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Chula’s “MALLIE” English-Learning Chatbot Wins a Gold Medal from Taiwan

MALLIE, a complete Englishlearning game chatbot, the latest innovation from Chula’s Faculty of Education received Gold Award from the 2020 Kaohsiung International Invention and Design EXPO, Taiwan.

MALLIE chatbot the New Normal of Learning English with Challenging Chatbot Games – is designed with the key concept of “Practice makes perfect!” in mind for learners whose English is a second language to be able to cross the language barrier confidently.

MAILLE is an innovative English-learning program that allows learners to practice listening, speaking, as well as grammar, and vocabulary through a chatbot anytime they want.  Students can use an avatar when they practice their English. “This is quite effective in helping to reduce students’ embarrassment when they have to pronounce English words,” Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jittavee Khlaisang and Asst. Prof. Dr. Pornpimol Sukavatee, from the Department of Educational Technology and Communications, and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Program, Faculty of Education, explained the innovation which recently received the Gold Award from the “2020 Kaohsiung International Invention and Design EXPO in Taiwan.

MALLIE uses Chatbot program with Challenges to chat, monitor, nurture, and support learners in developing their English communication skills through six learning levels: M – Meet and Greet, A – All sets, L – (i) Love Grammar, L – Let’s review, I – I am avatar, and E – Enjoy it.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jittavee further elaborated on how to use the app, “when students register, the MALLIE character is automatically added as their friend on Facebook and Messenger applications to chat and interact with them. At the first level, MALLIE will send learners 10 words a day with an exercise, which the students will have to learn and complete within one day.  Each level has three lessons, each with vocabulary and exercises for 5 days, similar to the levels in games. The English content is high-school level English to fit the target of first-year students.”

“After learning the vocabulary and grammar, students will be given a link to log into the iReview website and receive an assignment to make a video clip, using Mini Studio Box tool for a product review in English as the final project.  Students can choose to use avatar in producing the product review as well. “

The MALLIE’s layout and functionality have been meticulously designed based on app usage behavior data collected from over 500 college students nationwide, with the input of many digital technology experts after which it was tested on over 100 first-year students of the Faculty of Education before the ultimate mobile application for English learning was launched.  MALLIE also collects learners’ progress data to help analyze and evaluate each learner as well.

“Students with MALLIE as their English language companion have significantly improved language grades and English communication skills, and when asked, university students would be also more likely to acquire and use this innovation to promote their English skills, ”said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jittavee.

This innovation project received research funding from Thailand Science Research and Innovation (TSRI).  In the next phase, the project aims to broaden the scope of contents to meet the needs of more professional fields.

“In the next phase, MALLIE plans to add niche services, such as a collection of vocational terminologies like medical, nursing, and accounting terminologies, to help students learn specialized English with greater ease and efficiency.  At the time of COVID-19 pandemic, this kind of innovation could be an option for teachers to develop and apply to language learning all over the world,” Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jintawee concluded.

Chula’s encouragement and support for research is excellent for teachers, students, and the public.

Associate Professor Dr. Suchana Chavanich Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University