Between native speakers and those learning it as a second language, English is the most studied language in the world. Learning English can be particularly challenging for people who have not grown up in English-speaking countries, but today’s technology offers many tools to help people learn a new language. Some of these, like language learning apps, have become commonplace, while others are new and rapidly evolving, such as those built around or powered by artificial intelligence.
AI has the potential to revolutionize how people learn English as a second language in a variety of ways. One of the biggest strengths of AI-powered software in education is its ability to adapt to the needs of each learner. AI can tailor the difficulty of language exercises to the user and focus the material on areas that the user needs the most practice on. For instance, if the AI sees that a user is consistently having trouble forming the past tense of verbs, it might start gearing more of the exercises toward forming the past tense of regular verbs and common irregular verbs.
AI can also power instructional chatbots that act as virtual teachers. A human instructor cannot be available 24/7 to help their students, but an AI chatbot never needs to sleep: It can answer questions for English learners and offer instructional resources at any time of day. Any AI tool that can hold a conversation can also be a valuable learning aid for students learning English as a second language, as students can practice their English by interacting with these tools as if they are humans. The pace of text-based speech is slower, giving students more time to decode and comprehend the AI’s words, and reading these responses also helps to reinforce the rules of written English.
One other way that AI can help language learners is through real-time translations. Watching movies or TV shows with AI-generated captions turned on can help English learners to improve their pronunciation, since they can read the words as they hear them spoken. And AI-powered apps can also translate speech and written text from English to a person’s native language and vice versa, which can be a great help to learners trying to navigate an English-speaking environment.