite Workshop on Second Language Studies: Acquisition, Learning, Education and Technology. Retrieved from

Lopes, J., Engwall, O., & Skantze, G. (2017). A first visit to the robot language café. In
Proceedings of 7th ISCA Workshop on Speech and Language Technology in Education (pp. 7–12). doi: 10.21437/SLaTE.2017-2

L2tor – language robot. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Majgaard, G. (2015). Multimodal robots as educational tools in primary and lower secondary education. In Proceedings of International Conferences Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction 2015, Game and Entertainment Technologies 2015 and Computer Graphics, Visualization, Computer Vision and Image Processing 2015 (pp. 27–34).

Meghdari, A., Alemi, M., Ghazisaedy, M., Taheri, A. R., Karimian, A., & Zandvakili, M. (2013). Applying robots as teaching assistant in EFL classes at Iranian middle-schools. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Education and Modern Educational Technologies (EMET 2013) (pp. 67–73).

Mora Pablo, I., Lengeling, M. M., Rubio Zenil, B., Crawford, T., & Goodwin, D. (2011). Students and teachers' reasons for using the first language within the foreign language classroom (French and English) in Central Mexico. Profile Issues in Teachers` Professional Development, 13(2), 113–129.

Mubin, O., Stevens, C. J., Shahid, S., Al Mahmud, A., & Dong, J. J. (2013). A review of the applicability of robots in education. Journal of Technology in Education and Learning, 1, 1–7. Retrieved from

Pandey, A. K., & Gelin R. (2019). Humanoid robots in education: A short review. In A. Goswami, P. Vadakkepat (Eds.), Humanoid robotics: A reference (pp. 1–16). Dordrecht: Springer.

Robins, B., Dautenhahn, K., & Dubowski, J. (2006). Does appearance matter in the interaction of children with autism with a humanoid robot? Interaction Studies, 7(3), 479–512.

Saerbeck, M., Schut, T., Bartneck, C., & Janse, M. (2010). Expressive robots in education - varying the degree of social supportive behavior of a robotic tutor. In Proceedings of the 28th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2010) (pp. 1613–1622).

Scassellati, B., Brawer, J., Tsui, K., Gilani, S. N., Malzkuhn, M., Manini, B., … Petitto, L. A. (2018). Teaching language to deaf infants with a robot and a virtual human. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Retrieved from
doi: 10.1145/3173574.3174127

Scassellati, B., Boccanfuso, L., Huang, C. M., Mademtzi, M., Qin, M., Salomons, N., … Shic, F. (2018). Improving social skills in children with ASD using a long-term, in-home social robot. Science Robotics, 3(21), 1–9 doi: 10.1126/scirobotics.aat7544

Tanaka, F., & Matsuzoe, S. (2012). Children teach a care-receiving robot to promote their learning: field experiments in a classroom for vocabulary learning. Journal of Human-Robot Interaction, 1(1), 78–95.

Tazhigaliyeva, N., Diyas, Y., Brakk, D., Aimambetov, Y., & Sandygulova, A. (2016). Learning with or from the robot: Exploring robot roles in educational context with children. In A. Agah, J. J. Cabibihan, A. Howard, M. Salichs, & H. He (Eds.), Social Robotics. ICSR 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (vol. 9979). Springer.

What is geminoid? (n.d.). Retrieved from

Wire, V. (2005). Autistic spectrum disorders and learning foreign languages. Support for Learning, 20(3), 123–128.

Yorita A., & Kubota, N. (2012). Mutual learning for second language education and language acquisition of robots. In U. Rückert, S. Joaquin, & W. Felix (Eds.), Advances in Autonomous Mini Robots (pp. 75–87), Berlin & Heidelberg: Springer.

Xie, L., Antle, A. N., & Motamedi, N., (2008). Are tangibles more fun? Comparing children’s enjoyment and engagement using physical, graphical and tangible user interfaces. In A. Schmidt, H. Gellersen, E. van den Hoven, A. Mazalek, P. Holleis, & N. Villar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction (pp. 191–198).
How to Cite
TUNA, Ayse; TUNA, Gurkan. The Use of Humanoid Robots with Multilingual Interaction Skills in Teaching a Foreign Language: Opportunities, Research Challenges and Future Research Directions. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 3, p. 95-115, sep. 2019. ISSN 2232-2647. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 15 oct. 2019. doi: