Google's New Teaching Tool: A Challenge to Duolingo and Language Apps
- 22 Oct 2023
In a bold bid to add further value to its ecosystem, Google is introducing a fresh feature on Google Search: an interactive tool to help improve the English-speaking abilities of language learners. Designed with the aim of augmenting translation services to or from English, this feature will initially see handsets in Argentina, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Venezuela.
Rather than merely acting as a translation tool, Google Search now looks to provide active language education. This innovation turns Google’s popular search engine into an interactive learning experience, offering personalized feedback on spoken English practice. Each practice session requires 3-5 minutes, where users respond to prompts using specific vocabulary words.
Aside from merely indicating the user's proficiency with the language, this new feature goes the extra mile. It offers meaningful feedback on the appropriateness and comprehensibility of a response, identifies areas of grammatical improvement, and expands a user's language proficiency by suggesting various response examples. There's also additional support for challenging words – a simple tap provides a contextual translation.
This interactive English learning tool was developed with a substantial investment in AI and machine learning technologies. Google’s development includes various models for grammar correction, translation suggestions, and semantic feedback, which are specifically designed to cater to accented speech. In its construction, Google brought a cross-disciplinary team on board, including teachers, linguists, ESL/EFL pedagogical experts, other learning partners, and a human review system.
While this isn’t Google's first venture into language learning tools, the new feature is indeed a testament to its evolutionary approach. Offering more than just familiarization with a word or phrase, Google Search now actively helps improve spoken English. It does raise the question – is this Google’s first step to rivaling other language learning platforms? If public reception is positive, we can expect a fresh wave of features and possibly more languages to come.