Robot Assisted Language Learning

Research on the role and effects of social robots in human language development

The Project

Early Language Development in the Digital Age (e-LADDA)

Modern digital technologies are transforming rapidly the environment in which children are growing up and developing skills. This new digital reality has both changed the nature of the linguistic input provided to young children, but also affords new ways of interaction with communication agents, such as tablets and robots.

The goal of e-LADDA is to establish whether the new and intuitive interactions afforded by digital tools impact on young children’s language development and language outcomes in a positive or adverse way. We further aim to identify exactly what factors in both the technology itself and the communication channel advance language learning and growth or may impede it.

This goal will be pursued in e-LADDA from a highly interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial perspective, bridging between research disciplines and methodologies and in collaboration with industry and the non-academic public sector. e-LADDA is divided into 14 sub-projects each assigned to highly qualified Early Stage Researchers (ESR).

Robot Assisted Language Learning - ESR 14

This is the sub-project number 14 of e-LADDA. In this project we will look at the ways social robots can affect the process of human language development. Mainly we are concerned to know:

  • Can humans learn a language from a robot?

  • Can a robot significantly facilitate the process of language learning?

  • What are the advantages/benefits, and risks/disadvantages of using robots for language learning?

  • The effects and role of embodiment in language learning with use of technologies.

One main part in our work is to look at atypical language learners, whose language development process is affected by their conditions. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, or other learning disabilities. Imagine an autistic child who suffers from social anxiety; and his/her language skills remain under-developed due to lack of enough social interaction in critical ages for specific language skill development. Can a robot controlling anxiety factors be of aid in such cases? and compensate the needed social interactions in favor of proper language development? These are kind of questions we will also ask.


The institutions involved in this project.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Division of Speech, Music and Hearing (TMH)

Department of Intelligent Systems

School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS)

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Language Acquisition and Language Processing Lab

The coordination organization of the e-LADDA project.

European Union

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions grant agreement No. 857897


The University of Manchester

Cognitive Robotics Lab (COROLAB)

School of Computer Science

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Psychology of Language research group

Institute of Psychology

Faculty of Biology and Psychology