How do students learn Chinese from A.I.?

There are good Chinese learning APPs that helps students learn Chinese. Besides that, Artificial Intelligence, A.I., is the other hot topic that is frequently talked about in book fairs and language learning conferences. 

A.I. is probably one of the most advanced technologies on Earth. Powerful countries are spending billions of dollars on it. And it is no surprise that many Chinese learning tools are labelled with the function of A.I. learning. 

I have seen promotional materials for some learning tools, such as a mini robot or an animal figure, which claim that they are equipped with A.I., and that students can learn Chinese directly from them.

I’m curious, how do students learn Chinese from A.I.?

Questions and answers

According to the promotional materials of these tools, the A.I. learning is mostly for students to ask questions, such as “how to say ‘hello’ in Chinese”, and the learning tool will provide answers. 

Students asking questions and getting answers are great ways to learn Chinese, as long as students remember the answers they have got, and continue to come up with new questions. If students could not remember the answers for the questions they’ve asked before, or they run out of questions, learning stops. 

The responsibility of successful learning outcome is solely rested on students’ shoulders. They must decide what to learn, they must figure out the right questions to ask, and they must make sure to conduct reviews and to check their own progress from time to time.

Physical objects vs abstract concepts

The easiest thing to learn is names of objects. 

Questions like “how to say tea in Chinese” and “how to say apple in Chinese” are easy to ask and easy to answer. 

Questions like “how to express past tense in Chinese” would be difficult for A.I. 

Other difficult questions would be to ask about “taboo” or “daoism”.

Check pronunciations

With advanced speech recognition technology, A.I. is getting good at judging students’ pronunciations and giving feedback on which words are not pronounced right. 

This is a cool feature. 

Just be reminded that A.I. is not good at judging accents. If students speak with an accent, A.I. would think it is not right.

Have a conversation

The coolest function of A.I. learning is that students can chat with these learning tools, as if they’re real. 

I think this is a great idea and has the most potential to truly help students learn Chinese. 

However, the promotional materials only give the simplest conversations between students and A.I., and I could not say where the conversation would go after a few minutes.

If anyone would like me to review an A.I. learning robot, I’d be happy to do so and update this article accordingly.

A.I. & Chinese teachers

Using A.I. to teach and learn Chinese is cool, and it has so much potential for further development.

That is not to belittle human Chinese teachers. I think humans still have something that A.I. does not have.

  • Humans feel for each other. 
  • Humans have imaginations. 
  • Humans invent stuff. 
  • Humans can love something madly and irrationally. 
  • Humans ask “why”. 
  • Humans know what life is. 

All these characteristics are necessary components for teaching and learning Chinese, because students are humans, not machines.


April Zhang
Chinese Teacher
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