The demand for language-learning tools and solutions is higher than ever, thanks to things like globalization and more accessible travel. As a result, any resource that simplifies the language-learning process is a welcome addition to the market. One innovative tool that’s particularly well-suited for this objective is a chatbot.
To illustrate how well Facebook bots can help students pick up a new language, we spoke with Sarah Bromley, who built a bot called Go Correct to help students learn English. Not only has it helped over 2,000 users practice their English skills, but it also won an award from the British council for digital innovation in language teaching. We asked for her best tips and details about her experience designing a chatbot to help students acquire a new language.
Why bots are a powerful language-learning solution
If it were easy to learn a new language by simply reading a textbook, everyone would be doing it! Most students are more successful when there’s an instructor involved to personalize the lessons and teach them one on one or in a group.
With a chatbot for language acquisition, students can receive this type of customized tuition, but on their own schedule and at their own pace. “Human interaction is vital for language learning,” explains Sarah, since native speakers are key to helping students understand vocabulary and meaning in context, “but interaction with real humans can be difficult or expensive to arrange. If a chatbot that is designed to behave like a human could provide that interaction for free and on demand, then this would be hugely beneficial to a language learner."
Before she built her bot, Sarah “piloted a version of the product, just by manually sending messages on WhatsApp” to her students. She already knew that advanced language learners "would like a chance to practise every day by writing a short text and having a native speaker correct it”. So although this method allowed her to offer her students that personalized, one-on-one element, she knew that automating the process would make things far easier for everyone. Now, she uses the bot instead to “provide quick and easy access to snack-sized practice or instant answers,” available to the students at any time.
Another reason chatbots work so well for language learning is that they exist in Messenger, a Facebook app people are already familiar with. “These days, everyone is constantly connected to a messaging app, so it makes sense that any type of learning that benefits from regular study or practice is ideal for delivering through a chatbot,” Sarah tells us. Plus, bringing this new type of learning experience to a familiar app is fun and exciting for users. They’re “generally intrigued and delighted by the service that the bot offers,” says Sarah.
Tips for building a bot for your language-learning business
Whether you run a language course or you provide one-on-one teaching to students, a bot can benefit your business! The Chatfuel platform is free and easy to use—no coding knowledge required, which means anyone can build a fully functional bot. Before designing your bot, take a look at our best tips:
- Keep your students in mind. Every aspect of your bot should be designed specifically for your typical student and their goals. Make sure that each feature you equip your bot with will directly aid your students on their language-learning journey.
- Humanize your bot. Giving your bot a name and persona will make it seem more friendly and welcoming to users. You may even want to involve human instructors in the experience, too. With Sarah’s bot, for example,“Daily questions are sent out by the bot, and a human checks and corrects the students’ answers.” This system allows instructors to still provide students with custom feedback, but without having to spend time personally guiding entire lessons.
- Get creative. When building a bot that teaches users something, creativity is key to keeping them engaged. Of course, you’ll want your bot to provide lessons and exercises, but you can have it share other interesting content, too. History or recipes from countries where the language is spoken and interactive quizzes are some examples. Plus, it’s easy to have your bot share photos, videos, and GIFs—just another way to make the experience even more captivating for users.
- Take advantage of Sequences. Sarah chose Chatfuel to build her bot because it’s “quick, free, and easy.” She shares: “The key feature I use is sequences.” This feature allows your bot to send messages to particular user segments at specific intervals, similar to an email drip campaign. As a simple example, you could have it send a lesson about food-related vocabulary in Spanish on day one, a quiz on that vocabulary on day two, and a recipe for a Spanish dish as soon as it completes both items.
- Consider making your bot multilingual. Your students aren’t the only ones who can learn to speak multiple languages! You can make your bot multilingual too, so you can reach and engage even more potential users.
Engage your language students in a new way with a Facebook chatbot
If you’re looking to provide an even more convenient, accessible, and engaging way to deliver lessons and other content to your language-learning students, a Messenger bot is the tool for you! Offering users an interactive chatbot to practice with will take your language business to the next level.
Getting started is free and easy—no registration, credit card, or special skills required. If you have questions, you can learn from our comprehensive how-to articles, or join our active Facebook community. Happy bot-building!