A teaching revolution, fresh out of some science fiction novel, has become a reality in Korea. Robot Teachers of English! After all, if robots can build cars, then why shouldn’t they invade our classrooms and teach classes, better than any human teacher could? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Firstly, a huge amount of money will be saved. The Robot teachers won’t need a salary, no health benefits, no retirement benefits, no unions necessary to protect their workers rights, etc, etc. Oh no, teachers of English, native speakers and non-native speakers alike, you don’t have a job anymore…
SEOUL – Almost 30 robots have started teaching English to youngsters in a South Korean city, education officials said Tuesday, in a pilot project designed to nurture the nascent robot industry.
Engkey, a white, egg-shaped robot developed by the Korea Institute of Science of Technology (KIST), began taking classes Monday at 21 elementary schools in the southeastern city of Daegu.
The 29 robots, about one metre (3.3 feet) high with a TV display panel for a face, wheeled around the classroom while speaking to the students, reading books to them and dancing to music by moving their head and arms.
The robots, which display an avatar face of a Caucasian woman, are controlled remotely by teachers of English in the Philippines — who can see and hear the children via a remote control system.
Here’s the big question: Will the robots replace humans? Will former EFL/ELT teachers become robot operators? The future waits on noone, it has arrived, and as soon as manufacturers can figure out how to mass produce these robots, make their teaching effective, and efficient, and begin to save mony on teacher’s salaries, we teachers are going to be unemployed.
Or am I simply overreacting?
Teacher of English as a Foreign Language