Reading with Robots

August 2019

There is nothing more human than language, but machines can help the youngest members of the species get to grips with grammar and syntax.

Researchers at Paderborn University have invented a robot named NAO that helps children learn how to compose complex adjectives and meaningful sentences. The line between learning and playing is blurred. Psycholinguist Katharina Rohlfing explains using the example of a game.

“The object of the game is to comprehend the meaning of individual words,” she says. “At first they’re just simple nouns and adjectives, but later, the children learn to form complex adjectives of color for instance, sky blue.”

NAO helps children associate words with applications and context, for instance, by pointing to pictures that correspond with words, just as parents do when they teach their youngsters to speak and read.

NAO in action © Universität Paderborn, Besim Mazhiqi