Using Intelligent Personal Assistants for Teaching English
Authors: Alexandra Ávila-Fernandez, Janio Jadán-Guerrero, Johann Jadán-Altamirano, and Isabel L. Nunes
Abstract: The lack of practice to develop language skills is the main problem in learning foreign languages. The aim of the research is to establish methodological strategies with virtual assistants, for elementary school students through innovative and interactive classes, to develop the macro skills of the English language. The methodological design of this study is based on a mixed qualitative-quantitative approach, with the participation of an expert on "Virtual assistants in the English language", five teachers from the English area and 57 elementary school students from a private school in Ecuador. The data collected from the teachers made it possible to identify the main problems that students have when it comes to developing macro skills in the English language. With the support of the education expert, a strategy was designed using virtual assistants. The personal assistant Alexa, with great programming flexibility, was selected, applying a strategy focused on four macro skills: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Each activity was aimed to reinforcing each skill according to students’ level at school. For example, for speech skills, students had to engage in a dialogue with Alexa through a game of questions and answers. For listening skills, Alexa would tell a story to determine the level of comprehension. For reading skills, the students were given a reading from which they were asked questions that Alexa could answer and through this the students developed writing skills according to the questions they answered. After the intervention, a post test was applied and it was shown that there was an improvement in the development of skills. It was concluded that the interactive classes motivated the participation of all students. For future work, we intend to carry out a longitudinal study with the use of virtual assistants and a comparison between other devices.
Keywords: Personal Assistants, Virtual Assistants, Alexa, English Teaching, Language Skills
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