Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Robots one step closer to total domination of English learning in Korea

The Maeil Shinmun reported on the 24th that from March next year, the Daegu office of education and the Korean Institute of Science and Technology will put English teaching robots into 21 elementary schools. The robots will cost around 20,000,000 won each, and will be able to be controlled by native speaking teachers remotely. I liked this sentence:
Because students can see the native speaking teacher's expression via the robot's LED video screen, they can feel like they're learning English from a real foreign teacher.

The resemblance is uncanny, to be sure.

It seems this model is a new addition to the robots we've already seen (though those seem to be lacking the codpieces so evident in other photos).


F5Waeg said...

20 million won?? I can't wait until these things start breaking down, like the English villages.

Suppose it could be economical, just get one pretty blonde to record the lines from the textbook and you're on your way.

Completely defeats the purpose of having NESTs. I wonder what effect this will have on the image of non-Koreans. From my experiences teaching English, a lot of the kids already have issues seeing you as a valid human being.

What is wrong with the people who come up with this stuff?

Jason said...

Well, I guess that's one way to get a white face in the classroom. I'd sign up to do this, though, because I could teach from home and not have to worry about all the extra-curricular political stuff that happens. I somehow doubt they'll require the foreigners to log into the robot every day during vacation.

baekgom84 said...

This seems a little outlandish, even for Korea, which makes me wonder if this is less about finding a genuine alternative to the native teacher "problem" and more about some other, unseen purpose. At 20 mil a pop, and factoring in wages that will need to be paid to the English teacher on the other end of the screen, as well as maintenance (think what those grubby elementary school fingers will do to the components), it hardly seems like these things exist for economic reasons.

Also, why does it cost 20,000,000 for what is basically a speaker on wheels with a screen and webcam attached? Wouldn't have thought it would cost any more than 2 - 3 mil, max.

Unknown said...

I think I've seen that device before. It's the XOJ-37 Nuclear Powered Pan-Sexual Roto-Plooker.

All government sponsored recreational services are clean and efficient. No AIDS!

This is exciting
I never plooked
A tiny chrome-plated machine
That looks like a magical pig
With marital aids stuck all over it
Such as yourself before

You'll love it!
Its a way of life.

Unknown said...

At least the teachers won't suffer the dreaded ddongchim!

Jason said...

LOL I once taught at an elite university for a 3 week summer English camp. My classroom started off great because it had once of those fancy touch-screen multi-media podiums that can effectively control the whole room with different programs.

3 days later my students some how froze the computer, broke the microphones and got it stuck in a hole that they made in the stage (it was on wheels). 3 days! that was all that it took.

How long will it take for these students to break these robots? In my experience students in Korea look with their hands like toddlers. Things don't last very long in classrooms. Cool-looking robots won't last very long. The destructive of students that have never been taught the phrase "don't touch that" will see to that. Next time you are home plus try and find a working controller for the x-box on display... that would be a clear indication of what will happen to the robots.

Kamiza said...

I'm sorry, but South KOrea is truly the "Land of the Computer Dorks"

Talk about reducing an issue to its most absurd point . . . this takes the f'ing cake!

For a country so obsessed with education, it always blows my mind how badly they do it.

Chris in South Korea said...

Robot: 20,000,000 won. Assumed life span, or before a newer model comes out? Let's say 3 years, and include a few million won for repairs or maintenance over that lifetime. No kid could POSSIBLY learn from an older robot.

Native-speaking English teacher in native country: 2,000,000 / month (just a guess, but it's almost certainly less than hiring a native English speaker to come to Korea)

Korean watching classroom CCTV to ensure robot is not mistreated - : 2,000,000 / month (let's be generous here)

Total spent over three years (the robot's guesstimated lifetime): 167,000,000 won.

If anybody wants to talk about 'economical', find some figures about how much foreign English teachers are paid (can't remember the source, but assume 50,000,000 won as a full cost of paying them, providing the legally mandated half of health insurance, giving them a place to live for a year).

Unknown said...

why go through all this trouble? Just put a foreign teacher in another country on Skype on a big screen...make the teacher dress as a dinosaur or a cow and here you have your visual attraction. People who believe this will make a difference are naive. The only thing it does is keeping away filthy foreigners and their AIDS. Cause they're full of it...also marijuana...