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Language Magazine is a monthly print and online publication that provides cutting-edge information for language learners, educators, and professionals around the world.

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HomenewsScience & TechnologyVirtual Learning a Reality

Virtual Learning a Reality

ATi Studios has released a virtual reality app for language education to combine the artificial-intelligence technology behind chatbots with speech recognition in virtual reality. Learn Languages VR by Mondly allows people to experience lifelike conversations with virtual characters, in 28 different languages. The new VR application is intended to realize virtual reality’s promise of rich, immersive, and automated educational experiences. The app offers instant feedback on pronunciation, suggestions that enrich learners’ vocabulary, and surprises that transform learning a language into a fun experience.

Mondly’s conversational voice chatbot for language learning was first released by the company in August 2016. The technology uses advanced speech recognition that understands millions of phrases and words in 28 different languages. To bridge the technologies behind its chatbot, speech recognition, and VR, the company had to develop a new automatic voice-detection system. Alexandru Iliescu, the CEO and co-founder of ATi Studios, spoke about the challenges involved: “The toughest challenge was to make the speech interaction feel natural in VR. Because VR is so immersive, we quickly realized that traditional speech-interaction models that require a tap or a voice command to enable speech recognition would kill the flow of the experience. So we developed our own automatic voice-detection system. It calibrates to the room’s background noise, and it ignores unintentional sounds. The result is amazing, the conversations with the virtual characters happen as naturally as real-life conversations—they just flow.”“Fluency in a language is not how many words you know, but how well you communicate with the words you do,” continued Iliescu. “Our goal with Mondly is to push the envelope of language learning with new technologies that drive our users to become better communicators and have richer life experiences. And the Oculus team and the virtual reality technology they’ve created offered us the perfect environment for achieving this goal. ”

Full list of languages: British English, American English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, Greek, Portuguese, Arabic, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Thai.

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