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Robot as second language? Korean kids learning it

After ongoing trials, South Korea will spend approximately $45 million for an "R-Learning" program that places English-speaking robotic teaching assistants in preschools and kindergartens.

The Yujin iRobiQ is one of the bots that's had a teaching test run in Korea's classrooms.

It should come as no surprise that Korea, the same country that's building a robot theme park, is planning to send English-teaching bots into its schools. Are we sensing a theme here?

After ongoing classroom trials, South Korea will spend approximately $45 million for an "R-Learning" program that places a range of robotic teaching assistants in 500 preschools by 2011 and in 8,000 preschools and kindergartens by 2013, according to io9.

For now, the terribly cute robot instructors--which teach via voice recognition and telepresence technology--won't take over all classroom duties, but will do things like recite stories and lead kids in sing-alongs aimed at honing their language skills.

The bots, mostly made by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, will help make up for the lack of accredited English teachers in Korea, and if the video below is any indication, they'll probably do their part to get kids there comfortable early with the idea of robots at the head of the class. Which is probably a good thing, since those who go on to study software programming and hardware engineering will most likely be learning from this humanoid teacher one day.