Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010

The English-Teaching Robot

Call it the job terminator. South Korea, which employs some 30,000 foreigners to teach English, has plans for a new addition to its language classrooms: the English-speaking robot. Students in a few schools started learning English from the robo-teachers late last year; by the end of this year, the government hopes to have them in 18 more schools. The brightly colored, squat androids are part of an effort to keep South Korean students competitive in English. Not surprisingly, the proposal has worried a few human teachers — and with good reason. Experts say the bots could eventually phase out flesh-and-blood foreign English teachers altogether.