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Artificial Intelligence

Labo : Disciplinary Vtélab - How AI can help ESL students improve their speaking and writing proficiency - April 1st - From 1 p.m to 2: 30 p.m

Disciplinary Vtélab - How AI can help ESL students improve their speaking and writing proficiency

By Florence Sedaminou Muratet, The 28 April 2020


Writers : Florence S Muratet and Quinn Johnson

Discipline: 000 ESL - Second language 

The first disciplinary VtéLAB organized by the Vitrine technologie-éducation took place on April 1st. This virtual living lab gave us the opportunity to learn more about the use of AI in second language teaching. We explored listening and speaking practice with Amazon Alexa and writing practice using a platform called ‘Virtual WritingTutor’.

During this webinar, our two presenters were TESL Canada and AQPC awarded ESL teacher Nicholas Walker, who is the author of the ‘Actively Engaged’ textbook series, and Souheila Moussali, who is the head teacher of a language school and a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics at Concordia University.  

In the first presentation, Souheila Moussali talked about an efficient way to counteract the ESL classroom challenges (limited classroom time, limited input and output as well as a stressful environment) with AI (artificial intelligence). As stated by Souheila and looking at her research, IPAs (intelligent personal assistants) can help instructors to deal  with these challenges. After explaining what the different types of IPAs are (Alexa, Google Home, etc.), Souheila described the operational phases of her research. Specifically she wanted to highlight the affordancesof IPAs in terms of reinforcing phonological and sound awareness. Qualitative data from her research reveals that, according to the students, the use of Alexa (IPA) is fun and easy and it gives more opportunity to practise pronunciation.

In the second presentation, Nicholas Walker discussed Artificial intelligence for formative writing evaluation. He presented a platform called virtual writing tutor. The idea behind this platform was to use AI as a means to help students get more corrective feedback. Walker brought up the kinds of interventions that have the greatest impacts on the students’ achievements. According to  studies by Hattie (2009), learner achievement is fostered by the use of frequent formative assessment to better develop writing skills. Unfortunately, while formative assessments are the right thing to do, they can be incredibly time consuming for  teachers. That’s why teachers usually give less formative evaluation than is ideal. Considering the possibility of using AI to give formative assessment, teachers now have the opportunity to focus more on additional strategies to help their students writing skills. Virtual writing tutor is a free platform that helps students in their writing and gives feedback. 

Thank you very much to our presenters and to everyone who attended and participated in this lab. We look forward to seeing you again soon! If you missed the event  and would like to know more about this topic in detail, you can still watch the recording by clicking HERE.

Keywords : #IPA,  #AI, #teachingesl

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